In Lennox’s Absence, Storm Turns to Wright

'Big Game' On Tap for Storm
Tanisha Wright Player Page
Storm News Archive
Kevin Pelton, | August 8, 2005
Seattle Storm guard Betty Lennox missed her first game of the season Saturday against the New York Liberty. After injuring her left wrist against the Indiana Fever, an injury preliminarily diagnosed as a sprain, Lennox flew home to Seattle over the weekend to meet with a specialist.

After sitting out Sunday's practice, Lennox, who is wearing a large brace on her left wrist, visited a doctor Monday afternoon. The results of that visit could determine how long, if at all, Lennox will be sidelined. Until then, the Storm is planning to be without Lennox for tomorrow's showdown with the Houston Comets (7:00 p.m., KJR 950 AM, ).

"I said this to the people in New York - she's not a rookie anymore. She's a player who's had valuable experience."
Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images
On Saturday, the Storm turned to rookie Tanisha Wright, who made her first career start against the Liberty, to replace Lennox. Wright had four points and four rebounds in 28 minutes of action and will continue to start at shooting guard.

"She played really well throughout the game," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan Monday. "I talked with her at length about not being a one-dimensional driver - that was her reputation in college. She's got a beautiful shot. First possession of the game, against a zone, she knocks down an outside shot and I think New York was like, 'What?' Her maturity and her composure were big."

Many coaches would have hesitated to move a rookie into the starting lineup in the middle of a playoff race, but Donovan pointed out that, by this point of the year, Wright is now a rookie in name only.

"I said this to the people in New York - she's not a rookie anymore," said Donovan. "She's a player who's had valuable experience. She's played with our starting lineup quite a bit in practice and also when Sue (Bird) was out. She's gotten every kind of experience imaginable. It really is coming into play now - also for Fran (Zara), because she's getting more minutes in the rotation now."

Asked if she plays differently as a starter, Wright got off a good line, answering, "I don't know; it's only my first game!"

"In terms of mindset, you have to just understand that you have to be ready right away," she added. "You can't expect to wait until seven or eight minutes into the game and then expect to come in and do something. You have to be ready from the gate."

Before the game, Lennox phoned Wright for a last-minute chat. The veteran starter has emerged as something of a mentor for the rookie.

"Betty's been a big help since the beginning of training camp," said Wright. She was one of the first people that extended herself to anybody who came into training camp. She's been a blessing to have around."

While Wright has shown promise as a rookie, she can't be asked to replace Lennox's production by herself. That's a team effort, with much of the responsibility falling to Bird, which was why Donovan was disappointed when Bird shot only twice in the first half Saturday.

"Everybody's got to, as a group, step up a little more," said Donovan. "We were disappointed with Sue in the first half - she took two shots, wasn't being aggressive at all. She has to stay aggressive, now in particular when Betty's out."

Donovan also pointed out that it's more than just Lennox's 12.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game the Storm misses without her in the lineup.

"It's not just points, it's the mindset," said Donovan. "Betty, you have got to guard her. You can't forget about her. She's dangerous. She could miss her first 10 shots, you know she could hit the next 10, so it's a different team with her on the floor. It's one less defender that can focus on Lauren (Jackson). With T, they're still shading off T into the post to try to clog things up there. It's different. Betty's a different type of player; she's one of the best players in the league."

  • Donovan does not anticipate using Iziane Castro Marques at shooting guard in Lennox's absence because of the need for a second strong ballhandler in the backcourt.

  • As she often does, Donovan gave the Storm a chance to end practice early by converting two free throws after a big score. And then another chance and another. After five other players missed, Zara was a hero to her teammates by knocking down two foul shots.