Fans at KeyArena welcome Lauren Jackson back and honor her accomplishments in the Olympics. (Neil Enns/Storm Photos)

Jackson Back in a Storm Uniform

Kevin Pelton, | August 22, 2012

Lauren Jackson looked more at home Wednesday. A night after watching the Seattle Storm's game from the bench in what she joked was her "Sue Sylvester" look - Storm warm-ups and old-school sneakers - Jackson was back in a jersey and shorts for her first practice with the team less than 48 hours after returning to Seattle.

While Wednesday's brief session consisted mostly of film work and a short walkthrough on the court, the better to conserve energy with just one day between games, Jackson was able to refresh her memory on a bit of the Storm playbook. She finished her day by putting on a long-range clinic during her usual post-practice routine of shooting from a variety of locations just inside and beyond the three-point line.

"Being back in the gym is cool," Jackson told reporters afterward. "It feels good. We didn't do much today, but definitely coming back in and being on the court is fun."

Lauren Jackson high fives opponents after the Storm's loss to Minnesota.
Neil Enns/Storm Photos

After watching Tuesday's game from the bench, Jackson will make her 2012 debut on Thursday.

Having traveled to three continents within the span of eight weeks - from London to Australia to Seattle - Jackson is still feeling the effects of jet lag. ("I had to press snooze about 100 times this morning," she noted. "I'm fine. I expect that for a couple of days.") Yet she's ready to take the court for her 2012 debut with the Storm on Thursday against the Indiana Fever (7:00 p.m., 1090 AM, LiveAccess, ).

"The more I see the girls out there, the more I want to get out there," Jackson said before Tuesday's game.

Jackson will return to her spot in the starting lineup, presumably in place of center Ewelina Kobryn, to give the Storm more depth in the frontcourt. Head Coach Brian Agler anticipates limiting her playing time to about 10-15 minutes tomorrow as Jackson works through travel-related fatigue.

More important than the immediate boost Jackson will provide is how she fits into a complete Storm frontcourt with Camille Little and a healthy Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters come the stretch run and postseason. Agler and the coaching staff will have the next 12 games to experiment with lineups and combinations (something he'd prefer to do in practice) to figure out how to utilize the four experienced options and develop chemistry among them.

"I think for us now it's just about making sure we're in the best possible shape we can be going into the playoffs," said Jackson. "I've heard so many good things about this team and about the players on the team. The coaches love coaching the team. That's enjoyable. I want to be a part of that.

"Heading into the playoffs, I want to be playing well within the team system. I need to learn the plays again and everything. Obviously, we need to make the playoffs, which will probably happen. We need to make sure we're all playing well together."

There is also an eagerness to see just how good this Storm team might be when fully formed. Despite Jackson's absence and a series of injuries to the frontcourt, the Storm has been able to stay near .500 and solidify its hold on a playoff spot in the Western Conference. How much more the team might be able to accomplish with a full 11-player roster remains to be seen.

"It's good to have everybody on the same court, in the same locker room - not that they're all playing right now," said Agler. "I think we've sort of been anxious for this at some point. I don't think it's all going to fall into place right away, but I think we're going to have enough time to get in a good spot."

Individually, Jackson feels like she's in the best spot she's been in some time after dealing with injuries in the wake of her 2010 MVP campaign. She was just coming back from a tendon injury suffered overseas when a hip injury early in the 2011 Storm season required surgery. Jackson returned to the court in time for the stretch run and the playoffs, but was nowhere near 100 percent physically, even into the European season with Ros Casares Valencia.

"It was hard," she said. "I didn't feel like I was able to get where I wanted to be, then when I went to Europe I was playing the three spot. Then I went back to Australia, and playing one-on-one with Liz Cambage when you've been playing the three spot doesn't do much for your confidence.

"I guess it took me a while to find how aggressive I'm supposed to be. I think that once the Olympics rolled around I found that, so hopefully I can flow straight back into it."

Jackson finished the Olympics third in both scoring (15.9 points per game) and rebounding (7.9 boards per game). She saved her best performances for the medal round, recording a double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds) against the USA in a semifinal loss and scoring 25 points with 11 rebounds as Australia defeated Russia to claim the bronze medal.

That was Jackson's last game action, 11 days ago, and she expects to spend a little time shaking off any rust.

"I'm sure it will take a couple of games to get it back," she said. "Maybe a week and a half."

The last month has been a whirlwind for Jackson. After serving as flag bearer for the Australian Olympic Team during Opening Ceremonies, she became the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women's basketball competition and won her fourth medal. Back home in Australia, Jackson was greeted as a returning hero. She helped lead the Aussie delegation off the plane in Sydney, and later met the Prime Minister and was given the keys to the city.

"It was something that I'll never forget," Jackson said. "Getting on the plane saying goodbye to everyone, it was the first time I've been in tears saying goodbye to people in such a long time. Probably in ever. I don't get that emotional. It was just the end of that era. Now I've got to focus and move forward. I think it would have been easier if I was allowed to come straight back here, but then again I wouldn't have changed what happened for the world."

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