October 9, 2012 12:00 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I'll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won't be featured due to their quick return home. Here's a conversation with power forward Camille Little, who was the only player to start all 34 games. She was the Storm's second-leading scorer (11.3) and rebounder (5.1), not counting Lauren Jackson, who missed 25 regular-season games. Little attempted a career-high 33 three-pointers and shot a best 33.3 percent when attempting 20 or more in a season.
Q: You flew home first-class, is that the norm for you during the season?
Camille Little: Yeah, unless (Storm coach) Brian (Agler's) on the flight. He always gets the upgrades first because he's platinum. I'm close to platinum, but haven't got it yet. Delta just changed it to where if you use your miles, you keep your miles. You used to lose your status when you used your miles. Now you keep it, so I've accumulated more now. I think they just changed it two years ago. It's a big difference.
Q: You're going back to Shanghai this offseason, why is that?
Little: It's a combination. The experience was nice -- the team I was on, the location, the people, the organization, the length of the season. I mean, I play three months. The first game is the 27th of October and the last game is like in January. The playoffs start after that and that can't last but a couple of weeks. Compared to a six-month season, I played in Israel and you don't get done playing until April. There's no argument and the money is the same, if not more (in China). It's a no-brainer.
Q: It's not the same team as Australian Liz Cambage, right?
Little: No because it's only one foreigner on a team. A lot of teams don't have any foreigners at all.
Q: Going over there last season, it seemed you really worked on your three-point shot, will you continue to work on that or add something else?
Little: China is a good place to just expand. I have the green light to do whatever. When you play like that, it's probably the best when you have no worries. I can just shoot when I want and I can work on my offensive aggression. It helped me for sure this year.
October 8, 2012 12:00 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I'll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won't be featured due to their quick return home. Here's a conversation with shooting guard Tanisha Wright, who withstood knee injuries to average 7.9 points and 4.4 assists in 32 games this season. She's regarded as the heart of the team and its top defender.
Q: What are your offseason plans?
Tanisha Wright: I'm going to take some time off. Let my body rest and heal. I didn't have the healthiest season this year. It really effected me, so now it's time to let my body do the talking.
Q: Is it both knees?
Wright: It's mostly my left one. My right knee (was a problem) overseas and when I got back, it was mostly my left one. I hope (rest) is the situation. We'll see when I start working out again, whether it can handle it from the rest. I'm going to Charlotte and I'll probably be up at school (Penn State), too. I'm most comfortable (rehabbing) up at school, but since I live in Charlotte, I'll find somebody to do the rehab, physical training and that stuff, too. I'm not in a rush right now. My original plan was to go overseas. But with the way I'm feeling at the end of the season, I don't know how much I'm going to stick to that plan. Right now, I'm not stressing about anything. I'm just going to let it play out.
Q: You didn't play overseason after your rookie season in 2005, but is there a concern about staying in WNBA shape this time? Getting fat and happy?
Wright: I'm not too concerned. I didn't go overseas my first year, either, I went back to school my first year to finish my degree. My concern is when I do start back up, how my knee will handle it from taking the time off. Obviously I'll gradually get back into it. I may not do on-court, basketball stuff but I'll stay in the weight room, probably do more pool workouts. A lot of non weight-bearing activities to stay in shape, for sure. I'll probably take a month off. I won't get fat, but I truly will be happy.
Q: Do you feel confident in making it back healthy next season?
Wright: For sure. If I'm going to take the time off, I'll definitely be back. It'll just be a matter of what (happens) once the season starts. It's just the rigor of the seasons and playing overseas that does it. It's a lot of wear and tear and sometimes you need to take a break and relax. I'll definitely be back. It's just a matter of once the season starts, how much I can take and handle.
October 7, 2012 12:00 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I'll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won't be featured due to their quick return home. Here's a conversation with co-captain Lauren Jackson, who missed 25 WNBA games due to preparing for the London Olympics with her Australian national team and suffering from a re-occurring hamstring injury.
Q: What's your plan injury-wise when you return home?
Lauren Jackson: I'm going to go home and get rehab on my back and stuff and yeah, get better. In Australia, because I play in Canberra where the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) is, they have a history of getting me right. Of getting my body right because it's just a focus on core and everything like that. When I go overseas to Europe, that's not the focus even though it should be. I feel pretty confident that it'll be good.
Q: And you feel confident you'll be back next season? You are under contract.
Q: Over the last few years, how have you felt about being surrounded by older veterans even as you age?
Jackson: This year's weird. To be honest. It still doesn't feel like it happened at the moment. Obviously we just played and we trained a little bit, but I didn't really spend any time with anyone. It was sort of come in and get ready to play. I didn't really get to hang out or anything. But it was good. Tina (Thompson) has got so much experience. I played with Katie (Smith) last year and she's very intense, she's good. Obviously it was different without Swin (Cash) and Ash (Robinson) in there. But that's just the evolution of sport.
October 6, 2012 12:00 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I'll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won't be featured due to their quick return home. Here's a conversation with co-captain Sue Bird, who finished the regular-season leading the team in points (12.2) and assists (5.3).
Q: Dropping any bombs this offseason? Last year you let it be known you played the entire season with a hip labrum injury and needed surgery, do you need another procedure on the left hip?
Sue Bird: I'm having surgery Friday. (The Storm reported it was a successful procedure Friday morning and Bird has begun rehabilitation). This is literally like deja vu because it's the same exact thing, same exact place, almost the same exact timing. Then I'm going to go to my team (UMMC Ekaterinburg) overseas January 1. It's really pretty much the same, which is good. I know what to expect. I know how to get through it. And the best part is I know it's going to be successful. I'll never have to drop anymore bombs in regards to my hip. So, I'm very excited to put the hip stuff in the past because I've been dealing with it for a long time and this past month has been tough.
Q: In the past you said playing on it doesn't make the injury worse, right?
Bird: Yes and no. It's an interesting injury, I've come to learn that about it. It's basically 100 percent based on symptoms. So you have it -- you could have it -- and if you don't have symptoms, you're good. The minute it becomes symptomatic, that's when it becomes a problem. For me, my body is my job so I have to take care of it. The good thing about having this last year is that I have MRI's to go back on. So the doctor (Dr. Marc J. Philippon) took a look at my most recent MRI and said, 'Yeah, there's some progression there. It's gotten a little worse.' When you hear that, you realize you need to nip it in the bud.
Q: How is the rehab?
Bird: The rehab (last year) really wasn't that bad. I don't know if this is because I've had other surgeries, I mean the ACL rehab is very difficult. So, I compared it in my own little head. My rehab, you just take it step by step and nothing was too painful. It's just about hitting each milestone as you go and before you know it you're back on the court. It wasn't a painful thing and I'm hoping that'll be the same this time.
October 5, 2012 2:30 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I'll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won't be featured due to their quick return home. We'll start with a copy of Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler's exit interview Wednesday conducted by the team due to my travel home from Minnesota.
Q: Was the first-round playoff series against Minnesota what you envisioned when you put together this roster?
Brian Agler: Well, yes. We finally had a chance to get together here the last couple weeks and had everybody on the court, got a couple practices in so we did get a chance to see a little bit about what we thought we would have as a team this year. Obviously, we knew Lauren (Jackson) wouldn't be back until the middle of August but we really showed some great signs and I thought we played great basketball down the stretch of the season.
Q: Is it tough to have to test yourself against a team like Minnesota with their level of competition?
Agler: Well, I think it's probably the best way to get tested. They've proven to be the best team in the league this year at this point anyway with their overall record during the regular season and we felt like all those games could have gone either way and you know, we're proud of our efforts, we're disappointed in the outcome and we're going to study this and look at our team and see how we can improve.
Q: What's the health of some of the players, including if any need surgery?
Agler: We have probably two or three that will (need to take care of some things). We don't know details yet, the timing of those things but I'm sure we'll have people that will have some surgery or have some major rehab that they have to go through before they can continue to play again and whether it's going to Europe or overseas or even back here next year.
October 4, 2012 6:45 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
You know about Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler's blips. One could be the decision to call a timeout with 3.3 seconds left of Seattle's Western Conference semi-finals series against Minnesota on Tuesday. The Storm was down one and on a fast break when Agler stepped in to use his final timeout of the game.
The other critique Agler has heard is his knack for signing veterans in their twilight. G Katie Smith is a keeper and F Tina Thompson had her moments before injury. But Yolanda Griffith, Sheryl Swoopes, and Shannon Johnson didn't work.
Is it enough to vote him out if you had the power? Or would you pick one of the GMs from Seattle's other struggling teams? Vote below.
October 3, 2012 2:00 AM
Posted by Jayda Evans
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson went immediately to the training table after her team's 73-72 Game 3 Western Conference semi-final loss at Target Center on Tuesday. She received a cortisone injection to relieve a hamstring injury during the WNBA season. But after the game against Minnesota, a distraught Jackson said she may need to undergo surgery for other ailments.
"I've got to go home and get checked out," said Jackson of returning to her native Australia. She's expected to play for the Canberra Capitals this offseason. "I've got my hamstring and my back and stuff and Achilles. So I've got to go get some stuff figured out.
"The thing is, in Australia, I've got the best people around me to really help me get back to where I was in 2010. That's a bonus for me. It's just one of those things where I've got to make sure everything is right before I keep going."
In 2010, Jackson won the regular-season and postseason WNBA MVP awards. She averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in 32 games. Jackson has only played one full WNBA season (2005) in her 12-year career.
The 6 feet 6 center needed left hip flexor surgery in 2011, missing 20 games as she rehabilitated the injury. She finished rehabilitation in Spain, helping her team win a EuroLeague title. Jackson went on to train and play in the London Olympic games for the Opals, winning a bronze medal. But she suffered an ankle injury before the Games.
October 2, 2012 5:49 PM
Posted by Jayda Evans
SEASON OVER: For the seventh time in the past nine consecutive playoff appearances, the Storm made a first-round exit. Brunson said the game felt like Western Conference Final as it took her defense on Jackson to prevent a possible game-winning 11-foot turnaround jumper with 1.2 seconds remaining in the game. Lynx won 73-72 at Target Center. Minnesota (2-1) advances to play Los Angeles in the best-of-three Western Conference finals at home on Thursday. Seattle returns to its home on Wednesday, holding exit interviews on Thursday. Jackson made a three-pointer to send her team into overtime in Game 2 on Sunday at KeyArena, eventually winning in double-overtime. She finished the series 6-for-19 from the field, but couldn't pull a miracle twice. The Storm was in a scramble before the play. Down one after a Bird three-pointer and needing a defensive stop, the Storm got one in Little forcing Whalen into a missed 7-footer. Jackson collected the rebound, tumbling over Wright. In transition, Smith didn't use the Storm's final timeout as she crossed half-court with about five seconds remaining. Agler stepped in and called one with 3.3 on the clock. A play was designed for Jackson inside. But Bird, after bumping into Jackson in the paint, was open on the wing. With time ticking Smith in-bounded the ball to Jackson. It missed and the season is over. "We should have either called timeout immediately or we should have probably played in transition," said Bird, who was 7 for 18 from the field for a team-high 19 points. "It's hard in the heat of the moment. It's loud. We just weren't on same page and it's unfortunate we put ourselves in a situation where we had to find a shot with 3.3 seconds. It could have played out differently. With that being said, we got a pretty decent look, it just didn't go in...The way the play unfolded, I think Katie felt she was running out of time and saw Lauren. I almost ran into Lauren as I was going to the corner. Either shot we would have gotten between Lauren and myself would have been a good look. I think our mistake came -- and that's all of us -- is we weren't on the same page. That's what's most disappointing. It's very unlike us...What's the point in dribbling up and calling a timeout? It just waste time that at that point we needed." It's hard to nitpick the game much further. Augustus (19 points) was 6-for-8 from the field in the second half and still the Lynx only won by one. Whalen again struggled in leading her team, getting tagged for fouls early that took her out of the game and shooting 2-for-9 overall. And still the defending champion Lynx only inched ahead of the Storm to the conference finals. Wauters said the reality of the loss hadn't sunk in. The team started the season 1-7, dealt with numerous injuries and player absences and still it even had a chance. "It's unfortunate that we didn't have this team at the beginning of the year," said Bird of a regular-season that finished at 16-18. "If this is what we look like? I don't know, a couple weeks all together, imagine what it could have been like. Now, obviously, you never know."
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Post-game videos of Kristi Kingma and Aminah Williams; NCAA, WNBA notes