Storm Finalizes Roster

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Kevin Pelton, | May 20, 2005
The Seattle Storm made a trio of moves before Friday's noon Pacific deadline to finalize rosters for the start of the 2005 season. The Storm waived guard Shaquala Williams, placed forward Natalia Vodopyanova on the injured list with patellar tendinitis in her right knee and temporarily suspended center Suzy Batkovic.

For Storm Coach Anne Donovan, deciding between Williams and Italian Francesca Zara for the backup point guard spot was the most difficult decision she had to make.

"There's no question that Shaq was as hard to let go as Adia (Barnes), because she had such a good training camp and really worked to give us what we asked for," said Donovan after her team practiced Friday.

"There's no question that Shaq was as hard to let go as Adia, because she had such a good training camp and really worked to give us what we asked for."
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty
"She did everything we asked her to do, but a couple of things factored in. The size (Williams is 5-6) is a little bit of a concern for me. The confidence that Francesca has running our offense after a very short time is evident. Defensively, she's not as far along as Shaq is, but we're hopeful we can bring that along. And then the number one thing for me in the last couple of teams became age. This team's a very, very young team, and a little added maturity is going to help us."

Zara did not arrive in Seattle until last Saturday following the conclusion of her season in Italy, but that was enough time to convince Donovan that she could defend WNBA point guards. On offense, Zara has quickly fit in and shown skills distributing and shooting the basketball.

The 28-year-old was excited after practice.

"I'm very, very happy because, for me, this is a dream come true," Zara said.

"I've tried for four years (to come to the WNBA), but I play in Como and we always go to the (Italian) final, so we finish in late May, so I never had the chance to come here. I don't know what to say. I'm very excited. I have to go call my mom and tell her I made the team."

For Storm original Simone Edwards, no certainty to make the roster after returning from Italy late and bothered by a sprained ankle, the emotions were different.

"I wasn't worried, so I can't say a sense of relief," said Edwards. "It's a great feeling to be back here after winning the ring to be part of the team to collect the ring. That's just as good as it gets, to be part of the team thatís going to collect the ring that I've worked so hard since the inaugural season for. I'm just really excited to be here and thankful to Coach for giving me another chance."

On a roster that is suddenly quite young, the veteran presence of Edwards, the only Storm player over 30 and one of only three with at least five years of experience, is important.

"Her experience and her energy; she still does great things for us off the bench, so it's important," said Donovan. "I hope she can get healthy and continue to contribute as she has in the past."

When Batkovic arrives in Seattle during the first week of June, the Storm will have to make a move to make room for her on the active roster. A second player could be placed on the injured list, depending on whether the Storm has room under the salary cap to add Batkovic's contract, but Donovan said she anticipates making another cut, probably tied to Batkovic joining the team

"We're not seeing the last (roster)," Donovan explained. "I'd like to settle in right now with these players and develop them, but there's a lot going on right now with free agents and players getting waived. As always, we just continue to make sure we're putting the best players on the floor.

"Hopefully by the first week of June, I'll be a lot more clear on (rookie forward) Ashley (Battle) and Natalia."

Even while she gets to make dreams come true for some players, like Zara, the end of training camp is a difficult time for Donovan, like any coach. That was particularly true this year, when the Storm had tight battles for roster spots at virtually every position.

"I've got to make hard choices; it's my job," said Donovan. "They're not always the popular choices, but I've got to do what I think is best for this team and organization. That's going back to some of the free agency moves where we didn't match offers. I'm looking not just at today, I'm looking at the big picture. It's hard for some other people to see the big picture."