Media Day Notebook: Storm Remembers Dydek

Kevin Pelton, | May 26, 2011

Seattle Storm players gathered for Friday's annual Media Day at KeyArena with heavy hearts. On Thursday night, the WNBA community learned that long-time WNBA center Margo Dydek had passed away at age 37 after suffering a heart attack last week in Brisbane, Australia. Dydek is survived by her husband and two children.

Dydek and Storm reserve Le'coe Willingham played together with the Connecticut Sun from 2005-07, and Willingham was emotional when asked about Dydek's death.

"I tell people she was the sweetest person I ever met," said Willingham. "I knew she loved kids. She was awesome with Derrick [Willingham's son]. She kept Derrick sometimes - just let him come over - and he loved being with her, loved playing with her. She was just a great person, who could make you smile, make you laugh. There was not a negative bone in her body. She was just somebody you would like to be around."

The rest of the Storm players and coaches never worked with Dydek, but her influence was felt throughout the WNBA community. Several players responded to the news of Dydek's passing on Twitter, including Swin Cash, Lauren Jackson, Ashley Robinson and Katie Smith.

"We've got people on our team who played against her, who knew her," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "Anyone who knew Margo never had a bad thing to say about her. She always had a smile on her face."

"It's just shocking, I think," added Assistant Coach Nancy Darsch, "and very personal for so many of the players that played with her, played against her, knew her from overseas and knew the warmth and compassion she had as a person."

Zoll Thrown In

 Sharnee Zoll.
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

Zoll played for the Storm Wednesday after just one practice with the team.

The newest member of the Storm, point guard Sharnee Zoll, made her debut in Wednesday's preseason loss to the Los Angeles Sparks less than 48 hours after signing with the Storm as a free agent. Despite having just one practice under her belt, Zoll played well in her 15 minutes of action, handing out four assists.

"For me, it wasn't too bad," said Zoll. "Games are usually easier than practice anyway. I was in there with the vets - they were helping me out, talking a lot. It helped me learn. I think that's the only way to really learn is to get in there."

Having a friendly face on the Storm coaching staff has aided Zoll's transition. She's close with Storm Assistant Coach Jenny Boucek, a fellow Wahoo from the University of Virginia who has served as a mentor since the two met at a summer camp.

"She came and I was a counselor and she took me under her wing," Zoll said. "Her being a point guard - she was a great point guard at UVa - she talked to me and kept my head in it a lot. She led me through the last couple years of my college career. I was in the league before and it was disappointing for me, but she told me to keep my head up and keep playing hard.

"It's a blessing that I can be here with her. Anybody who has ever met her knows that she's one of the most positive people that you can be around. She exudes positivity and she makes everybody around her better. To be able to work out with her and see her every day is a great experience."

Since her brief stint with the Minnesota Lynx in 2008, Zoll has been playing overseas and working hard in the summer to address the weakest aspect of her game - perimeter shooting. The effort paid off with an excellent 2010-11 campaign for Zoll, who played for CCC Polkowice and led the Polish PLKK in assists. Now, Zoll hopes to show the Storm that she has improved as a player.

"Being that this is the second time, I think that's all I can do," she said. "I have an opportunity - take advantage of it. God blessed me with this. I think it's good I can show my shot, show my confidence and my leadership."

Injury Updates

While Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Katie Smith missed Wednesday's preseason opener, none of their injuries are considered serious. Jackson hasn't missed any practice time, but was a last-minute scratch when she felt some soreness warming up for the game with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Bird came down with back spasms early in the week, so she sat out a couple of practices in addition to the preseason game. Bird was scheduled to return for the Storm's practice after Media Day.

"It wasn't that serious," said Bird. "It's one of those things where you try to take care of it right away rather than have it linger."

"It wasn't that serious. It's one of those things where you try to take care of it right away rather than have it linger."
- Bird

She doesn't know yet whether she will play in Sunday's preseason finale against the Tulsa Shock at KeyArena (2:00 p.m., 1090 KPTK AM, ).

"I do want to play, personally, because I think it would be good to get out on the court one time before the real season starts, but you also have to keep in mind it's preseason," she explained. "We'll start today with practice and see where it goes."

Smith is dealing with Achilles tendinitis in her left heel. Rather than push the issue, the Storm has been cautious with Smith during training camp, hoping to "nip it in the bud."

The Storm's most serious injury may actually have been suffered during Wednesday's game. Late in the fourth quarter, new wing Belinda Snell rolled her left ankle. The injury will sideline her for "a period of time," according to Agler.

"It's OK," said Snell. "A little sore yesterday after waking up and then after the game. It's doing better today; I'm taking it day by day. In with (Head Athletic Trainer) Tom (Spencer) having treatment every day and we're just going to see how it heals up. Hopefully it will be alright for Opening Day."

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