Barnes Feeling Good
This time a year ago, Seattle Storm forward Adia Barnes was dealing with the frustration of not being 100% after knee surgery in July 2003. Compared to that, jetlag seems like a minor concern.
Barnes arrived in Seattle yesterday after competing her season in Turkey. After participating in shooting drills last night, this morning's practice marked Barnes' first full one of 2005.
"I'm happy to be back," said an upbeat Barnes afterward. "It feels like it's been forever. I'm excited. I feel like we have a lot of talent here, and it's just awesome to be back in Seattle."
After her first two seasons with the Storm, Barnes spent much of her off-season in Seattle, participating in the "Stormin' the Sound" community program. But after she played only 402 minutes last season - though she saw action in all 34 games, starting a pair - Barnes needed some playing time to continue her rehabilitation progress.
"The league was very competitive. It was my first time overseas in a few years, so it was a great learning experience."
Barnes averaged 33.3 minutes in 15 games in Turkey for the Mersin club, posting averages of 20.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists. But more important than her performance was feeling comfortable and confident in her knee again.
"My knee feels good," Barnes said. "It feels like it felt or better than before. I'm glad to finally have this feeling back. It gave me a lot of confidence playing on it in Turkey, playing 40 minutes a game and being healthy. So I'm happy. I feel good; I've gotten quicker. I feel ten times better than last year. It's a big difference."
The results were evident in Barnes' return to Seattle and the Storm.
"She's come back confident, she's come back in great shape," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan. "She'll get more comfortable. She was in our shooting practice last night, but this was the first time we've gotten to see her really go at. She did great."
Barnes will have to compete for a spot on the Storm's roster this season after Donovan added free agents Iziane Castro Marques and Natalia Vodopyanova at small forward and also drafted Ashley Battle in the second round of the draft. Barnes is ready for the competition.
"I think there's a lot of competition, but I'm also confident in myself and I'm confident in the way I feel," said Barnes. "I think that the WNBA overall is very competitive, so this is just like any other camp; it's going to be competitive across the board."
With seven years of WNBA experience, Barnes is the most veteran player in Storm training camp. Only Simone Edwards and Lauren Jackson have longer stints in Seattle than Barnes, who has played 75 games, starting 35, over three seasons with the Storm. Those factors will help her in the competition.
"Adia's always going to stand out in her leadership and her maturity and her basketball IQ is high, so she can fit in," said Donovan. "She knows our offense, so it didn't take any adjustment period there. She's one of our best defensive players. She came in and right away looked solid."