2008 in Review: Sheryl Swoopes
Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | Dec. 11, 2008
After spending her entire illustrious 11-year WNBA career with the Houston Comets, it was time for Sheryl Swoopes to seek a new home. An unrestricted free agent for the first time, Swoopes signed with the Seattle Storm on March 3 as part of the Storm's offseason makeover. Instantly, she added a veteran presence and leadership to the Storm lineup.
Having missed all but the first three games of the 2007 season because of a back injury that ultimately required offseason surgery, Swoopes had to undergo a challenging rehab that continued into training camp. Her time on the floor was limited early in camp, and the process was slowed by minor injuries during the preseason, including a strained neck. By Opening Night, however, Swoopes was in the lineup at shooting guard. She had six points, four rebounds and three steals in the Storm's win over Chicago.
During the early portion of the season, Swoopes was up and down as she worked her way back into game shape. In early June, Swoopes began to turn the corner, scoring 15 or more points three times (including a season-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting on June 11 against Phoenix) in a four-game stretch - three of them Storm victories. In those three games, she shot 7-of-14 from three-point range. Swoopes was healthy through the month of June and remained a nightly contributor.
Early in the month of July, Swoopes battled a knee injury that forced her to come off the bench for the first time July 8 at Sacramento. She quickly got back going and put together back-to-back double-digit efforts in wins over Los Angeles and at Indiana before battling another injury, a pulled hamstring that forced her to miss her first game of the season on July 25 at Phoenix.
No Storm player figured to benefit more from the month-long Olympic break than Swoopes, getting time off from the pounding of the WNBA regular season. However, during the course of practices, Swoopes suffered a painful heel injury. It would limit her to six minutes of action in the Storm's second game back from the break and force her to miss the team's next game at Atlanta.
Just when Swoopes looked to be getting back on track, having knocked down a pair of three-pointers and scored seven points in 14 minutes against Minnesota on Sept. 6, she suffered a scary injury. While contesting a shot, Swoopes was knocked off balance and hit the floor so hard as to knock her out. She was taken off the floor on a stretcher and suffered a serious concussion that ended her regular season.
Swoopes' symptoms subsided in time for her to return to practice in the week leading up to the start of the playoffs. In her first game back, Swoopes had seven points and five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench in Game 1. She returned to the starting lineup for Game 2 and responded with a vintage performance, scoring 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting with a pair of three-pointers and playing the passing lanes for four steals. Swoopes' contributions at both ends were key to the Storm's 64-50 victory. Two days later, Swoopes wasn't able to find that same kind of magic in Game 3, as she shot 1-for-8 from the field and finished with three points as the Los Angeles Sparks ended the Storm's season.
While injuries marked Swoopes' season, she was able to play in 29 of the Storm's 31 games prior to her freak concussion and ultimately was able to work past her back surgery. Swoopes' shooting was streaky, as she shot career-lows of 39.1 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from downtown, but she consistently contributed in other ways. Swoopes ranked fourth on the Storm in rebounding and third in assists while finishing 13th in the league in steals per game (1.48) and an impressive fourth in steal/turnover ratio (1.39).
Initially uncertain in the wake of the disappointing loss as to her plans to return for another WNBA season at age 38, Swoopes has since made it clear that she wants to play. She and her family have relocated to the Seattle area from Houston, allowing Swoopes to spend the offseason representing the Storm in the community and working to get ready for the 2009 campaign.
2008 Photo Gallery
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