Things haven’t been easy for the Storm, but it’s not like MVP union of Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie has secured a WNBA championships either. The Sparks, loaded with Olympic talent, are still searching for a way to win their first title since 2002 in what is the final season of coach Michael Cooper and Leslie (pictured right by the WNBA).
Cooper will coach the USC women’s team this season while Leslie is retiring, hinting at entering broadcasting in recent interviews. She hasn’t been quiet about wanting to leave on top, however, so the first-round series is going to be another battle.
This is the fourth time Seattle has faced LA in round one of the postseason. The Storm is 2-6 against the Sparks all-time in the playoffs.
While Los Angeles has been healthy since late July, the Storm is just now returning PG Sue Bird (sore neck), SG Tanisha Wright (Achilles tendinitis), and F Katie Gearlds (knee) to the lineup. Joined by All-Star MVP Swin Cash, who needed to attend a family funeral last week, all practiced full-on Monday and will again this afternoon.
Gearlds, a reserve, is the only one questionable to really play Wednesday since she hasn’t been part of the rotation since Aug. 6. Two-time MVP Lauren Jackson is out for the series with two stress fractures in her lower back.
“I’m concerned about our timing,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “Swin and Sue have been away from the team for a while. And it’s hard to say what Katie will really be able to do. Lauren is going to need some downtime. In a week, she’ll be re-checked, but she’s not all of a sudden going to be healed.”
Regardless, players are looking forward to the matchup.
“We’re just trying to get past the first round,” guard Shannon Johnson said. “We’re not worried about what happened in the past.”