Storm guard Tanisha Wright returned to practice Wednesday.
Wright, the team’s best defender, missed Seattle’s past five games due to a bone bruise in her right knee. Before the injury, Wright had missed only five games in her 10-year WNBA career.
“There’s pain and there’s going to be some pain,” she said of the knee. “It’s just a matter of how much pain can it endure. That’s pretty much it.”
Wednesday was Wright’s first chance to test the knee because of an unusual practice schedule. The Storm has either traveled or made community practice appearances recently, like Tuesday’s in SeaTac, that have prevented traditional workouts.
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Back at the training facility on Seattle Pacific’s campus Wednesday, Storm coach Brian Agler was able to focus on some of the lapses the team has had in games. Seattle (7-11) hosts Los Angeles (6-9) at KeyArena on Thursday.
Guard Temeka Johnson was glad to see Wright on the practice court instead of the sideline, where Wright has been going through mundane conditioning drills. Johnson started twice in place of Wright.
“It was good to see her back to her old self,” Johnson said. “As long as she’s healthy and not trying to force anything to do anything because she thinks the team needs her. No, she was out there because she was ready to be out there.”
Wright had some observations from being sidelined. She noted the Storm’s improved offense. Seattle averaged 74 points in June after opening the season averaging a league-worst 66.3 points in May.
But Wright said the team lacks defensive consistency — a problem since the season started. Seattle is a half-game behind Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Storm is 0-2 against the Sparks this season.
“We know that we need it (the win), but we’re not going to hit the panic button and try to do anything extra or anything different, because that’s uncharacteristic of ourselves,” Johnson said.
Wright said there’s a daily reminder of the importance of every game. And she hopes to return Thursday to be another vocal reminder on the court and not the bench.
“We’re a good basketball team, that’s what I see,” Wright said of her time on the sideline. “But it’s a matter of understanding that every single possession matters. Sometimes that’s what we lacked. We may have rested for a quarter or four minutes and that’s when we get killed. Everything matters.”
• Los Angeles forward Nneka Ogwumike is wearing a protective face mask during games. She hasn’t suffered any injuries, however.
“I had this (mask) made my freshman year at Stanford and I had to whip it out because I’ve been getting hit in the face lately,” Ogwumike said. “My nose is not broken but it is bruised.”
Ogwumike has scored 20 points or more in her past four games. Two were double-doubles, recording 11 rebounds twice.
• There’s a new coach Agler. The Storm coach’s son Bryce accepted a position at Eastern Illinois as an assistant coach. The Panthers are coached by Debbie Black, who starred in the defunct American Basketball League and in the WNBA.
Bryce Agler is a recent graduate of Wittenberg University, where his father won a Division III championship.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067
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