2008 in Review: Ashley Robinson
Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | Dec. 5, 2008
A restricted free agent for the first time, Ashley Robinson waited almost literally until the last minute before making a decision. On the morning of the first day of training camp, Robinson re-signed with the Seattle Storm for her third full season in Seattle. Robinson returned to a team that made a change in the middle, losing incumbent starter Janell Burse and replacing her with Yolanda Griffith.
From Robinson's perspective, the bigger change was on the sidelines, with Brian Agler stepping in for Anne Donovan as head coach. While Robinson had worked with Agler when he was an assistant coach and she a rookie in Phoenix in 2004, his new systems at both ends of the floor required an adjustment period for Robinson. That made it difficult for her to fully build off the momentum she had created stepping in for an injured Burse at the end of the 2007 season and into the playoffs.
During the early portion of the season, Robinson's role was limited. She did not play more than 10 minutes in any of the Storm's five May games, totaling four points, four rebounds and a single block in the stretch. As the season wore on, Robinson got more comfortable and saw more action, helping fill in for an ailing Griffith during the month of June. At the same time, Robinson herself was dealing with Achilles tendinitis, and while the only game she missed (July 5 vs. Minnesota) was due to an unrelated ankle sprain, the injury limited Robinson's playing time.
One of Robinson's best efforts of the season came July 12 against the Los Angeles Sparks. With Lauren Jackson in foul trouble, Robinson played 12 minutes off the bench, grabbing five rebounds - four of them offensive - and making a major difference with her hustle in a key Storm victory. "Ashley Robinson came in there and gave us some great minutes," Agler said afterwards.
The month-long Olympic Break proved beneficial for Robinson, who played her best basketball in the month of September after the break. She played double-figures minutes in each of the Storm's last eight games and her numbers rose correspondingly. Robinson blocked a shot in each of the Storm's six September games, including the 100th of her WNBA career, and averaged 1.5 blocks in the month. Robinson also scored more points in September (15) than she had the entire season to date.
Robinson enjoyed her best game on Sept. 12 against Atlanta, playing extended minutes with Griffith sitting out to rest for the postseason. In 26 minutes, she had five points on 2-of-4 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and recorded a pair of monster blocks. Her rejection of former teammate Iziane Castro Marques - as featured on the desktop wallpaper at right - brought teammates on the bench and the KeyArena crowd to their feet.
The larger role would continue on into the postseason, with Robinson's combination of size and athleticism making her an ideal matchup for Los Angeles' challenging frontcourt. Agler used Robinson as a starter in a big lineup in Game 1, and she played 21 minutes, contributing four points and six rebounds. Robinson returned to the bench for Games 2 and 3 and played solid minutes as a reserve, including three points and four boards in 14 minutes in the Storm's Game 2 victory.
Having signed a one-year contract, Robinson will again become a restricted free agent when free agency begins on Dec. 15. The Storm would like to keep Robinson around to continue her development in Seattle.
"There's a couple of things I really like about Ashley that I'm not going to mention right now because if I mention it, there might be other people that attract her," Agler said at season's end. "I know, talking with Ashley yesterday, she loves Seattle. She considers this really her home. We would love to keep Ashley here."
2008 Photo Gallery
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