Storm Returns to Key Sunday
The Storm will have starters Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson back in the lineup after they sat out Wednesday's preseason loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. Bird, who missed time as a caution after suffering back spasms, is feeling better and has practiced the last two days. The two players will start alongside the rest of the Storm's championship lineup.
Aaron Last/Storm Photos
The last time Bird and her Storm teammates took the court at KeyArena was the WNBA Finals.
The two players the Storm won't have Sunday are reserve wings Katie Smith and Belinda Snell. Smith is dealing with tendinitis in her left Achilles and Snell sprained her left ankle during the game against the Sparks. However, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler is optimistic about their prognosis going forward.
"I think Katie, for sure, is making great progress," said Agler. "Belinda, I questioned whether she'd be ready for Opening Day, but now I think she might be. She's made some pretty good progress the last 24 hours."
Without them, Agler anticipates using bigger lineups similar to the one that started the game against Los Angeles. Then, Swin Cash played shooting guard and Camille Little shifted out to small forward. That will allow Agler to use a relatively normal rotation made up primarily of the seven returning players on the roster - the starters and backup posts Le'coe Willingham and Ashley Robinson.
The one newcomer Agler anticipates using early in the game is second-round pick Ify Ibekwe, who has impressed the coaching staff during practices.
"I think she's shown something through training camp that we're getting close to saying she's somebody we should work with and give some time to," explained Agler.
Agler plans to use the other three newcomers on the roster "when we get a chance." All of the younger players are trying to show enough to merit a spot on the Storm's final 11-player roster, which must be set next week. Because Snell and Smith are not likely to be out for an extended period, Agler doesn't expect their injuries to have any impact on the final roster.
The Shock comes to town with a pair of former Storm players new to their roster - guard Betty Lennox and forward Sheryl Swoopes. In addition to the two veterans, Tulsa added first-round picks Elizabeth Cambage and Kayla Pedersen in the first round of the April WNBA Draft. The 6-8 Cambage became the Australian player taken highest in the draft since the Storm made Lauren Jackson the top overall pick in 2001.
Sunday's game will mark the first Storm broadcast on new radio home 1090 KPTK AM. However, LiveAccess will not be available and no radio broadcast will be available online. StormBasketball.com will have blog coverage with Live from Press Row.
Because of this weekend's Folklife Festival, the East Box Office will be closed for Sunday's games. All ticket sales and will call will be handled at the West Box Office, near the Storm Team Shop. Fans are encouraged to arrive early. For more on getting to the game and what to expect at KeyArena, visit our updated Game Day Guide.