Ashley Robinson, a former Storm fan favorite, returns with her new team
Ashley Robinson and her new team, the Washington Mystics (2-7), play here Sunday. The team arrived Thursday after a loss in Phoenix and Robinson has been on a whirlwind visit, meeting Storm fan's newborns, stopping by old jaunts and being given an intimate party at Bird's Queen Anne condo.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington @ Storm, 4 p.m.
Ashley Robinson's face beamed on the KeyArena jumbotron Friday and the crowd erupted, some standing and applauding in seeing the former Storm player back in Seattle.
Trying to listen to her coach during that second-half timeout against San Antonio, guard Sue Bird had to chuckle.
"Maybe I shouldn't say this, but Seattle fans, they have a reputation of being very kind to those that have played here and come back with (other) teams," Bird said. "A-Rob hated that. She'd say, 'Why are they cheering so loud for so-and-so?' Now she's that person."
Robinson and her new team, the Washington Mystics (2-7), play here Sunday. The team arrived Thursday after a loss in Phoenix and Robinson has been on a whirlwind visit, meeting Storm fans' newborns, stopping by old haunts and being given a party at Bird's Queen Anne condo.
It's expected treatment for a personable player who valued community service, likely surpassing Simone Edwards and Adia Barnes as a favorite among Storm diehards. Make that Storm Crazies, a moniker Robinson and former forward Swin Cash gave the fan base before being traded.
"One of my teammates, Monique Currie, said she hasn't seen me smile this much since I've been in D.C.," said Robinson of a conversation with the Mystics All-Star. "It feels like coming back home — my second home."
Robinson, a 6-foot-4 center, was traded to Washington in February by Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler in exchange for second-year forward Victoria Dunlap. The latter has averaged 5.6 minutes in five games, missing two due to concussions suffered in practice.
A member of the 2010 championship squad, Robinson played six seasons for the Storm, averaging numbers that wouldn't imply superstar status. A backup to three-time MVP Lauren Jackson, Robinson's best season was in 2011 when she averaged career highs in points (3.8) and rebounds (3.9), starting 13 games when Jackson underwent left hip surgery.
Agler traded the eight-year veteran, among other offseason moves, in a dual effort to begin the process to inject youth on the roster and clear cap space. Only three players remain from the Storm's recent title team, yet the roster remains among the oldest in the WNBA at an average of 29.
"Every move that we made this offseason in regards to players on last year's team was extremely hard," said Agler, whose team is on a three-game win streak after a 1-7 start. "You develop relationships with these people and it's not something where you wake up that morning and say, 'Let's do it' and it gets done. You have to take a lot of things in consideration, but it was a decision we felt we had to make. Not because we wanted to, but we felt like we needed to."
Robinson was initially hurt by the trade, but she landed in a comfortable environment. She has played with half the roster at some point in her international career and knew all but three of the players.
Robinson is in a similar playing position, however. Coach Trudi Lacey spoke of her leading the team in the paint when training camp opened, but Robinson now sees minimal court time playing behind former Tennessee teammate Michelle Snow. A 6-5 center, Snow is averaging 11.2 points and 8.4 boards in her past five games.
Robinson, 29, was pulled from the starting lineup after five games and didn't play in the Mystics' 80-77 loss on Wednesday.
"Work can suck sometimes," said Robinson, who's averaging 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds for Washington. "Right now, Snow is playing really good basketball and I haven't had a really good two weeks. ... Playing behind Lauren was a blessing because of the yo-yoing. I'm not worried. I'm more worried about us getting wins."
And it's that attitude that made Robinson endearing to Seattle fans.
"Overall, you just miss her," said Storm forward Camille Little, who remains a close friend.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans