Burse Returns to Storm

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | May 1, 2007
The Seattle Storm doubled the number of members of the starting lineup in training camp Tuesday, as center Janell Burse made her first appearance of the year in an afternoon practice pushed back to accommodate her league-mandated physical.

Burse, who had been playing for USK Praha in the Czech Republic, didn't play like she was days removed from being overseas.

"It's great to be back in America, first of all. It's good to be back in Seattle, just getting settled in and getting used to the team."
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"She looks great. She looks really great," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan after the practice. "She doesn't look like she has jetlag at all."

"I'm just trying to get a feel for the people we had today," said Burse, "just trying to see how I can fit in with what they've been doing."

After spending most of the last seven months overseas, Burse is happy to put away what she described as "awful" command of the Czech language and get back to English.

"It's great to be back in America, first of all," she said. "It's good to be back in Seattle, just getting settled in and getting used to the team."

Burse's return to the Storm was hardly assured when she left Seattle last summer at the conclusion of the Storm's season. An unrestricted free agent coming off the best season of her career (she averaged 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 2006), Burse was sure to be a valuable commodity on the open market before the Storm opted to core her, locking her up and guaranteeing Burse the WNBA's maximum salary. Burse was pleased to get the news from her agent.

"One day I was calling him and asking him about the WNBA and where he thought I would end up. He just said, 'Oh, they're going to core you.'

"It was great because I love Seattle. It was good. I was really excited."

Burse averaged 15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for Praha. While her team fell to the Czech Republic's dominant team, Gambrinus Brno, in three games in the league finals, a highlight came when Praha upset Brno in the regular season - ending a 256-game winning streak in Czech League play.

"For us to do that, it was making history," explained Burse. "It was all over FIBA and everybody made a big deal of it. It was like winning a championship, just that one game."

That game marked Burse's return to the floor after she missed nearly two months with a broken bone in her left foot. Despite that injury and the partial tear of her shoulder labrum that was a problem at times last season, Burse is feeling relatively good entering the WNBA season.

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"Some things are lingering, but nothing is bothering me right now, which is good," she said. I feel healthy, which is always a plus going into a new season.

"My foot is kind of on and off with pain. It's probably going to be that way for a while. My shoulder feels great, because my last actual game was Tuesday. That week away from basketball made a huge difference."

After opting against off-season surgery to repair the labrum, Burse continued the process of strengthening the muscles in her shoulder to help keep her shoulder from subluxing, or coming out of the socket. That happened twice last season, sidelining Burse for seven games in total. Burse related that the shoulder did sublux a couple of times in the Czech Republic, but that she was able to return more quickly because of the added strength she had built.

Burse also was able to get on the court and continue the work that saw her dramatically improve her midrange shooting between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

"I worked on shooting the ball further out, my defense, trying to do some things quicker than what I did before - little things like that," said Burse. "Little things to make a big overall difference in my game."