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Snell's Skills Could Help Storm

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Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | May 19, 2011


During Thursday's practice, the Seattle Storm got a preview of what the team hopes Belinda Snell can provide this season. Immediately after subbing into the Storm's "black" unit - made up of the seven returning Storm players and newly added veterans Snell and Katie Smith - she worked free to knock down a pair of three-pointers.

Snell, signed by the Storm as a free agent in February, is a shooter by trade. She's made as many as 42 three-pointers in a WNBA season (in 2009, with San Antonio), meaning opponents must respect her from beyond the arc. That's one of several traits that drew the Storm to Snell.

 Belinda Snell celebrates.
Snell was a key player off the bench for the Phoenix Mercury's 2007 championship team.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images

"She's tough," said Storm star Lauren Jackson, offering a scouting report of her friend. "She's an Aussie. She's a country girl like myself, so she's got a bit of spit and vinegar in her. She can shoot. She's just a really nice person."

Jackson and Snell first teamed up for the Australian Institute of Sport as teenagers, leading the team to an unprecedented WNBL championship in 1998-99. That was actually the last time they played together in a league, though Snell and Jackson have both been fixtures in the starting lineup for the Opals National Team, building chemistry that should carry over in Seattle.

The Storm's history of embracing Australian players was attractive to Snell. Besides Jackson, the Storm has had six other Aussies on the roster in franchise history.

"A lot of Australians have come here in the past and said all good things about the team and the city," said Snell. "Tully (Bevilaqua) and Sandy (Brondello) really enjoyed playing there. It's great to continue the Australian tradition by playing here."

Mostly, Snell was looking for an opportunity after the San Antonio Silver Stars unexpectedly cut her to make room for Chamique Holdsclaw two games into the 2010 season. Snell went from starter and key player (she averaged 18.4 minutes for the playoff-bound Silver Stars in 2009) to out of the league.

With the Storm, Snell has the chance to play a rotation role. Smith will be Agler's first perimeter substitution off the bench, but there's room for another wing to see regular action. Last year, rookie Jana Veselá grew into that role over the course of the season. Agler believes Snell has an advantage over Veselá in that regard because she is already familiar with the WNBA. Snell still has some work to go in mastering the nuances of the Storm's system, but the minutes are there for her to claim.

"It's been good so far," Snell said of picking things up during her first week of training camp. "I've just been learning and getting to know a lot of them. It's a lot of learning. I'm trying to do my best and do whatever is needed for the team."

In addition to shooting, Snell brings championship experience to Seattle. She spent her first three WNBA seasons with the Phoenix Mercury and backed up Diana Taurasi on the 2007 Mercury team that won the WNBA title, beating the Storm along the way. Snell has also won a pair of Olympic silver medals and the 2006 FIBA World Championship with her National Team.

To that pile of hardware, she added two more trophies this spring. Snell's Halcon Avenida Salamanca team first beat Sue Bird and Sparta&K Moscow Region for the Euroleague Championship and title of best team on the continent. Last month, Avenida completed the double by beating Ros Casares Valencia for the Spanish title with Snell as a starter.

"It was just an amazing feeling and so fantastic for all the supporters there in Salamanca," recalled Snell. "They're very passionate. It was an amazing experience and something I'll never forget, winning the Euroleague. Then beating Valencia as well in the Spanish League, that was a huge deal for the club and for me personally, because I played for Valencia the year before. It was a successful season and a great time.

"It's amazing to have been all over the world and win the championships. It would be awesome to be a part of something special here."

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