Storm Starts Camp Slowly
Two practices into 2005 training camp, Seattle Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan is realistic about the challenges she faces trying to install her offense and defense with nine new players amongst the 14 in camp and another eight players still playing overseas.
"Rough around the edges is a good way to say it," said Donovan after Tuesday's morning practice, the first real workout of the year after the Storm used Monday's evening session for "getting the jitters out."
"It's probably the same (as I expected); it's just difficult without a point guard in camp who has any experience in our system and still trying to figure out the three and the five hole," Donovan explained. "It's definitely challenging. And Lauren (Jackson)'s not out there a whole lot of the time. We've just got to keep working on it and stay patient. That's the name of the game."
With starting point guard Sue Bird playing in Russia right now and free-agent pickup Jessica Bibby kept in Australia by a back injury, the Storm has only a pair of training-camp invitees, Shaquala Williams and rookie Amy Taylor from Seattle Pacific University, at point guard. Donovan is also using first-round pick Tanisha Wright, a shooting guard by trade, at point guard for the next week or two, but all three players are still learning the offense themselves. That makes teaching too much offense difficult.
The Storm's progress on offense is also limited by the progress of Jackson, who is still working her way back to 100% after off-season ankle surgery. Currently, Jackson is limited to an hour and 15 minutes of court time per practice, without any full-court work. Barring a setback, that limit should be ramped up over the course of training camp. "We put in some offense this morning with her in there, going through it dry, 5-on-0," said Donovan. "She wasn't out there for any of the 5-on-5.
"We're trying to build her slowly in."
Jackson was positive after practice, telling reporters, "Today was really quite good, very competitive."
Bird's absence and Jackson's limited availability means the Storm is also limited in terms of leaders on the floor. Forward Alicia Thompson, who has the most experience of any returning Storm player in camp, led stretching drills after practice.
"We do have a leadership void," said Donovan. " Betty (Lennox) has been working hard to step in and give us some of that. Lauren, when she's on the floor, has been good, but there still is a void without Sue here."
With the Storm limited early in camp, patience will be key for Donovan, even when it comes to evaluating talent for upcoming roster cuts.
"There's no rush on it," said Donovan. "We want players to settle in a little bit and be able to relax and see who's thinking and who's learning as they go."
"I don't think she's going to try to kill us in the first week," said Jackson.
"We beat each other up in the West enough that I really didn't want to spend a lot of time with those exhibitions this year," explained Donovan. "So going East and working against some of the better teams in the East is preferable. We can work against the Liberty up there and, hopefully, Connecticut."