Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she talks with Storm coach Brian Agler, whose team has played the most games of any WNBA team to date (23), including 15 of the season’s 17 road games. The Storm, with nine of its final 11 games at home, remains in the playoff picture despite a 9-14 record, but suffered another injury when Shekinna Stricklen hurt her neck.
Seattle Times: Shekinna was taken off the court on a stretcher in the defeat Sunday at Minnesota, how is she?
Brian Agler: It was scary … She hit her head very hard on the floor taking a charge. She never lost consciousness but they were still concerned because her neck hurt. They took her to the hospital for more testing but she came back on the flight with us.
Q: I hope she was able to fly first class.
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Agler: She was sitting in first class. She was pretty sore. Doctors brought her to the airport and (associate head coach) Jenny (Boucek) met them and really looked after Shekinna until we got back to Seattle. When I talked to Shekinna, she was really groggy and still really sore. She was at practice (Monday) but didn’t participate and will probably not dress Tuesday (against Connecticut) because of the strained neck.
Q: The roster has suffered a few setbacks. How do you think the team has handled adversity headed into the All-Star break?
Agler: There’s been a lot of inconsistencies with our team this year. Like a lot of teams, we haven’t had a lot of time to practice because the season is 2½ weeks shorter. … I don’t think our defense has been up to par with the (Storm) teams in the past. I see that as a lack of court time because there are some things that need practice repetition. But we talk about it and understand the importance. So, that’s our focus, to become consistent on the quality of our play.
Q: You’re playing Sue Bird at shooting guard more to generate offense?
Agler: She’s one of our better scorers, so we have to be creative in how we create those opportunities. Plus, this is the first time we’ve had a true backup point guard (Temeka Johnson) other than Tanisha (Wright) since Shannon Johnson (in 2009). With Tanisha being out some games (knee) and monitoring her minutes, we’ve played Sue and Temeka together more. Sue is consciously trying to be more aggressive because we’re asking her to but it’s not a high volume.
Q: It seems the losing season will play a part in Sue not being selected to the All-Star team for the first time in her 13-year career. Have you turned in your ballot for Western Conference reserves?
Agler: Yeah, we did that last week. It’ll be announced (Tuesday). There were some obvious choices but I’d rather not say who I voted for.
If Sue’s not selected an All-Star, it’s not going to be a black mark against her legacy, trust me. She’s very humble — but there’s a big part of her that would like some down time. If she’s selected, she’s going to go and represent the Storm and the WNBA in the best way possible. She always does. But she’s not going to lose a ton of sleep, in fact, she’s going to get more sleep if she doesn’t go.
Q: What are your plans for the break?
Agler: We’ll practice, again, Sunday. My plan is to go back to the Midwest and do a couple of things with my family. I’m going to be in Phoenix for the All-Star Game and a couple of league meetings. Our players, if they do leave, they’re going to take a short vacation and get some rest. And rest for them is not the pounding on the legs.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.