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Originally published Tuesday, April 26, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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WNBA: SPU's Taylor gets a shot with Storm

It's familiar territory, just up and over Queen Anne Hill from the Seattle Pacific campus, but surrounded yesterday by cameras, humming...

Seattle Times staff reporter

It's familiar territory, just up and over Queen Anne Hill from the Seattle Pacific campus, but surrounded yesterday by cameras, humming tape recorders and players she once watched from comfortable KeyArena seats, Amy Taylor knew this was different.

"It's very overwhelming," said Taylor, who led Seattle Pacific to the NCAA Division II championship game last season. "Being at the D-II level, we didn't get that much media press. Things are a little bit more laid back. So, the glitzy things are a surprise to me."

Taylor, a 5-foot-8 point guard, is among 13 new faces with the Storm. But only 14 players, including nine of the newbies, are presently at training camp.

The players were treated to a team dinner Sunday evening and had a meeting to discuss rules. Yesterday was spent completing physicals, meeting with media and participating in a short practice to break everyone in.

The atmosphere was unexpected for Taylor. She has spent this spring trying to shake her basketball form in re-learning how to throw the javelin for Seattle Pacific's track and field team. Taylor placed fifth at the state meet in the event for Shorewood High.

Her summer plans were to finish track, then experience missionary work in Austria and possibly play for Athletes in Action.

But with Olympian Sue Bird leading her Russian team to the country's championship series and Australian Jessica Bibby dealing with a back injury, Taylor suddenly has a shot — a longshot — to make the Storm roster as a reserve.

Taylor will compete with Oregon standout Shaquala Williams and rookie Tanisha Wright, a natural shooting guard. Coach Anne Donovan made it clear all of the players in camp will be judged not only against each other but against the talent still playing abroad.

Bibby's injury isn't as severe as originally thought, trimming Taylor's chances. Bibby is able to do workouts in a pool, and after Storm doctors evaluate her medical records, Donovan and her staff will determine if she's a valuable risk.

"It's not a financial piece at all," said Donovan, who has considerable room under the league's $673,000 salary cap. "It's really just whether it makes sense or not to bring somebody in that has a current back injury that may flare up again during the season."

The Storm leaves for its first exhibition game in New York on May 7, and Bird plans to play as she is expected to arrive from Russia. Olympian Lauren Jackson will be among the happy faces to greet her.

Jackson has been in Seattle since February rehabilitating her reconstructed right ankle. She can run but hasn't been cleared to play. She has been working with former Sonic Talvin Skinner (1974-76) on post moves while transitioning to small forward.

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Donovan's dream lineup is Bird and Finals MVP Betty Lennox on the perimeter, Jackson on the wing with Janell Burse and Australian Suzy Batkovic in the post. That would be three 6-5 players inside, a similar look to the Sacramento Monarchs last season.

For now, though, the team is a hodgepodge of new faces.

Storm viewing

Fox Sports Net increased its partnership with the Storm, negotiating a six-game broadcast schedule. FSN will debut with Seattle's home game against Houston on May 27. It also will cover the June 2 matchup at Phoenix and home games against Sacramento (July 3, Aug. 25), New York (July 19) and Minnesota (Aug. 18).

Note

• The Storm has added more than 1,400 season-ticket holders since winning the championship in October. Its total remains below 5,000, however. The team averaged 7,960 fans last summer.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

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