Often we’re reminded that things are different up here in the Pacific Northwest. Nothing makes that notion more poignant than today.
As the WNBA searches for a chipper way to announce the real end of another charter franchise, unable to secure new ownership in the Bay Area to sustain 13 teams, the Storm finds solid ground.
Seattle’s ownership group finally finalized a five-year deal with Seattle Pacific University for the use of Royal Brougham Pavilion as its practice facility. The agreement keeps the Storm’s nook in the Queen Anne area with home offices in Interbay and the home court at KeyArena.
Moving to a college campus will be different. But given that most of the players live in the area and there’s good access to the new facility from a main street, it’s not going to feel like a step down. Then again, the Storm is probably happy it simply has another season.
Owners had their meetings last week in New York and I’ll talk to the Storm group this week, but no concrete news was made about Sacramento. Just that the use of instant replay was expanded for 2010.
Houston, winner of the WNBA’s first four championships, was the last team to disband and that announcement happened the opening week of December 2008.
A decision to move free agency back to January 2010 was made, which could mean the WNBA could make an official announcement about the Bay Area dream prior to the holidays (Hanukkah begins at sundown on Friday, though). Ticket holders are already scheduled to meet with former staff on Wednesday.
A dispersal draft would have to be held before free agency opens and since rosters will remain limited to 11 players and three Monarchs players are unrestricted free agents, don’t expect the Storm to have a pick. Seattle will pick 10th in the college/international draft in April.
“You have to plan for every scenario,” said Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s also director of player personnel. “With or without Sacramento, you add a team like Detroit — now Tulsa — into the Western conference. That impacts us. If Sacramento does not relocate and we end up with a six-team conference, we’ll have to play teams five times. Depending on who that is really impact us.”
THE SMITH FACTOR: Storm fans know too well how good a player is former Detroit guard Katie Smith. Since she announced she won’t relocate with the franchise to Tulsa, the questioned popped up if Seattle was on the list. Again, free agency isn’t open, but there’s a tie with Agler, her former coach at Minnesota and in the defunct ABL.
“She’s just a great person, great leader and proven she’s one of the best all-time players to ever play the game,” said Agler of the Olympian, who could replace Shannon Johnson as PG Sue Bird’s backup on the Storm roster. “What we do and how we advance, we’re still in discussions about that with our staff. We want to get better. If you look at our core group — especially with Lauren [Jackson], Sue, and Swin [Cash], they are right now in the prime of their career. They want to have playoff-quality teams and have a chance to really be successful at a high level. So, we want that for them and for us. This league is only getting better.”
Hmmm. We’ll get back to this.
MAKING THE JUMP: As stated elsewhere, I’d rather NBA commissioner David Stern make comments about the state of the WNBA. But instead he offered a week’s worth of speculation on whether a woman will play with the boys.
Stern thinks 10 years. LeBron James thinks never. And I’m reminded of an interview with former Sonic Kevin Durant, who said Jackson is ready now (scroll down to Jan. 14 on link). Not to be left out, Nancy Lieberman thinks a woman will coach in the NBA soon.
If my math is correct, this ideal “woman” is being groomed on some junior high court now. Or possibly at the Nike NW Invitational, needing a couple of years overseas play with men to break into the NBA. Stay tuned, according to Stern.
GOING PLACES?: Had to chuckle at a post that mentioned Washington State coach June Daugherty taking the team places it hadn’t been before. The Cougars are entertaining, but they’re tied for ninth in Pac-10 standings. With Washington.
The Huskies (3-4) split on the road in Florida.
Gonzaga, however, is getting more serious looks for national polls behind PG Courtney Vandersloot, who leads the nation in assists (10.2). The Zags are 7-2.
GILLOM FRONT: Still hearing that Minnesota coach Jen Gillom is going to be named to the open position in Los Angeles. The move would snub former Monarchs coach John Whisenant, who isn’t expected to be named coach of the Lynx, either.
Gillom didn’t renew her contract with Minnesota, but Sparks GM Penny Toler is mum about the organization’s plans. A source said an announcement would be made soon, but the Sparks would only release a regurgitated statement.
“We are interested in several candidates. Our timeline has been and still is to find the best head coach for our program and we’re hoping to hire and announce by early January,” the statement for Toler read.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: Via Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) “My daughter’s KINDERGARTEN classmate told her that there is no Santa Claus. Will Santa still come if I pop that kid in the nose?”
That holiday joy was spread on Nov. 30 at 7:53 pm.
POW: Oregon sophomore Amanda Johnson was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week, averaging 21.0 points and 9.7 rebounds over three games last week for the 8-1 Ducks.