get to the Furtado Center a little after the practice had
begun. There are about 50 fans seated around two sides of
the practice floor. There are actually two full courts in
the practice space with several baskets around the perimeter
of each. The team is doing passing drills as we come in. Kamila
and Alessandra are still absent. We had seen on the WNBA web
site that Amber Hall, Linda Miles and Robin Threatt-Elliott
were waived yesterday. What kind of effect does that have
on the remaining players? I think we see the results
more about that later.
runs the players through several different types of drills.
One of them seems hard to keep track of a rotating
3 person scrimmage where a fourth player on the side who would
come in after a made basket to replace one of the active players.
The losers at the end of the time had to run sprints. This
is always the carrot whoever loses a scrimmage, misses
free throws, whatever, has to run the floor. For instance,
the players start a free throw drill where they have to make
5 in a row to complete the drill. If they miss one, not only
do they have to start over, but they also get to run. Throughout
the practice, this drill is repeated several times, hit 3
in a row, hit 5 in a row, first to 5, etc. Everyone gets
to run sooner or later.
times, the guards split off from the forwards/centers and
each group does shot and approach drills 15 footers
and threes, layups and 10 footers constantly on the
move. All of the players are working hard. Coach Dunn is floating
between the groups giving direction. Coaches James and Kloppenburg
lead some of the split off groups, and give follow up good
cop advice after Coach Dunn lets one of the players
know when she has screwed up.
about 30 or 40 minutes, we realize that Lauren isnt
on the floor. She comes out later with the trainer and stays
on the sideline for the rest of the practice. They are working
on her right knee. Do we go ahead and start freaking out now?
of the team starts a scrimmage that goes a full 40 minutes.
Daniel, the conditioning coach, and two of the other staff
members act as refs. They do call some fouls (the players
arent holding back). When Semeka complains about one
call, Coach says (are you sitting down for this?), The
referee is always right. The players laugh about that
it is because they are vying for a limited number of roster
spots (having been acutely reminded of this by yesterdays
waivers), or because they are just this competitive, the players
are really going to it. They look better than they did against
Portland just two days earlier.
end of the practice, the players mingle with the fans to sign
autographs and answer questions. We talk to Lauren and find
out that the WNBA ball is smaller than she is used to. She
says that by the beginning of the season she will be firing.
We also ask her about whether the WNBA uniform is bothering
her since it is not a body-suit style like the standard Australian
uniform. She said that no, it isnt a problem. The practice
uniforms worn by the Australian teams are similar to the WNBA
uniform. We do notice, however, that she is wearing what appears
to be her Capitals uniform under her practice uniform. She
also assures us that the knee injury that kept her out of
the practice is nothing to worry about. This is the first
time we have been able to meet with LJ and we are both impressed
by her. She is very personable and soft-spoken, if not a little
put off at all the attention.
talk to Coach Dunn. She tells us that Kamila is expected in
on the 19th and will begin by walking through practices for
the first four or five so that she can get some rest after
her international play. We ask her about whether the players
get any real rest since most of them play overseas. She says
that it is a concern, but that all the teams have to deal
with it, so it isnt a huge disadvantage for the Storm.
Alessandra is expected at the end of the month.
is a little bitter that Hec Ed was renovated AFTER
she graduated, she says with a smile when we ask her about
playing there the other night. It was the first time she had
been back to the UW arena.
been a great event. It has given us a whole new appreciation
for how hard these players are working. They were scrambling
for loose balls, fighting for rebounds, and yelling when things
went wrong or right (especially Semeka). This is definitely
an event that we would recommend to anyone who is on the fence
about this game and these players. You will be a convert after
youve seen these players up close.