August 6, 2011 in Sports

Storm’s Tanisha Wright sports aggressive offensive approach in wake of Lauren Jackson injury

Jayda Evans Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Storm defensive stopper Tanisha Wright, right, has an aggressive offensive approach in her expanded role.
(Full-size photo)

Swin Cash sounded Pollyanna-ish at the time.

In June, three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson suffered her fourth injury in the past three years and Cash proclaimed that observers would see things they hadn’t from the Storm.

And that would be a good thing.

Enter Tanisha Wright, a 5-foot-11 slasher who doesn’t need a real introduction.

She’s captain of the Storm’s defense, named to the WNBA’s all-defensive team in 2009. That was her first season as a mainstay in the starting lineup, and she averaged a career-best 12.2 points and 3.9 assists.

Wright was a key factor Friday, scoring 18 points as the Storm (12-8) beat the Connecticut Sun 81-79.

“My nature is aggressive,” said Wright, a seven-year veteran. “You tend to lay back when you have a player like Lauren, because she does a lot of the work for you. But when a player like that is out, you can revert back to who you are … that’s the combination of what you’re seeing. My aggressiveness is coming out a little bit more now.”

When the Storm have offensive lulls, it’s often Wright charging to the hoop to snap the dry spell. In three-guard lineups with veterans Sue Bird and Katie Smith on the court, Wright can dish to both for 3-pointers.

Bad habits like turnovers and pointless dribbling seem to have vanished for Wright. In Seattle’s past 10 games, she is averaging 12.1 points on 53.2 percent shooting. She’s also shooting 91.4 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 3.7 assists.

“I really look at Camille (Little) and ‘T’ as that X-factor,” Bird said. “When Lauren is on the floor, you kind of know what you’re going to get from her, you kind of know what you’re going to get from me and you kind of know what you’re going to get from Swin. When those players (Wright and Little) step up their game the way the have been, that’s when our team really takes off.

“Sometimes it’s not as easy as flicking that ‘on’ switch, but ‘T’ is that kind of player that’s going to do whatever the team needs. If you need for her to flip that switch, she does.”

Wright can’t remember details of the Storm’s first meeting this season with Connecticut, a 75-70 loss on the road in Seattle’s second game without Jackson. That July 1 game came two days after the Storm met President Obama in a White House Rose Garden celebration of the team’s 2010 WNBA title.

Thursday, Jackson jogged through offensive sets with the reserves, a sign she’s closer to returning from June surgery on her left hip.

The Storm are 8-6 this season without Jackson.

The aggressive Wright is looking forward to her return.

“I was telling her I’m going to take her to the basket,” Wright said.

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