Lennox’s Butterfly Effect
Lennox gets her picture taken at Monday's Media Day.
Instead of needing to use their first-round pick on a shooting guard when it became clear that incumbent starter Sandy Brondello would stay in Australia this season, Lennox's presence freed the Storm to trade the pick, along with forward Amanda Lassiter, to Minnesota for forward Sheri Sam and center Janell Burse.
Now, Lennox and Sam, previously teammates in Miami, are the leading candidates to start at shooting guard and small forward, respectively, as the Storm upgrades its perimeter punch. And both have been singled out during the early stages of camp by Coach Anne Donovan as two of the most effective players thus far.
After this morning's practice, Donovan gushed about Lennox's ability on the fast break.
"In transition, Betty is fantastic," Donovan said. "That's what Sue wants to do, she wants to push the ball and run. Betty's either pushing it, getting it to Sue, or on the receiving end. Already our transition game looks better, even without Lauren here."
In town for more than a month to familiarize herself with the city, work out with the Storm's coaching staff and participate in the "Stormin' the Sound" community initiative, Lennox has quickly impressed the franchise both on and off the court. Virtually everyone connected with the organization is forthcoming in their praise for Lennox.
"From day one, Betty impressed me with her professionalism, genuineness and caring for the community," said Sarah Childs, the Storm's Community Relations Coordinator. "As a new member of the Seattle Storm, she willingly jumped into "Stormin' the Sound" and did numerous appearances in order to get to know her new community. She has been great to work with and her passion for basketball and for working with kids is contagious."
In addition to moving around - she's been traded once and had a pair of franchises cease operations on her - Lennox's size has been a factor in keeping her from making good on the promise she flashed as the 2000 WNBA Rookie of the Year. At 5-8, Lennox is on the small side for a WNBA shooting guard, but the Storm is confident she can make up for the deficiency.
"That's Betty, she's smaller than most of the players out there on the perimeter," said Donovan. "Unfortunately, she's undersized. She makes up for it because she's so super-quick, and she's also extremely aggressive.
"She's always at a mismatch, and no one's more aware of that than Betty. She's a very smart player, so she knows she's got to compensate for her size. As an offensive player, they have the advantage. She takes that advantage away from the offense by being right in their shorts. Smart player."
When asked about overcoming her size, Lennox echoed her coach's words, adding how her weightlifting has helped her play bigger than her listed height and weight.
"If somebody's taller than me, guarding me, I use my strength, which is my quickness," Lennox said. "On both ends, you've got to be smart. Don't do something that you don't have the advantage of doing. Play smart. On the defensive end, I try to get low and use my lower-body strength and keep her from the basket. It's difficult, it takes a lot of hard work."
During today's practice, Lennox matched up at times with 5-11 Adia Barnes, giving away three inches of height but nothing in terms of intensity. Lennox used her quickness to hound Barnes on the perimeter and take Barnes out of her offense, then used her strength to box her out on the glass. That same effort has helped Lennox be an impressive rebounder for a guard throughout her career, including a career-best 5.6 rebounds per game as a rookie.
Lennox may not be excited about the circumstances that will likely allow her to become a starter in Seattle - "I wish Sandy Brondello could be back here, she's my ex-teammate in Miami," she said. "I really admire her and look up to her" - but she is going to continue to work hard to take advantage of the situation and have a butterfly effect on the Storm.
"I'm surprised how quickly we're moving along," she said. "You expect that in year two, your offense to look better, your defensive presence to pick up, but we have so many new players in this camp. I'm surprised, four practices in, at how fast we're moving. The pace is good."