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Coach Lin Dunn does not have an easy two weeks ahead of her. She has to cut the preseason roster down to 11 spots by May 24th (she can have 2 players on the Injured List, but only if they are actually injured. If they aren't, the league will cut them from the roster). According to the roster sheet passed out before today's Open Practice gets under way, the Storm currently have 19 players on the team. After watching 14 of these players in action (3 are still overseas, LJ is back but jetlagged into a stupor, and Crystal Givens is injured), I don't envy her at all.

The New Faces

Paying attention to the new faces since I figure I am aware enough of the returning players (not true as it turns out), here are some impressions (in alphabetical order):

Adia Barnes - A small forward who can play solid defense and is willing to shoot when she is open. She is quiet, but stuck to anyone she was guarding like hair extensions on the Diva. She reminded a few of us of Katy Steding, only more aggressive.

Lucienne Berthieu - Today is her graduation at Old Dominion and she is here playing hard for a spot on the team. I know that whether Sue Bird should go to her graduation and miss a preseason game has been hotly debated (most people think she should go). It is telling that Lucienne chose to stay in Seattle today. The battle for the center/forward postition is tight and she may have decided that she couldn't miss any time.She is big and can hit from outside. She didn't look as sharp as Takeisha Lewis, but I think she outplayed our other posts.

Sue Bird - She has to feel like she has a target on her. Sue may be one of the 3 players who have a guaranteed spot on the team (Coach Dunn keeps saying that 3 are already in, but hasn't said which 3), but she is playing like she has to earn everything. On the other side, all the other veteran guards are taking it to her with a vengence. She and Michelle Marciniak are going at each other with much more than game-speed intensity. If Sue ends up being the Storm's starting point guard, she will have to win it - it won't be handed to her.

Crystal Givens - Crystal is injured and spent the practice on the far side talking to LJ and doing some light dribbling drills. She visibly limped a few times. I don't what the extent of her injury is, but with as stacked as this team is now, it doesn't look good for her.

Takeisha Lewis - If we had to genetically engineer the perfect post player to compliment Lauren, an intimidating rebounding machine who could go hard to the basket and hit from the perimeter too, we would be lucky to come close to Takeisha Lewis. I want to see Takeisha in our line-up. She impressed me (and a lot of other people) with her physical play and her sweet shooting touch. Coach Dunn calls her a "diamond in the rough" later on during the pancake breakfast, so I'm pretty sure that Takeisha has an inside line. I will be shocked if she gets cut.

Danielle McCulley - is still not here. Bad news for making the roster with as deep as this group is. Coach Dunn said that Danielle played for her on the ABL Portland Power. Memories may be enough to get you invited to training camp, but I won't bet on a roster spot.

Elizabeth Pickney - Signed only a couple of days ago, this may be the first time she plays with the rest of the team. Elizabeth looks a little lost at times and often finds herself in the wrong position during play run-throughs. I have to think that Coach is giving her some slack until she gets up to speed, but May 24 will be here soon.

Felicia Ragland - Damn. This woman can shoot the ball from just about anyplace on the floor, off-balance, on the run, under the basket, you name it. I didn't pay much attention to her defense, but her offense alone may be enough to get her on the team. I'm not familiar with her career at Oregon State (she won just about every Pac-10 honor there is according to the Media Guide), but she seems like she could be one of those quiet assassins that reap the benefits of having an aggressive point guard. She can spot up or cut to the basket and "cha-ching."

Beth Record - On the surface, Beth didn't have an outstanding practice today. Most of us were too busy watching the UCONN/UT matchups or getting all warm and fuzzy thinking about the possibilities our new post players present to notice how complete a game Beth brings. Coach Dunn made a comment about her hitting 99 free throws in a row earlier this week. Solid on defense, solid on offense - Record is one of those all-around players that Coach Dunn is always talking about. She may not the marquee player, but she will make the marquee player look better.

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