The Storm held its annual “Winter Warm-Up” on Saturday before the Washington-Washington State game for season-ticket holders who renewed. CEO Karen Bryant told the crowd the organization is at about an 85 percent renewal rate. About 150 attended the pregame event on one of UW’s auxiliary practice courts.
Co-owners Lisa Brummel and Dawn Trudeau, Bryant, and coach Brian Agler comprised the panel taking questions from the crowd. And of course the annual “When-will-Lauren-Jackson-sign?” query popped up. (She’s pictured right by AP)
“I’ll bet anyone if Lauren Jackson doesn’t re-sign, I’ll buy your season-tickets,” Agler said to a laughing audience. Then he quickly added if she does, the person taking the bet would have to take the entire team out to dinner at the restaurant of their choice.
“Any takers?” Agler prodded the crowd.
Crickets. Agler had already reiterated that Jackson gave a verbal agreement to play this summer and the only hold-up is a final review of her deal.
The session, where new director of player development/scouting coach Jenny Boucek was introduced, was informative in what the Storm has ahead for the team. Bryant wants more road games on television, so they’re being prudent about signing with a station, office staff was aggressive in ticket sales and Agler announced Ashley Robinson was given a training camp invite.
The center has yet to sign, but has stated repeatedly that she only wants to play in Seattle. With a post-heavy draft and most teams stocked at the position around the league, the Storm may remain Robinson’s best option, too.
Other team’s lack of need inside is why Agler, who’s also director of player personnel, is having trouble working any trades, according to sources. Seattle doesn’t have much to give and teams who have what he’d like, like Connecticut guard Erin Phillips, don’t need the Storm’s secondary frontline players.
“I’m not going to give her away,” said Sun coach Mike Thibault of Phillips, whose rights are owned by Connecticut. Thibault is in discussions with other teams, however.
As for Jackson, whose Australian team has advanced to the Grand Final, she’ll most likely re-sign after the WNBL season. For those who can’t wait, the Storm offered the warm-up to at least gather with fellow fans and start thinking about the WNBA season, again.
This also means pent-up anger at officials. The Pac-10 has had a lot of the same refs work games and Trudeau, the most vocal owner at games, had KeyArena’s back at the winter Board of Governors meetings.
She told the crowd that she asked WNBA brass what was going on to improve officiating. The response was that research showed the WNBA was on par with the MLB in terms of accuracy of calls and non-calls. And the WNBA officials rank higher than the NBA’s.
But in case you’re not buying that, Dee Kantner, supervisor of officials, is going to host another Officiating 101 course for season-ticket holders this summer.
“And you’re going to be nice,” Trudeau joked with the crowd.
Yeah, wanna bet?