Storm Prepares to Play Under the Lights
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | June 3, 2010
Seattle Storm Head Coach Brian Agler has prepared for many things in his gameplans, from hot scorers to exotic offenses and defenses. Still, weather is a new one. The Storm will deal with the elements on Saturday, playing outdoors under the lights in the Sunset Showdown against the Los Angeles Sparks at the Home Depot Tennis Center.
"When we had the opportunity to schedule it, (Storm CEO) Karen (Bryant) thought it was a good opportunity for us just because it's different," recalled Agler. "I texted Sue (Bird) and Lauren (Jackson) because they were overseas. They both thought it was a good idea, wanted to try it, so I said go on with it."
Saturday's game will be the second played outside in WNBA history. Agler remembered watching in 2008, when the Indiana Fever defeated the New York Liberty at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. The last two years, the Phoenix Suns have hosted preseason games at Indiana Wells Tennis Center in Southern California.
For most of the participants, however, this is a first - other than playing pickup on the playground, that is.
"It will be a unique experience, one I have never had," said Bird. "Your guess is as good as mind. I have no idea what to expect. I don't know what the weather is going to be like, don't know what the wind is going to be like. The one thing I will say is I played soccer for a long time and I was thinking back on those moments. The weather never really affected anything other than the wind."
Jackson actually has had an experience playing a competitive game outdoors with the Australian National Team against Brazil more than a decade ago.
"We flew to Rio de Janeiro for three days," Jackson recalled. "We played on Copacabana Beach in an outdoor stadium. I was like 16 years old. It was awesome. Sunscreen everywhere - couldn't catch the ball or anything. We got to go surfing after, so that was fun."
One big difference between the two games - Jackson played in Brazil during the middle of a hot day. This game will be played at sunset under the lights, so heat should not be a major concern. Other elements may be an issue.
"It's definitely going to be different from being in an enclosed stadium," said Jackson. "The wind and things like that are definitely going to be factors. Hopefully it doesn't rain."
To prepare, the Storm plans to visit the court at the Home Depot Tennis Center tomorrow night after flying in to L.A., getting a feel for the conditions at gametime. On Saturday morning, the team will hold its gameday shootaround to acclimate to the court and the temporary baskets. For the most part, though, it's business as usual.
"We're going to practice, prepare for L.A., go down there on Saturday morning and have our shootaround there and try to do the best we can," said Agler.
While there is uncertainty about the conditions, there is also excitement.
"I'm looking forward to it," Jackson said. "I think it's exciting for the WNBA. I think it will be a lot of fun."