It’s hard to argue with playing any of the Storm’s starting five heavy minutes. Glance over their stats this season and they are an impressive bunch. But they could still use a break to make to the Storm’s long-term goals.
And that’s past the opening round of the postseason, maybe even a championship.
When you look that far ahead and how top teams like Indiana (19-5) and Phoenix (18-8) are able to blend their bench into the rotation effortlessly to stay somewhat rested and on top, you start to wonder about the Storm (14-11). Especially when Seattle starts to make mental errors at the end of games that keep them from winning or G Sue Bird shoots 5 of 21 from three-point range in her past five games.
I’ve asked coach Brian Agler and the players several times about fatigue. Bird and F Swin Cash have admitted to being somewhat tired, notably during the stretch of four out five games that went into overtime. But Cash in particular said she trains to play 40 minutes.
“No player wants to come off the court,” she said.
That’s where Agler and his staff come in, however. It’s interesting. When F Camille Little gets into foul trouble, which she has been in the past five of the past seven games, Agler uses his bench effectively. When she’s not, he tends to only play six.
Agler seems to have a better hold on the backcourt rotation and runs everything through Jackson (who wouldn’t?). Posts Janell Burse, Ashley Walker, and Suzy Batkovic-Brown stay ready to contribute, normally making plays within the system to make an impact when played. Yet, it seems they could be used more effectively to keep Jackson from getting banged up – like her current back injury – or prevent Little from racking up fouls.
Especially since when signed, Agler said all three reserves would play “big roles.”
But there isn’t a problem with morale, outside a collective frustration at not winning. Many have said it’s the best team they’ve been a part of in the WNBA, Bird and Cash stretching that feeling back to last summer. Plus, there’s no dissention with Agler’s offensive system or coaching style, which has eased to less practices.
“We’re getting to the point in the year where you can’t just do all of your practice on the floor,” he said. “You gotta do it through communication and watching film. We’re just staying with it.”