Yes, LJ is back, but the Storm also signed a late arrival, and waived Roneeka Hodges. We don't have much on the new arrival, Romanian Florina Pascalau, other than she is a center and 6'4" She played in Italy against Adia Barnes and Doneeka Lewis which provided good feedback. While Coach Agler commented on current post prospect Kelly Santos' language barrier as a minor issue during games, he has said he likes her work. According to Kevin Pelton, Agler wanted Pascalau in camp but they had visa troubles which were resolved enough to get a look at her once she declined a contract offer from the Minnesota Lynx.
This puts Santos and Pascalau competing for a post position and Lewis, Beck and O'Neil competing for a wing position. This could actually hurt local, Kristin O'Neil's chances of making the team. If Agler feels strongly one way or the other with Beck or Lewis, he may choose to keep both posts given potential for injury with his bigs and his wealth of swing players. Size can be very important against a number of teams in this league and he is not likely to want Shyra Ely playing significant minutes at power forward.
The roster waters are muddied a bit more with final cuts required by tomorrow.
Opening night in only two days, folks. Word is that all of the suites and the lower bowl are sold out with only tickets available in the upper bowl for Saturday night's game. A very small group of Sonics fans from Save Our Sonics are making a last minute effort to get Sonics fans out to show support for the Storm on opening night and show appreciation for the efforts of the local owners that saved the team for the city.
I applaud their efforts, but I don't expect a big response. There are a number of people who might come to a single game for just these reasons, but they needed to be rallied weeks ago, not the last few days before the game. Perhaps we will see them more organized at a later date. Many NBA fans who take the time to see the Storm gain an immediate appreciation for them despite preconceptions they may have had and it could generate more fans for the team in the long run, but I fear that there are still too many "guys" out there that believe the things the WNBA players are saying in the WNBA "Expect Great" ads playing during the NBA playoffs.
Personally I think the ads are a terrible idea. None of the players used have great talent behind the camera, and they were poorly coached on delivery. Their lines are stiff and stilted, particularly the Cheryl Ford spot. Additionally, they are essentially insulting the audience they are targetting.
The excitement of the WNBA comes from seeing the games live. That is what hooks people. It is more than just the game on the floor, it is the passion of the fans and the connection with the players and the other fans. We have to get people out to see the games if we want to increase the fan base. I donated my 10 extra tickets for opening night to my son's elementary school to try and get some new people to come out...that is the approach that I think is best to grow the fans in the area. If half the season ticket holders bought extra tickets to a handfull of games and gave them out to elementary school kids they would drag their families along and new fans could be born.
On another topic, fans desperately need to create new chants to replace the horrible one's on display at the arena. The "clap your hands" piece is way over done and never seems to be done at the "right" moment. The "Go Storm, Go" chant makes me crazy. I am OK with the "Day-o" chant though I know other fans loathe it. The "Whose ball is it?" exchange Pittman does with the crowd works by far better with Storm fans than it ever did with Sonics fans, though.
I am rambling now...perhaps I should reign in my excitement and get ready for tomorrow's previews.