In a game framed as a warm-up for Team USA, Sue Bird and Swin Cash made solid contributions.
Cash finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting while Bird chipped in 5 assists and 2 points. However, in a game most defined by Team USA’s execution — they’ve had far more practice time — Bird’s performance is noteworthy, though seemingly statistically insignificant, as described by ESPN’s Rebecca Lobo.
You can definitely tell a difference when Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are on the court because they have so much experience playing together. Whether it was playing alongside each other at UConn, or internationally with the Olympic team, or in the offseason in Russia, they share a special chemistry. There was a significant difference when Auriemma put his veterans in and when he had a lineup of some of the younger players. The most noticeable difference was the comfort level of the younger players, but overall they should feel good about their performance.
Of course, Bird’s intangible effects on a team’s offensive execution shouldn’t be news to Storm fans, but it’s amazing to see similar effects playing for a different coach with different teammates.
On the other side of the ball, there’s little doubt that Brian Agler’s WNBA stars would have been better off with a healthy Lauren Jackson in the lineup. After the game, he addressed a few questions about Jackson to the media.
Q. Speaking of Lauren, do you know what the nature of the injury is? Is she going to be able to practice with her team this week?
COACH AGLER: I’ll be out on the floor with her in about 30 seconds, as soon as people quit asking questions (laughter). No, she worked out yesterday for the first time. We will increase that today. There was no relapse yesterday. You know, concussions are something that is taken pretty serious right now. Once you start on the court, get back to that mode where you’re on the floor, you have about five days before they can get back into contact. So if yesterday was number one, we’re looking at the early to mid next week where she could potentially be playing again.
Q. How much would you say the absence of Lauren Jackson hurt you today?
COACH AGLER: Well, I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome because, you know, there was quite a difference in the score. But, I mean, you’re talking about arguably the best player in the world, impacting both ends of the floor. I’ve said this multiple times. The reason that she is so valuable is the fact that she really dominates at both ends of the floor. She’s not just an offensive player. You’re talking about somebody that can defend multiple people, that can alter shots and block shots, that can roam the lane and really impact things that happen around the basket.
During the broadcast on ESPN, Jackson said she would be available to play in the Storm’s next game in Phoenix on Wednesday.