Women's Hoops Blog
Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"
June 7, 2007 12:52 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Well, the Storm is feeling the same thing most of you see when watching the 2007 version play - there's a chemistry problem. It's not off the court, the players enjoy being around each other, but on the court both Storm coach Anne Donovan and co-captain Sue Bird said there are issues.
"The biggest thing is our chemistry, working together on the floor, especially when things don't go well," Donovan said. "They need to really like bear down and figure it out together. That's going to come as we play more together."
The team played Sacramento (tonight's opponent) without Bird and co-captain Lauren Jackson in its final exhibition game in May and won. But the Monarchs were also without some of their players. Perimeter shooting was key, but Bird, Betty Lennox, Iziane Castro Marques, and Katie Gearlds are all struggling with their outside shot.
The players appear frustrated until practice concludes, including this morning's shoot around. Donovan pulled everyone in a huddle and questioned them, stating, "This is your job."
I think Donovan is also at fault for the chemistry problems. The practices are some of the hardest and longest in the league with a demand on perfect execution every time a drill is run. While understandable, I would have ran a mini-training camp with Jackson and Bird, too during the seven-day layoff. But the players are pros who deserve a break, especially considering the league's cramped schedule. Across the league I hear stories of coaches surprising players with a cancelled practice and a trip to the movies or mall. Donovan has had her players go bowing and to the mall in the past, but rarely is this in lieu of practice.
It'll be interesting to see what happens tonight in the televised game. It could be the start of an awful, downward slide for the team. Jackson is unavailable (illness) and Bird remained ambiguous with her left knee status, stating "shoot around was a good test to see where I was. It's not where I want it to be, but hopefully it's good enough to play. Not really a maybe, I would say yes, but you never really know with these things."
Donovan is still leaning toward Wendy Palmer to start in Jackson's place.