Cash Fitting In to Storm Offense

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Kevin Pelton, | May 28, 2008
At times during the first four games of the 2008 season, the Seattle Storm has seen its offense click, with unselfish ball movement creating open looks at the basket on a regular basis. At other times, the Storm has been sluggish, looking like a group of players with only two weeks experience playing together in the system of new Head Coach Brian Agler.

The lone constant for the Storm on offense has been newcomer Swin Cash. During the Storm's low-scoring first halves, Cash has often been one of the lone sources of offense, getting second-chance points and finding ways to score. Then, as the team has picked up its play in the second half, Cash has been in the middle of it, getting out on the fast break to take advantage of the turnovers the Storm's defense has created.

"We don't necessarily run a lot of things for her; she just finds a way to score and get things done for us."
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
Four games into Cash's Seattle career, she's the Storm's second-leading scorer at 16.6 points per game and is shooting 52.2% from the field and 94.1% from the free-throw line.

"I've had two or three people say she looks like she's playing back in 2003," said Agler. "That's a compliment; that's a tribute to her. She's worked hard. We don't necessarily run a lot of things for her; she just finds a way to score and get things done for us."

That Agler chose 2003 is significant. That season, Cash finished fifth in MVP voting and was a Second Team All-WNBA pick, leading her Detroit Shock team to the WNBA championship. Cash was putting together a similar effort the follow season when, just after winning a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic Team, she tore her left ACL.

Cash returned to the lineup by midseason in 2005, but never put up the same kind of numbers in Detroit because teammate Cheryl Ford emerged and the Shock added guard Katie Smith. Plus Cash has dealt with other injuries, including a back that bothered her most of last season.

Now, Cash is healthy, comfortable playing for Agler and with her new teammates, and her numbers reflect that. What has made Cash's play so valuable to the Storm is that she has been able to get her points out of the flow of the offense without a number of plays being called for her.

In particular, Cash has done a good job of moving without the ball and her teammates have found her for easy opportunities in the paint. With the team still getting comfortable on offense, that ability to score in the flow has been critical.

"Swin's very good at just playing," said Sue Bird, her college teammate at Connecticut. "A lot of what Swin does is hustle, it's offensive rebounds and putbacks, it's getting to the free-throw line, backcuts and just movement. That's what our team needs. She is the one person who's doing that and not thinking too much. You definitely see where she can be effective for us."

"Some people need a lot of plays called for them," explained Cash. "Our offense is so that I can move without the basketball and still play and help my team in so many different facets. People can't just defend me one way, say this is her play and we have to defend her; you always have to have pressure on me because I can get a rebound or I can post and step out. I like being versatile like that. I think that's helped me as far as being a better player."

Cash is no stranger to playing with talented teammates. After teaming with future WNBA starters Bird, Asjha Jones, Tamika Raymond and Diana Taurasi at UConn, she started alongside several All-Stars in Detroit, including Ford, Smith and Deanna Nolan. Still, the quality of the Storm's other starters and the attention opposing defenses pay to them has helped Cash get good opportunities.

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"Our offense, it's pretty much opportunity for everyone," she said. "It's not just one or two players. At any point in time, anyone within our offense can go off. For me, I like to take advantage of my opportunities, and I think that's why I've been able to have so many, because I've been able to play and not so much focus in on you have to execute this or execute that. Our offense is very fluid."

When the Storm acquired Cash in a February trade with Detroit, Agler spoke about putting her in opportunities to take advantage of her strengths. So far, her performance has been largely what he envisioned. About the only one unimpressed by the way she has started the season is Cash herself.

"I think I've been consistent but I think I can be a lot better," she said. "I expect so much more of myself, more than people expect. My expectations are high as far as how I play. Watching myself on film, there are a lot of opportunities where I could have been better on the defensive end; offensively I could have helped the team out more. I look at that as a positive thing; people are telling me right now I'm playing good, but I can do even better than that."