Chones Impresses in First Practice

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Kevin Pelton, | May 20, 2006
The newest member of the Seattle Storm wasted little time in making an impression. Third-year center Kaayla Chones, signed Saturday as a free agent to fill the roster spot left open when Simone Edwards retired Friday, had a strong practice despite arriving in Seattle at 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

"I really like Kaayla," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan after practice. "I watched her a lot when she was in college and really have not watched her a lot since then just because she was sitting on the bench for two years. I really like the fact that she's a lefty, great body, athletic, she's got good post moves and already she's shown she can potentially help us. So good first day."

"I really like Kaayla. I really like the fact that she's a lefty, great body, athletic, she's got good post moves."
Mitchell Layton/NBAE/Getty
Chones displayed some savvy moves in the post as the Storm worked on pick-and-roll play in shell drills. She also drew a loud round of applause from the season ticket-holders in attendance at KeyArena when she stuck with a play to get a steal as the Storm scrimmaged its mostly-male practice squad.

Learning the offense on the fly, Chones spent much of what time she spent on the sidelines going over plays and sets with Assistant Coach Jessie Kenlaw.

"It was difficult just trying to remember all the plays and everything, but I'm a fast learner," said Chones. "I know that the coaches and staff and everybody are going to help me, the girls are going to help get me going. I'll be part of the system. It felt good to be out there, so I'm excited."

"We're asking to her run offenses she's never run before," added Donovan. "We're asking her to just feel her way, which is tough. She seems to be a little more reactive."

The Storm will likely need Chones to contribute immediately. With starting center Janell Burse almost certainly out for Opening Night tomorrow against the Los Angeles Sparks (6:00 p.m., FSN, ), Chones is one of four posts available to Donovan. Lauren Jackson, who practiced for an hour Saturday, and Wendy Palmer will start. Newcomer Tiffani Johnson will be the top post reserve, followed by Chones.

That kind of an opportunity is a big difference from what Chones experienced in Washington, where she had to battle veteran Chasity Melvin and Nakia Sanford for minutes in the middle after being drafted in the second round in 2004 by the Mystics.

"We had so many post players in my position," said Chones. "I was playing behind Chasity, who's obviously a veteran, and then another center. I'm just looking at this as a new start, a fresh start. I'm excited. I'm glad they wanted me and picked me up."

Chones found a familiar face on the Storm roster in rookie forward Barbara Turner. Chones, the daughter of eight-year NBA and two-year ABA veteran Jim Chones, grew up in Cleveland, as did Turner. The two played against each other in high school.

While the Storm has replaced Edwards, the roster may not yet be complete. There is room under the salary cap to add a 12th player, one with three years experience or less, and Donovan indicated the Storm is looking at point guards with an eye to the possibility of making an offer in the next week or so.

"I feel comfortable with what we've got," said Donovan, "but if there's a backup point that we like and we can get in here, we will do that."

The Storm has some interest in two-year veteran Jennifer Derevjanik, waived by Connecticut yesterday, but Donovan said there are several point guards available she likes.

Lennox in Car Accident

Storm guard Betty Lennox did not participate in the practice after getting in a car accident Friday in front of The Furtado Center. Lennox suffered some bruises and some whiplash, and did cardio Saturday but did not play. Officially, she is day-to-day, but Lennox said she expects to play against the Sparks.

"I plan on playing," said Lennox. "Right now, I'm just sore from the whiplash and all that stuff. I'm on muscle relaxants at the moment. I feel good, I'm just sore. Got checked out last night and everything's fine."

"We'll wait and see how she feels tomorrow," offered a more cautious Donovan. "It's minor whiplash, so I'm feeling pretty comfortable that tomorrow she'll be feeling better."

Season Ticket-Holder Tip-Off

Storm season ticket-holders got a chance to watch practice as part of a season tip-off event. Afterwards, players and coaches sat down for a fun-filled Q&A session hosted by Storm play-by-play broadcaster David Locke. Highlights included Sue Bird imitating Elaine's unorthodox dance stylings from Seinfeld and Tanisha Wright reenacting Donovan's dodgeball pratfall in practice last season, which former Storm forward Chelle Thompson described as one of her Top Ten Storm Memories for earlier this year.