Cleared for Practice, Cash Returns to Seattle

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Kevin Pelton, | May 22, 2009
Just in time for the Seattle Storm's first preseason game, forward Swin Cash returned to Seattle Thursday afternoon. Cash was cleared for non-contact practice work in an appointment on Monday, the 10-week anniversary of her back surgery performed in her native Pittsburgh by Dr. Joseph Maroon.

"I feel good," she told reporters in the locker room before the game. "He was really happy about my progress. He says I look very healthy. My wound had healed pretty good. He told me to jump back into activities - no contact right now, but that I can do some exercises and drills. I have to build my stamina and cardio back up before I actually can get in there and go 5-on-5 and that sort of stuff."

"Right now I just want to play basketball because I haven't played in so long."
Dan Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Cash was due into Seattle on Wednesday, but air travel woes pushed her back a day. She watched Thursday's game from the bench (even finding time to send tweets to her @SwinCash Twitter account), greeting fans on the concourse before the game and joining the Storm broadcast team of Dick Fain and Adia Barnes for an in-game interview on KKNW 1150 AM. Having had to watch, Cash is ready to start ramping up her rehab.

"I am (antsy), but I have to be smart," she said. "I understand that. Right now I just want to play basketball because I haven't played in so long. Because you feel good, you think you can jump in there and play, but you have to do the right things. It was my back this time, but if I don't build myself up, another muscle could compensate and then I hurt something else. You don't want to do that. I don't want to set myself back because I feel like I've made great strides and a lot of progress."

Since the surgery, Cash has been able to lift weights - adding a little extra bulk in the process - run on an underwater treadmill and even do some boxing workouts to try to maintain her cardio. She rehabbed in Pittsburgh, her offseason home in Miami and also spent some time at Kansas University with her strength and conditioning coach at UConn, Andrea Hurdy, who now works with the Jayhawks.

Now, in addition to being able to join her teammates on the floor for non-contact drills like dummying through offensive plays, Cash is free to turn up the intensity of cardio workouts. She'll be able to ramp up her limits incrementally each day, starting with running about a mile a day to get closer to game shape. How quickly her back responds to the ongoing rehab will determine when Cash is cleared to resume contact.

"(Dr. Maroon) said it's pretty much going to be me talking with the doctors, talking with him, communicating back and forth," she explained. "There's not a period where you can say, 'After a week, go ahead jump in there.' I could respond in a couple days. You really don't know."

The Storm was off Friday, but Cash will participate in her first practice since the surgery on Saturday. She and the Storm hope her rehab process continues as well as it has gone so far.