Gearlds Ready to Learn

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StormTracker - Donovan: Storm Will Keep 11
The Horton Report
Storm Waives Five
Kevin Pelton, | April 24, 2007
Seattle Storm first-round pick Katie Gearlds got her introduction to the professional game Monday, practicing for the first time with the Storm.

"It was good," said Gearlds Tuesday, after completing a second practice. "We've had two practices. Just trying to get adjusted to this level. Obviously, it's a step up from college. I'm trying to learn Coach (Anne) Donovan's philosophies and styles. I think I improved a little bit today from yesterday and I'm just looking to make improvements from here on out."

"Just trying to get adjusted to this level. I think I improved a little bit today from yesterday and I'm just looking to make improvements from here on out."
Elaine Thompson/AP
The skills which made Gearlds so attractive to the Storm in the draft have quickly been evident, particularly her excellent shooting touch. At the same time, as it is for almost any rookie, camp will be a learning experience for Gearlds.

"Katie looks great," Storm Coach Anne Donovan said. "She's eager to learn and she knows she has a lot to learn, in particular on the defensive end. But very smart and is learning angles. Every day she's getting better defensively, so I think she's going to be a good impact player for us this year."

"Obviously I've got the stereotype of being a typical slow white girl," said Gearlds. "I try to make up for that with my size and my length. That's something we've been working on a little bit - getting me to use my hands. I think I'll be alright. I'm pretty smart and I'll get quicker one of these days."

During the portion of practice open to the media, Gearlds had a couple of deflections during a five-on-five half-court drill, proving a quick study.

For Gearlds, the first couple of days of practice have been devoted to learning a new terminology from the one she was accustomed to from her career at Purdue University, as well as finding out what Donovan wants from her. There's also an inevitable adjustment in terms of the quality and speed of the game.

"In the Big Ten," Gearlds noted, "there's usually one or two explosive athletes on a team. Here, every single player is explosive."

Gearlds has had a whirlwind last week. After attending the WNBA's Rookie Orientation, Gearlds arrived in Seattle Saturday for the first time since being drafted. She then spent Sunday meeting fans at the Stormin' the Lake event, where she was one of the most popular players, before the Storm began practice.

Check out the new daily audio camp report, featuring analysis from Alan Horton and Kevin Pelton in addition to interviews with Coach Donovan and several players.
"I'm really a homebody too, so I've been in the hotel," Gearlds said of how she's spent her limited downtime. "I'm still on Eastern time a little bit. At about 8:00, I'm ready for bed here, because it's 11:00 back home. I'm trying to get my phone calls done from back home. I think if I'm here a little bit longer, I'll be able to see the sights. It's beautiful. Seattle is gorgeous. It's different than home. There's no cornfields around, but the skies are beautiful and I like it."

There have been some familiar faces for Gearlds halfway across the country from home. Former Purdue teammates Aya Traore and Shereka Wright both joined Gearlds for camp in Seattle. Wright was waived Tuesday morning, yet to completely work her way back from an Achilles injury, but Traore - who played three years with Gearlds - has been very helpful.

"It's been awesome," said Gearlds. "Aya went through training camp last year in Washington. Having her around and telling me where to go, riding with her to practice and events ... it's good to have Aya here. Same thing with Tanisha (Wright). T's been really good. Ashley (Robinson) and Wendy (Palmer) - experienced players who have been in the league have been really helpful."