Larkins Rules the Glass

By Tom Rietmann | May 28, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Erlana Larkins goes on one of her rebounding binges, she's virtually unstoppable.

It happened again in Indiana's most recent game, an 82-77 overtime victory at Atlanta. Larkins went on a tear, dominating, playing with abandon, taking control when the Fever needed it most.

At the end, the statistics sheet reflected one particularly stunning number for Larkins: 22 rebounds, which was a franchise single-game record and just two off the WNBA mark. The 22 boards shattered Larkins' own regular-season record of 17 set last season. She also holds the club's playoff mark with 20.

Larkins' performance against the Dream had Fever Coach Lin Dunn speaking in superlatives.

“One hundred percent pure effort,” Dunn said about the 28-year-old center's play. “If we could get that kind of effort out of every player right now, we'd be undefeated. I can't say enough about her effort on the boards, her effort on defense.”

Indiana is 1-3 heading into a pair of home games this week: against Connecticut on Thursday and New York on Saturday. The Fever squad is looking for more of the same from Larkins, whose impressive showing at Atlanta didn't end with her rebounding. She stuffed the box score with a line that included 13 points, six steals and four assists.

“It just shows the effort and the heart she plays with,” Fever point guard Briann January said. “We're trying to get everybody on that same level, where they are relentless on the boards and relentless with everything they're doing. (Larkins) plays with heart and passion every day.”

Larkins is the WNBA leader with an average of 13.8 rebounds per game. Keep in mind that she's 6-foot-1, small for a center. Her two closest pursuers, Tulsa's Courtney Paris (13.0) and New York's Tina Charles (12.3), are both 6-foot-4.

For Larkins, rebounding success begins with her positioning at the rim and an innate sense of where a miss is apt to come off. “That's probably 40 percent of it for me,” she said. The other 60 percent, she added, is simply her desire to chase down the carom.

“You just have to have a persistent attitude,” Larkins said, “that nothing anybody does is going to keep you from getting the rebound. You have to go after the ball real fearlessly.”

Larkins prepares for games by listening to some R&B or perhaps hip hop. When she takes the floor, she plays with an edge and an unrelenting push to achieve. That level of effort remains the same throughout for Larkins, who is averaging 32.4 minutes per game.

Larkins' contributions extend beyond rebounding. She is tied for the WNBA lead in steals with a 3.0 average. And her 11.3 scoring average is the best of her three seasons with the Fever.

Indiana star Tamika Catchings has yet to play this season because of a back injury. Promising rookie Natasha Howard is still learning the ways of the WNBA. That means the Indiana club needs Larkins to produce scoring around the basket to accompany her rebounding and defense.

“She's our go-to player inside,” Dunn said. “As our rookie Howard continues to develop on both ends of the floor, we've got to get the ball to E (Larkins) and E has to score. I don't think she's really felt that way in the past. She was maybe the third or fourth option. Right now, inside, she's No. 1.”

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