Bishop Steals Show in Scrimmage
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | May 10, 2010
In the span of nearly two weeks between scrimmages against the Chinese National Team, the Seattle Storm has added four starters and several other veterans back to the lineup. The most important addition as the teams played Monday at the Storm's practice gym in the Royal Brougham Pavilion, however, was a 21-year-old rookie. Australian center Abby Bishop was the standout of the scrimmage, scoring 24 points over the last four "quarters" of a 113-83 Storm victory that featured six 10-minute periods.
"I think I just went on a little bit of a streak and I got some confidence, I guess," Bishop said after the scrimmage. "My legs started taking over. I was shooting the ball when I was open, which is what you're supposed to do. So I was feeling confident. Definitely good hit-out [scrimmage] today."
It was a short day for Storm stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, who did not play after the first quarter, and fellow starters Swin Cash, Camille Little and Tanisha Wright also saw limited action. That give Head Coach Brian Agler plenty of time to evaluate the team's other nine healthy players, many of whom are battling for spots before final rosters are due on Friday.
The second unit helped the Storm extend its lead, which was 10 points after two quarters, to 26 at the end of a full regulation game and ultimately 30 points. With players rotating in and out to stay fresh and give Agler the chance to look at different combinations, scoring was balanced, with six players scoring at least five points during the last four quarters.
It was Bishop, however, who emerged as the Storm's go-to scorer, riddling the Chinese with a series of perimeter scores, including four three-pointers. Unofficially, she shot 8-of-10 from the field in that span.
For Bishop, the outing was the culmination of a strong first week of practice and exhibitions with the Storm.
"She's done real well," said Agler. "She's played well. And she's still real young - just 21 - so she's got a lot of upside."
"I think that I'm fitting in really well," said Bishop. "I'm as strong as pretty much all the other girls. Obviously, there's a few strong girls. Team-wise, I feel like I'm learning everything and the coach is happy with how I'm going. The girls are helping me fit in. I feel like I'm suiting this kind of basketball. I've got to just keep doing my thing. The team is picked this week, so fingers crossed that I've done the right things in the past week and impressed the coach."
Monday was the first day in a Storm practice jersey for Europeans Svetlana Abrosimova and Jana Veselá, who joined the team and were immediately thrown into a scrimmage. Abrosimova split time between the two wing positions, and could end up spending more time at shooting guard if the Storm ends up keeping just three guards on its final roster. Veselá, who played primarily at power forward, displayed the kind of instincts and skill for making little plays that have made her a coveted Euroleague contributor.
All the additions meant the Storm team was a very different squad than the one that faced the Chinese National Team on April 28 in Beaverton, Ore.
"Our team's changed a lot," said Agler. "We've had a couple more weeks of practice. We've got some of our veteran players here. That's impacted things. Even though Sue and Lauren didn't play very much today and Swin and Tanisha were limited too, they still impacted what happened. It was good to see some of the other people that improved in three weeks."
With a full complement of players now in camp, Agler views tomorrow's day off as a transition point.
"I told them before we played that today is the last day of training camp," he said. "Come Wednesday is when our season starts. We'll be close to being to the 11 (on the final roster) on Wednesday."
Those remaining decisions are not getting any easier for Agler.
"We've got a lot of people playing well," he said. "We didn't necessarily play real well yesterday [a 90-80 preseason loss at Tulsa], but we responded today. We've had some discussions and we liked what we saw today in terms of how we competed. We've got multiple people here who won't make this team who could be on our team - they're that good."
Agler wasn't offering any hints, but he did have an interesting response when asked about the importance of versatility as contrasted with specialists for the final players on the roster.
"You need versatile players," he noted, "because with an 11-person roster you have to have individuals who can play multiple positions. It does go into it. But we also have a core group of players that we have to balance out too. That will impact our decision-making. We have this set group - now what goes best with this set group?"
That question is something the Storm coaching staff will be debating - and making some decisions on - over the next couple of days.
Loree Moore underwent successful surgery on the torn meniscus in her left knee on Monday. Agler said the Storm will waive Moore, but she will be able to stay in Seattle and rehab with the team for up to eight weeks, which should be enough time for her to return to action.
"If she gets an opportunity to get back on the court and shows she can help us, then we're open," said Agler. "If it doesn't go that way, then unfortunately we'll have to move forward."
Wright did not start Sunday in Tulsa because it was her first day back with the team. To replace her, the Storm started a big lineup with Ashley Walker at small forward and Cash playing shooting guard. Wright still ended up playing 24 minutes and tied for game-high honors with 15 points.