Resurgent Storm gets another shot at Sparks
Sue Bird gets ball-handling help and it spurs team's winning stretch
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm @ Los Angeles,
7 p.m., ESPN2
It could go down as the best move Storm coach Brian Agler made.
Having All-Star point guard Sue Bird switch to shooting guard on some possessions as Tanisha Wright handles the offense has helped the Storm rebound from a 1-7 start with a 6-1 mark in its past seven games. Wright broke down defenses in wins against San Antonio and Minnesota at home, and her assisting Bird has helped the Storm average 76 points on 46.6 percent shooting during the past seven games.
"Every season has its journey — this is this season's," Bird said before the team's winning stretch.
Seattle looks to keep its momentum when it travels to Los Angeles for the fourth of a five-game regular-season series on Saturday. The Sparks (11-6), who won the first three meetings, should see a different Storm (7-8) this time.
Agler still talks about the team's defense, which helps generate the team's offense. Earlier in the season, Seattle wasn't able to capitalize on turnovers and limited second-chance shot opportunities.
Bird is shooting 27.1 percent in losses this season and 55.2 percent in wins. By being freed of some of the ball-handling duties, she has begun making her open shots.
"You have to keep shooting," she said. "Eventually, it's going to come around. But I do think early on, a lot of us, there was a little uncertainty there. That definitely plays a role in not just shooting — everything. Now I think everyone is on the same page, and that helps."
Wright credits Bird for being patient as the players learned each other's tendencies. The Storm still needs to assimilate new signee Svetlana Abrosimova, who played for the 2010 championship team. She has appeared in two games.
Seattle remains fourth in the Western Conference standings, but is just 2 ½ games behind leader San Antonio (9-5) with four games left before the WNBA-wide break for the London Olympic Games.
Recently, the Storm has been closer to performing the way most thought they would at the start of the season.
"It will be interesting to see how we play now against L.A.," Storm center Ann Wauters said. "In the past couple of weeks, we've seen sometimes a different Storm. Sometimes we can be pretty good and then sometimes we're still as not as consistent as we want to be."
Wauters, who has averaged 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds against the Sparks, is doubtful to play. She did not practice this week due to a slight tear in her left Achilles suffered against New York.
Reserve center Ewelina Kobryn is day to day with a strained right hamstring, but she practiced Friday.