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Elise Woodward Looks Ahead To Storm Summer 2003

This spring, Elise Woodward will enter her third season as the broadcast game analyst for all Storm games. Since the team’s second season in 2001, she has teamed up with play-by-play announcer David Locke to call all the action from courtside. Elise has seen the Storm and WNBA All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird grow and shine before her eyes. With the Storm’s training camp just over a month away, STORM.WNBA.COM gave Woodward a call to collect her thoughts on last season and the prospects for this summer.

STORM.WNBA.COM: What was your favorite memory from the 2002 Storm season?
ELISE WOODWARD: My favorite moment was the game at Washington when the Storm was in the middle of a difficult road trip and the playoffs seemed to be getting further out of reach. Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson just flat out turned the season around that night in a packed house against an Eastern Conference Playoff team. The Storm stole a game and it was the turning point in the franchise’s first-ever season postseason berth.

STORM.WNBA.COM: How can the Storm stay among the WNBA’s elite teams?
WOODWARD: This will be a difficult year for the Storm to get back to the playoffs. Besides two-time defending WNBA Champion Los Angeles Sparks, Houston Comets and San Antonio Silver Stars (formerly the Utah Starzz), the Storm will have to battle Sacramento once again for a playoff berth. The Monarchs will be healthy again, which is scary. Yolanda Griffith is one of the best post players in the game and she will be joined by a top draft pick to go along with Ticha Penichiero. Ticha remains one of the game’s premier point guards.

STORM.WNBA.COM: What kind of player do the Storm need in order to complement its two greatest strengths – namely Sue at the point and Lauren at the post?
WOODWARD: The Storm need to find a three player (small forward) who can defend and rebound, plus score about 10 points a game. Lauren and Sue should get the majority of the shots, but they need a third scoring option who will show up consistently. Whenever Kamila Vodichcova had big scoring nights, the Storm were difficult to beat.

STORM.WNBA.COM: On the current roster, who do you think can develop into the “third option” to Sue and Lauren?
WOODWARD: Due to the change in the coaching staff, I have not had a chance to check in with Anne Donovan in regards to who she thinks will be able to develop on the current Storm roster. However, I know that Amanda Lassiter is a 6-foot, athletic small forward who showed flashes of brilliance last year and she is an underrated passer from the perimeter.

STORM.WNBA.COM: Is there any particular part of Sue Bird’s game she needs to work on as she prepares for her second season in the WNBA?
WOODWARD: Sue is already, in my opinion, the best offensive point guard in the game. She is a pure shooter who sees the floor like she has four sets of eyes. She always maintains her composure, which is a critical element to being a successful point guard. For Sue to become even better, she needs to put on some muscle to compete with all the players out there who will try to physically wear her down. Also, her on-the-ball defense has room for improvement.

STORM.WNBA.COM: How do you see Lauren’s continued emergence as an MVP-caliber player?
WOODWARD: Lauren Jackson is one of the best all-around post players in the game. I think she is right up there with Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson as the most difficult players in the game to defend. She can shoot the three, put the ball on the floor and draw fouls where she is a solid free-throw shooter. To become even better than Leslie and Thompson, she must hit the boards and average around 10 rebounds per game. She is athletic enough and tough enough to get that done. I think if she can stay healthy this season, she will have an outstanding year. Last yea,r she had to sit out the first couple of games with an ankle injury and she didn't really get into a groove until midseason.

STORM.WNBA.COM: What are you most looking forward to in calling the Storm games this summer?
WOODWARD: I am mostly looking forward to watching the development and improvement of Sue and Lauren. They were two of the very best players in the league last year and they were both under 22 years of age. Unbelievable! Now that they know what they are up against and have another year of national team experience under their belts, I expect big things from them.