2008 in Review: Kelly Santos
Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | Dec. 9, 2008
When the Seattle Storm signed Kelly Santos and invited her to training camp in April, it had been more than five years since she last played in the WNBA. After being waived by the Detroit Shock in 2003 following two seasons with the team, the Brazilian native focused on playing for her national team and overseas, where her size and skill made her a valued contributor.
Even in an Olympic year, Santos was ready to return to the WNBA at age 28. Her chances of making the Storm's roster, already solid, improved when Janell Burse decided to sit the season out. That made Santos the Storm's third center, a position she maintained with strong play in training camp. In the Storm's preseason finale, Santos had four points and three rebounds in just six minutes of action.
While Santos was not a regular part of the Storm's rotation, she was an option for Head Coach Brian Agler because her bruising style in the paint was so different from the skills offered by the Storm's other reserve post players. As a result, Santos would end up seeing action in 22 games, averaging 6.1 minutes.
Santos left the team in early June to help the Brazilian National Team qualify for the Olympics. She had anticipated sitting out the FIBA Olympics Qualifying Tournament to focus on the Storm, but Brazil needed her to play after fellow center Erika De Souza was injured playing for the Atlanta Dream. Despite leading scorer Iziane Castro Marques leaving the team during the tournament, Brazil earned the last of 16 available spots, allowing Santos to appear in her third straight Olympics.
During the month of July, Santos played a larger role for the Storm as the team's top posts battled injuries and Lauren Jackson left to train for the Olympics. Santos played effectively in lopsided games against Minnesota and Washington, with six and seven points, respectively. In between, Santos had five points in fewer than five minutes off the bench in a win at Indiana. She would also have four points and four rebounds in a loss at Phoenix.
Brazil had won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics with Santos on the roster and qualified for the semifinals of the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Championships, but with several veterans retiring and Castro Marques and De Souza unavailable, a much younger squad competed in Beijing. Santos was the leader on and off the floor, averaging 14.6 points and leading all players in group competition with 29 free throws. Brazil lost several heartbreaking close games and finished 1-4.
With the Storm locked into playoff position, Santos was one of several reserves who saw extended playing time the last two games of the season. She made her first career start on Sept. 12 against Atlanta, posting eight points, five rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes during the Storm's win. Santos matched the five boards in the team's season finale two days later in Los Angeles. That kind of performance demonstrated what Santos was capable of. While limited playing time hurt her per-game averages, they look better when projected to a level 40-minute playing field. Per 40 minutes, Santos averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
During the postseason, Santos saw limited action in two of the Storm's three games, scoring a bucket in Game 1 at L.A.
2008 Photo Gallery
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