Little Makes Big Plays in Game 1
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | Sept. 13, 2010
Camille Little knew what was coming. On ABC's broadcast of the huddle leading up to the Seattle Storm's final possession, Little could clearly be heard telling Head Coach Brian Agler, "She'll make it." She - Storm point guard Sue Bird - did just that, draining a pull-up jumper with 2.6 seconds left in Sunday's Game 1 of the WNBA Finals to defeat the Atlanta Dream 79-77.
"Yeah, are you kidding me?" explained Little after Monday's practice. "That's Sue. He was talking about getting ready to rebound. I said, 'She's going to hit the shot. What do you mean about getting ready to rebound? Let's go.' I was confident. After she hit it and we came back to the huddle, I told her, 'I knew you were going to hit that shot.'"
Bird's heroics helped overshadow the other contributors in Game 1, and Little was one of the biggest.
"Sometimes people don't give credit to it because you have an unbelievable shot like Sue's and that's where the focus goes," said Swin Cash, "but I thought Camille was a big reason why we won Game 1."
In her first taste of the WNBA Finals, Little recorded her first playoff double-double. She had 18 points and 11 key rebounds, both postseason career highs. On a day when both teams had trouble hitting from the field, Little made seven of her 10 shot attempts and was a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line. Her contributions, however, went beyond the box score.
"Every time they made a run, every time we relaxed, Camille was the one to step up, whether it be a defensive stop or a three-point play," said Bird. "She had the energy, she was encouraging the rest of the team. That's something Camille has done for us the entire season."
The energy Little provides took on extra importance because Cash, the team's other primary energizer, spent much of the game on the bench with foul trouble.
"I think our whole team realized there was a void," Little said. "Swin's a big part of our team. When she wasn't out there, I think we got a feeling of 'Let's step up now.'"
The Dream's small starting lineup presented Little with openings on offense. Playing against smaller defenders much of the time, Little was able to crash the offensive glass. She was also freed up by the defensive attention Atlanta placed on Storm star Lauren Jackson.
"I just tried to take advantage of any opportunity that was available," said Little. "They were doubling Lauren every time she got the ball. If I was open, I was trying to get to the basket and occupy space - make them guard me instead of just sitting on her all night. It worked out. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball."
In turn, Little did a fine job of finishing. Her 12 first-half points helped force Atlanta to devote less attention to the Storm's pick-and-rolls by going under the screen, giving Bird chances to score.
At the other end of the floor, the Storm asked Little to defend on the perimeter when both starting units were on the floor. She capably handled the assignment and delivered two of the game's biggest defensive plays. Early on, Little drew a charge for Angel McCoughtry's second foul, helping put McCoughtry on the bench for the better part of the first half. In the final minute, it was Little who stepped out to defend McCoughtry after a switch. She forced McCoughtry into a miss, setting up Bird's shot.
Little's teammates certainly took notice of those contributions on both ends.
"If I had to pick a team hero, it would be Camille," said Bird. "She was the key to the game."