Notebook: Abrosimova a Key Addition
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | April 27, 2010
The announcement Tuesday that guard Chelsea Newton is retiring took one of the contenders out of the mix in the crowded battle to make the Seattle Storm's roster.
"We're still going to have a lot of competition," observed Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "It clears thing up a little bit, what our final roster could look like. It eliminates some of the potential options."
The additions Agler and company have made to the roster in the last month give the team a great deal of flexibility in building the bench on the perimeter even without Newton. Drafting Alison Lacey and Tanisha Smith and signing veteran Loree Moore offered the Storm options, including moving Sue Bird off the ball alongside either Lacey and Smith. Agler capped off the moves by signing Svetlana Abrosimova last week. The WNBA veteran, primarily a small forward but capable of playing the two-guard, is an important upgrade to the Storm's second unit.
"I think she's got a great chance to make the team," said Agler. "She's a seasoned veteran and she's been through it. She's a great competitor and she's got tremendous instincts for the game. She doesn't back down from people. She's a competitor. She can score and she can stretch the defense. The thing you've got to do with Svetlana is get her to play disciplined defensively because she's a gambler, she's a risk-taker - which is not all bad, but you've got to get it harnessed."
Agler has plenty of experience with Abrosimova, having drafted her and coached her during her first two WNBA seasons in Minnesota. Assistant Coach Nancy Darsch also worked with Abrosimova in the same role with the Lynx. That means the Storm knows exactly what to expect in terms of Abrosimova's personality and how she will fit in with the team in the locker room. Her experience playing alongside Bird and Swin Cash at the University of Connecticut is a plus there as well.
On the court, Abrosimova's game is proven. During her last full season, 2007, she averaged 10.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, shooting 44.6 percent from three-point range. Abrosimova sat out the first half of the 2008 season to prepare to play for Russia in the Olympics, then returned briefly with the Connecticut Sun before not playing in the WNBA last year. But Abrosimova did not have to be talked into a return.
"She sort of recruited us a little bit," said Agler, who met with Abrosimova during the Euroleague Final Four in Valencia, Spain earlier this month. "I'm not saying that in any kind of boastful way. I just think she looked around and there were things she wanted in her next experience. The city of Seattle, the fans we have, her being familiar with Sue and Swin, wanting to play with people like Lauren (Jackson), being familiar with me - I think there were a lot of things she liked about our situation. It made it better when we pursued her."
Abrosimova is starting for European power UMMC Ekaterinburg, and had 13 points on Tuesday as Ekaterinburg defeated Bird and Spartak Moscow Region 87-79 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Russian Superleague Finals.
CHINESE NATIONAL TEAM MATCHUP ALLOWS STORM TO EVALUATE
After three days of practice against each other and the male practice squad, the Storm will face new opposition on Wednesday when the team travels to Oregon to take on the Chinese National Team on the Nike campus in Beaverton. While he's not exactly sure what kind of format the practice or scrimmage will take, Agler is looking forward to the chance to learn more about the new players in camp.
"To me, it's not about going down and winning or losing," he said. "It's going down and seeing what some of the people we don't have a lot of knowledge about, that we only have three days of practice with, how they perform. It's evaluation time."
The Chinese team will have a major advantage in terms of cohesiveness. While the Storm is just three practices into implementing Agler's offense and defense, many members of the national team have been playing together for years. Under former Head Coach Tom Maher, now coaching the English National Team, China finished fourth in the Beijing Olympics.
"We're going to play against a national team that's been together for a long time," noted Agler. "They were sort of a young team, even in the 2008 Olympics, and they were very good. They'll be a good team. They will throw some things at us that we haven't prepared for."
The Storm scrimmaged against the Chinese National Team during training camp in both 2004 and 2005, playing both games at The Furtado Center.