Storm knows Taurasi's team still dangerous
The Storm expects Phoenix star Diana Taurasi to rebound with her team facing elimination.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm @ Phoenix, noon
PHOENIX — They call them chips. And no one stacks them better than Diana Taurasi.
The Phoenix guard has won so many championships — or chips — that Seattle guard Svetlana Abrosimova playfully wondered if it was a requirement to play Taurasi for the right to get one.
"For the last seven years, especially playing in Europe, it was, 'We have to beat Diana Taurasi,' " said Abrosimova. "For me, the championship is associated with her. You have to beat her to become the champion."
Taurasi's team faces possible elimination in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals after she had a miserable opener in the best-of-three series against Seattle, but the Storm knows that history shows she should play much better in Sunday's game in Phoenix.
"I remember last year watching her in the playoffs, I want to say the San Antonio series," said Storm guard Sue Bird of her former teammate at Connecticut and in Russia. "Early on, she didn't play her best. The next time she stepped on the court, she hit her first seven shots — four three-pointers. That's what I'm expecting (Sunday).
"We're going to try to make it as tough as possible, but sometimes, though, there's nothing you can do, literally. Playing with her, most recently in Russia, I've seen her hit some shots that have no business going in. But that's just her."
As the sellout crowd at KeyArena booed Taurasi relentlessly through her 2-of-15 shooting in a Game 1 loss, the league's three-time leading scorer just smiled. She told reporters afterward that she simply missed open looks and that Sunday they'd drop.
Phoenix coach Corey Gaines agreed. He made note of the defending champion Mercury's first title run in 2007. Then, Taurasi was 3 of 8 for 10 points in Game 1, then burst to an 11-of-20 showing for 30 points in a Game 2 win against Detroit.
After all, there was a chip on the line.
Her first was as a California teen in AAU ball when her team traveled to Florida for the national title. Taurasi and teammates celebrated by jumping in the Cocoa Beach waters with their uniforms on. Since then, she has won three NCAA championships, four EuroLeague titles, two Russian league cups, and two Olympic gold medals.
Oh, and two WNBA championships, including Finals MVP.
"If you don't win a championship, it all doesn't matter," said Taurasi, 28. "It's funny, cause I've been at home and ESPN has done things on the 'Best Sports Teams' and my teams are on them. I think I've just been fortunate to play on some great teams. And when you get older, you start to appreciate what you've done a little bit more."
The Storm is prepared for the Mercury to alter its schemes and Seattle coach Brian Agler wants his players to play tighter defense on Taurasi, to not give her the same open looks she saw in Game 1.
But Phoenix also has others weapons. Star forwards Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree are threats that Taurasi could easily find in a jam. Dupree had a second consecutive playoff double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1 while Taylor was 4 for 4 from three-point range.
"We can't let her get into a comfort zone," Storm guard Tanisha Wright said of Taurasi. "But they're a full-packaged team. You don't expect it to just be Diana and that's it. They have Penny, they have Candice, they have Tan (Smith) and they have (DeWanna) Bonner, a sixth woman coming off the bench. We're definitely not just keying in on one person. We're going to play our normal defense and take it from there."
And if Taurasi goes off?
"When the lights go on and there's something at stake, (Taurasi) just plays her best and is consistent with it. That's what makes her so dangerous," Bird said. "But there are four other people on the floor. If she gets 40 and we still win, what are you going to do? That's the challenge in our locker room — trying to guard them."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(Courtesy of LeMay — America's Car Museum) New LeMay exhibit to look at NASCAR LeMay — America's Car Museum in Tacoma will look at the wil...
Post a comment