Storm Tracker (May 2-8)
With the arrival of forward Lauren Jackson Monday and Tully Bevilaqua Thursday, the Storm’s contingent of three Australian players – guard Sandy Brondello is the other – is complete. After passing her physical, Jackson began practicing Tuesday. While she is still a bit behind, Jackson will definitely play in the Storm’s preseason opener on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome. She may not start. Bevilaqua’s first practice with the Storm was this morning, and she is beginning to make the adjustment not only to a new system but also to a smaller ball than she is used to using from her Hungarian league. “Hopefully she’ll get more acclimated every day,” Donovan said after practice when asked about Bevilaqua, who she expects to use in Sunday’s game.
Jackson is back and ready to build on two straight All-Star appearances.
With a WNBA-mandated cutdown date to 15 players looming on Sunday, the Storm was forced to make three cuts this week. On Thursday, second-year center Takeisha Lewis was waived. Friday, the Storm cut a pair of guards, Felicia Ragland and Jamie Redd. While both Lewis and Redd saw only limited action last year, Ragland was a key member of Lin Dunn’s rotation and her release was unexpected. The arrival of veteran guard Brondello and Bevilaqua cut into Ragland’s projected minutes, but the surprising play of third-round pick Chrissy Floyd appears to be the reason the Storm found Ragland expendable.
Healthy and Happy
Perhaps the best news from the first week of the Storm’s training camp is that the team has managed to stay relatively healthy, avoiding any long-term injuries. Center Simone Edwards sat out of Friday’s practice with a strained left calf, a precautionary measure. Though she was unable to play, Edwards’ presence was still felt as she yelled defensive encouragement to her teammates from the sidelines.
With just two days until the Storm tips off preseason play against the Sacramento Monarchs, Coach Donovan is still unsure about what her starting five will be. Brondello and Sue Bird will almost certainly be paired in the backcourt, with Alisa Burras in the middle. The forward spots remain open. Jackson may not start, though the position is hers when she’s ready to play. Small forward has been the most competitive position thus far in camp, with at least four players in the running to start. Amanda Lassiter, Adia Barnes, and rookie Jung Sun-Min appear to be the leading contenders at this point. Shooting guard was expected to be similarly competitive, but Brondello has locked down the position to this point with her outside shooting, ballhandling, and experience.
Player of the Week
When asked to name the most pleasant surprise of training camp so far after Friday’s practice, Donovan tabbed Barnes. Thus far during camp, Barnes has consistently been delivering on the offensive end – a surprise from a player known for her defense who averaged just 3.5 points per game last season. Barnes can score, however, as proven by her 7.6 points per game during her rookie season with the Sacramento Monarchs. In addition to hitting from the perimeter, Barnes has been able to create her own offense driving to the basket. On one notable busted play during the controlled scrimmage, Barnes split two defenders to get to the edge of the lane and banked a shot in off glass. As a result of her potent offense, Barnes is in the mix to start at small forward after starting 17 games for the Storm last season.