The Storm completed Day 4 of training camp with coach Brian Agler circling his team around him to remind them to “Be ready!” during Thursday’s exhibition opener against Sacramento at KeyArena. Only veteran Sue Bird will not play and Agler said his staff is confident they can dwindle the roster by Friday. Cuts may come as early as Thursday night.
The ominous decision made camp more intense. Players have been whipped through a lot of offensive and defensive learning. Of the invitees, Bird said she likes the play of PG A’Quonesia Franklin and G/F La’Tangela Atkinson. Atkinson really stands out with her slashing and rebounding. She’s also been consistent with the outside shot.
“I liked her game last year in Sacramento,” Bird said of Franklin. “She’s very steady-Eddie. She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, she’ll hit the open shot, she runs the team and you need a player like that.
“La’Tangela has a skill-set. She plays defense, she gets to the rim and she creates. Not many people are good at that. You’ll see her in here making spin moves and dropping it off. She’s a very talented player.”
Bubble players have to be third-round draft pick Mara Freshour and returnee Kimberly Beck. Media is only allowed to see 30 minutes of practice, but both aren’t on the court much during that timeframe and the other perimeter players seem to offer more. We’ll see what actually happens.
Agler said versatility, big-picture needs, team chemistry, and low salaries will be factors in who nabs the final roster spot.
“Obviously, that last spot could be somebody who’s not even here right now,” he said. “Salary definitely plays a factor. We don’t have max-dollars left.”
Those monies went to players like F Swin Cash and G Tanisha Wright, who are still expected this week at camp. Cash had a flight complication, so she’ll arrive on Thursday and should attend the 7 p.m. game. Wright, who re-signed this offseason, arrives Saturday night and should practice Sunday.
Against the Monarchs, Agler expects to start PG Shannon Johnson, G Katie Gearlds (who’s improved), F Camille Little and posts Ashley Robinson and Janell Burse. Johnson will only play in the opening half while Burse will see limited minutes. The coaching staff hasn’t worked out a rotation for the remainder, but many combination and players at various positions will be used.
If the game is close, “We’ll play to win, of course,” Agler said.
The Storm will know plenty about Sacramento by the time the June 6 season-opener rolls around. Seattle plays them and Phoenix in a closed-door exhibition in Las Vegas next week. The Monarchs owners invited Seattle, putting the team up at their hotel, The Palms.
The Monarchs and Storm play a home-and-away set to begin the regular season.
“I’m still shaking my head about the schedule a little bit,” Agler said. “It is what it is. What are we going to do about it? Our focus is more on ourselves than Sacramento. Trying to get better.”