The season ended on an unexpected high note because of the play of G-F La’Tangela Atkinson (pictured right by the Storm). As she did during training camp, the former North Carolina star jumped into Storm fan’s hearts with her athleticism — sacrificing bony limb for rebounds and picking off passes for steals. Had she made a few more shots in her two games back with the Storm, Seattle might be chanting M-V-P.
Well, folks are at least calling for her to stay on the roster. But that’s not possible. F Swin Cash, who missed the final two games to attend her grandmother’s funeral in Pennsylvania, is back with the team in Los Angeles. And since PG Sue Bird is expected to return from a sore neck, suffered in Minnesota, the Storm is over the minimum required for the WNBA’s hardship rule in adding additional players.
Atkinson and PG A’Quonesia Franklin were released following the win against San Antonio on Saturday.
“I’m happy I got the opportunity to come back,” Atkinson said. “With me leaving, that means the players are healthy and that’s what I want.”
Had the WNBA not cut rosters to a maximum 11 this season, both may have been on the team. They were the last cuts made by Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s also director of player personnel. But it may not be the end of Atkinson, anyway.
Agler said she did enough to earn another invite to Storm training camp in 2010. The coach told both players things they need to improve to have a strong chance at making the roster, which is still expected to be 11 players next year.
“La’Tangela was a blessing in disguise,” Agler said after she totaled 10 rebounds and six steals, starting in place of G Tanisha Wright (Achilles tendinitis) against the Silver Stars.
Along with having training camp experience with the Storm, knowing fellow UNC star Camille Little and South Carolina product Shannon Johnson, Atkinson said keeping up with the WNBA helped her play.
“I’d TiVo it if I wasn’t home,” she said of viewing games. “I’d analyze it like I’m a coach. I have friends on every team, so I’d learn from their mistakes to make me better.”
Who knows if it’ll help usurp one of the mainstays on the Storm bench, but it certainly builds confidence to try. You’ll just have to wait a year to see if you should start creating any Atkinson cheers.