I jumped on Darren Fessenden at the Seattle PI about the misuse of the term "true point guard" earlier this week. Check out his comment in today's article regarding veteran Storm center Janell Burse.
normal starter Janell Burse moving from her customary power forward position to center.It is clear to me now that Darren is just new to writing about women's basketball. Perhaps he knows basketball, but is just new to covering the women's game, the WNBA or maybe just new to covering the Storm. It was unfair of me to be so quick to judge.
I thought it might be of help to give a little Storm Primer to Darren, to help him through the season. Here goes...
2007 Seattle Storm Player/Coach Primer
Tanisha Wright (T) is a third year guard for the Storm. She was picked by the Storm in 2005 draft to shore up the backup shooting guard behind Betty Lennox. With the loss of Tully Bevilaqua and Sheri Sam to free agency in the 2005 offseason, Wright was asked to play some point guard and some small forward with mixed results. The Storm brought Francesca Zara over from Italy to shore up the point behind Sue Bird when it was clear that Wright was not ready for big minutes running the offense. She was quite strong starting in place of the injured Betty Lennox at the shooting guard slot to close out that season. She lost her confidence early last season and struggled for most of the year. Confusion for a newbie is understandable, she was one of two guards left in camp and Coach Donovan had her running the offense, besides, the WNBA only lists players as Guard, Forward or Center.
Janell Burse (JB) is the starting center for the Storm. She was received as part of a trade package including Sheri Sam from the Minnesota Lynx for Amanda Lassiter and the Storm's first round draft pick (which became F/C Nicole Ohlde). She backed up starting center Kamila Vodichkova in the 2004 championship season and took over the starting slot when Kamila was lost to the Phoenix Mercury in free agency during the 2005 offseason. She has played that spot without fail given that Seattle plays Lauren Jackson, perhaps the best power forward in the women's basketball world, at the four spot. In fact, with a little research at the Storm site or the WNBA.com player file, her status as a center would be quite clear. She hurt her shoulder last year, and it seems to be good journalism to mention that frequently.
Lauren Jackson (LJ) is Australian. She plays power forward. She has cool tattoos. She is really good at this game. She always gets picked first on the playground. She and LA Center Lisa Leslie don't get along after Leslie lost her fake hair in the Olympics fighting for post position against LJ. Lisa is having a baby this year, so you won't have to know this but can make comments about the missed rivalry when LA comes to town. You will figure out the rest once you see her play.
Sue Bird (Sue or Birdy) is from New York, but she played for Connecticut and won some NCAA championships. She plays point guard but shoots very well, and is occasionally asked to play the two guard when other teams are pressuring the point heavily. She has broken her nose twice and sometimes wears a mask. Bird's "beak" jokes are generally taboo. Making negative or constructive comments about her defense are generally acceptable, though you will seem more knowledgeable if you note that she is excellent in transition defense, with her half court defense being the suspect skill.
Iziane Castro-Marques (Izi) is from Brazil. She is really fast but is NOT related to the NBA's fastest player, Brazillian Leandro Barbosa. Izi lost her confidence and struggled through the middle of last season but was buoyed by fan support and regained her spot as a starter. Izi is very funny and she will make you laugh.
Betty Lennox (B-Money) is the starting shooting guard for the Storm picked up in the expansion draft of 2004 after the folding of the Cleveland Rockers. She was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2000 playing for the Minnesota Lynx. She got an unfavorable reputation in the league, however and bounced around with mixed press from Minnesota to Miami to Cleveland before finding a home in Seattle with fans who simply adore her. She won the 2004 WNBA Finals MVP award after back to back scintilating scoring displays in shoot outs with Connecticut Sun player Nykesha Sayles. She truly earned the title almost single handedly over coming the struggles of LJ and Sue where the Sun focused their defense. She is tough as nails, a streaky shooter who sometimes makes questionable decisions, but no one questions her heart. She often refers to herself in the third person which most people find somewhat endearing and other find diva-esque. You can pick your side. Chants of "Bet-ty! Bet-ty! Bet-ty!" are not uncommon in Key Arena when B-Money gets going.
Wendy Palmer is new to the Storm but has been with the WNBA since its inception. She plays the Power Forward position for Seattle but has played Center in the past against smaller lineups. She may play some small forward this year against bigger lineups. She played for Connecticut against the Storm in the 2004 championship. She had an amazing start to the year last year, then hurt her achilles and was gone. The fans love her even though they barely got to see her play.
Coach Anne Donovan (Big Sexy) played for Old Dominion and the US Olympic Team and was a winner at both. She played college ball with Nancy Lieberman, but Anne has continued her success at the professional level while Nancy is now known for making some of the most foolish comments possible on national television with regards to basketball on a regular basis. Anne is the only WNBA coach to make the finals in both the east (with the Charlotte Sting) and the west (with the Seattle Storm). She is the only female coach to win the WNBA Championship. Yes, she is taller than most of her players. Many journalists like to comment on her wardrobe. Fans adore her, as the coach who brought the city its first championship since 1979. She was a bruiser in the post, so critisize her at your own risk. She can likely kick your hiney, though when she actually lets a smile out (maybe once a season), you can see she is really a softie at heart.
I'll hold off on the rest for now as we wait to see who makes the final lineup. Don't worry, though, Darren, I'll be sure to keep you informed. Oh, and by the way, it may be a litle uncomfortable to talk to the "competition," but try sitting near Jayda Evans and asking lots of questions. Jayda has proven to be one of the best in the industry at covering the women's game and she really knows her stuff. I have never met her, but have heard that she is super sweet, so you might find a potential mentor on your hands, that is, if you are really serious about this assignment. Good luck.