Storm Adds Backcourt Depth in Draft
With his Seattle Storm not holding a first-round pick after trading the fourth overall selection to Detroit in exchange for Swin Cash in February, Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Brian Agler saw no need for misdirection leading up to Wednesday's WNBA Draft. Agler told reporters yesterday that the Storm would look to add depth in the backcourt, and that's exactly what transpired.
In the second round, picking 22nd overall, the Storm drafted All-Big East performer Allie Quigley from DePaul, primarily a shooting guard but capable of playing multiple positions on the perimeter. A round later, the Storm used the 36th overall pick on George Washington point guard Kimberly Beck, the Atlantic 10's Player of the Year as a senior.
Agler and the Storm coaching staff will have plenty of candidates to choose from at guard. The Storm's training-camp roster features nine players who are primarily guards, including starters Bird and Sheryl Swoopes. Incumbent reserves Tanisha Wright and Doneeka Lewis return, while the Storm added Roneeka Hodges in a February trade with Atlanta. The Storm inked Dee Davis, a second-round pick in the 2007 Draft who played briefly with Houston, to a training-camp contract.
"It's going to be interesting to see her come in and compete," Agler said.
The Storm's depth at guard should make for a highly competitive training camp.
"All these players, if they're getting their one opportunity, they have to be ready from the start," said Agler. "There will be some veteran players that are in that situation too - they're going to have to have a good training camp to make the roster. It's like that throughout the league. It's not just here. It gets competitive. I've always found that the best training camps are the ones that are the most competitive, because people have to bring their best on a daily basis."
The Storm is just a week and a half from beginning camp on April 20, with the first practice scheduled for the next day, and anticipation is building.
"I'm excited for the 20th," Agler said. "Sheryl called this morning and said she was excited about the draft, wished me a good draft day. I said, 'That's interesting. First time that's ever happened to me, somebody's wished me a good draft day.' Yolanda (Griffith)'s excited. I stay in contact with Sue (Bird) and Lauren (Jackson) and they're all excited about the additions that we've made."
As in years past, the Storm will open up without several veterans who have yet to finish their seasons overseas. Cash will be in China with the U.S. Senior Women's National Team for the first week of camp, while Janell Burse and Katie Gearlds are likely to join the team during the first week of May. Bird and Jackson, playing together in Russia, and Wright could arrive a little after that.
At times in the past, the absences early in camp have created something of a leadership void. Not so this year, as the Storm will have the experience provided by veterans Swoopes and Griffith from day one. They'll be joined by a group of younger players fighting for spots on the team. That pool is likely to grow a little before the start of training camp, with Agler hoping to add two more post players to add depth up front.
"We'll probably add a couple more," he said. "We need to find some post players to help us get started in camp. I will say this - once you get a person in here, then they have as good a shot to make the team as anybody. We don't bring people in just to practice. We're going to bring people in that we feel like can challenge for a position."
"We sort of had Allie penciled in or as a strong potential at the 22nd pick," Agler explained. "Saw her play in the Big East Tournament, followed her career. She really played well in the combine. She gives us somebody that can run the floor and I feel like can play right with these veteran players that we have. Shoots the ball extremely well."
Beck was part of a group of point guards considered possible second- or third-round picks, but stood out to the Storm with her solid size for the position (she's listed at 5-8) and her leadership.
"Very good leader, sees the floor," noted Agler. "Sort of Sue Bird's height as a point, which for the options in the draft this year, most of the point guards were smaller. Not that we didn't like those people, but she's sort of a little bit different than the options that were out there. Met her and talked to her after the combine - just a bright person and you can tell she's got great leadership abilities."
After selecting Quigley and Beck, Agler was clear - the Storm had met its goals going into the draft.
"We wanted to get support in the backcourt, so from that standpoint we did," he said. "We'll have some other people coming in that will be competing for spots. Competition usually brings the best out of people, so we're looking forward to that."