Seattle Storm: 2007 Preview

SEATTLE STORM
2006 Results: The Storm finished
18-16, (.529, 4th in the West).
Roster | Stats | 2007 Schedule
Head coach: Anne Donovan enters her fifth season with the team.
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2007 Probable Starters:
C:
Janell Burse
PF:
Lauren Jackson
SF:
Iziane Castro Marques
SG:
Betty Lennox
PG:
Sue Bird
2007 Draft Results:
Rd. 1:
Katie Gearlds
Rd. 3:
Brandie Hoskins
2006 Leaders:
Points
Lauren Jackson, 19.5 ppg
Rebs.
Lauren Jackson, 7.7 rpg
Assts.
Sue Bird, 4.8 apg
Blocks
Lauren Jackson, 1.7 bpg
Steals
Sue Bird, 1.8 spg
COMING BACK


Jackson
All five starters will be returning for the Storm in 2007, a season after posting an 18-16 record and finishing in the top five in points per game, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.

Seattle's most dominant presence is power forward/center Lauren Jackson. She finished in the top five in the league in points (19.5 per game), rebounds (7.7), blocks (1.7), free throw percentage (89.9) and field goal percentage (53.5). The Aussie, who turns only 26 on May 11, was named to the West's All-Star team, the All-WNBA First Team and was even a part of the WNBA's All-Decade Team.

Point guard Sue Bird was LJ's biggest provider. The five-year veteran posted an 11.4 ppg average while dishing out 4.8 apg, helping to make the Storm one of the most threatening offensive sides in the league. Fans voted her onto the Western Conference All-Star squad and she joined Jackson on the All-Decade team.

Guard Betty Lennox contributed mightily with explosive scoring (13.7 ppg) and above-average rebounding (4.0 rpg) at her position. Center Janell Burse made her presence felt in the paint at both ends of the court, working her way to averages of 11.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg and 0.9 bpg.


Castro Marques
Meanwhile, Brazilian forward/guard Iziane Castro Marques is on the verge of breaking out in a major way. She averaged 7.2 points a game in 2006, but could be taking on more responsibilities in the coming year.

Veteran forward Wendy Palmer will back after missing almost the entire 2006 season to injury, second-year wing Barbara Turner is hoping to improve on her rookie campaign and Tanisha Wright should also provide valuable minutes off the bench. Ashley Robinson also returns for Seattle, having come over midway through last season from Chicago.

NOT COMING BACK

The only players who won't be returning in 2007 are Edwige Lawson, who is remaining overseas this summer, and Shaunzinski Gortman, Cisti Greenwalt and Tiffani Johnson, none of whom played major roles last season.

ADDITIONS

Snatched up by the Storm in the Sting Dispersal draft, former Lady Vol Tye'sha Fluker will add depth in the post. Shyra Ely, who the Storm signed off waivers from San Antonio, is another Pat Summitt protégé. She is a tough defender who will come off the bench to make fits for opposing forwards.


Gearlds
The Storm also picked up heralded Purdue wing Katie Gearlds with the seventh pick in the 2007 draft. A tough player on both ends of the court, she has an eye for the basket, shoots a high percentage from the charity stripe and is likely to receive a lot of minutes in her rookie season.

In the third round, Seattle chose Brandie Hoskins. The former Ohio State Buckeye is unlikely to play in 2007 due to injury. Another offseason pickup is Italian guard Francesca Zara, who last played for the Storm in 2005.

OUTLOOK

Despite earning a playoff berth last year, the Storm were unable to sustain their ferocity, due in large part to a lack of depth on the bench. The addition of Gearlds, the return of Palmer and the maturation of Castro Marques will all help in the coming season. Still, if Seattle has any hope of repeating its 2004 title, though, the team will depend on its star veterans to lead the way. If they can stay healthy and pick up their defense, don't rule out another deep playoff run in 2007.

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