Heather Bowman (L) and Alison Lacey (R) went through their first WNBA practice on Sunday. Aaron Last/Storm Photos
Bowman, Lacey Take Different Paths to Storm Camp
Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | April 26, 2010
Seattle Storm rookies Heather Bowman and Alison Lacey begin their WNBA career with very different perspectives. Lacey is the Storm's first-round pick who could end up in the rotation as the backup to All-Star point guard Sue Bird. Bowman, invited to training camp after going unselected in the WNBA Draft, is simply battling for a spot on the roster. Lacey is far away from where she starred at Iowa State and even more distant from where she grew up in Australia, while Bowman got the chance to play across the state from her hometown of Spokane.
Yet two days into the Storm's practices, Bowman and Lacey both find themselves in a similar position looking to make the adjustment from college ball to the pro game and pick up Head Coach Brian Agler's systems at both ends of the floor.
"It's been pretty tough; just a lot of learning," said Bowman. "I'm trying to absorb everything, all the information trying to get better, from the players and the coaches. I'm taking it all in."
"They've been intense," added Lacey. "A lot of learning, a lot of new things to take in. The pace of the game is something I'm adapting to. Overall, it's been good and the girls have been great."
Both players cite similar factors as far as the difference in play in the pro game, which is faster and more physical.
"There are the obvious things - the size, the physicality, the toughness," Bowman said. "Then there are the little things - you have to pick your teammates up, be in the right spot. I'm just trying to learn the system as well as adjust to this elite sort of play that these girls have proven they can play for a long time."
"I think the pace of the game and the physicality," Lacey noted as differences. "The style of play I'm used to at Iowa State is completely different from what it is here. It's just little things - being accountable, not letting down your teammates. You don't want to do that in college, but here you feel extra pressure. Especially coming in as a rookie, you don't want to let people down."
Lacey's learning curve is a bit more important because, as a point guard, she's responsible for helping her teammates out on the floor and maintaining order.
"I think there's extra pressure to pick up plays, be able to direct people," she said. "That's something I'm trying to pick up quickly, absorbing all the new plays. There are a lot out there right now, so it's something I have to study and work on."
Observers are impressed with how quickly Lacey has picked things up. Agler went out of his way to credit her capacity for learning, and veteran point guard Loree Moore had praise for Lacey as well.
"I think Alison's going to be great by the time she gets her feet wet and learns everything," Moore said. "She's doing great the first two days, so it's going to be nice to see how far she can go.
Having Moore, a five-year WNBA veteran, around to split responsibilities at the point and offer words of wisdom - including her encouragement to Lacey to play her game and not try to do too much - has helped the rookie point guard. But despite the compliments, and the fact that she was the Storm's first-round pick, Lacey is still not taking anything for granted.
"I came in here knowing that I'd have to work hard and there's no spot out there for me," she said. "It's me creating it. I'm just happy to be here, learning as much as I can and enjoying the experience."
Agler admitted that Bowman will have a difficult time cracking the final roster because of the depth the Storm has brought into training camp. With six players having guaranteed contracts, the Storm has just five roster spots available, and some of those will be taken by players on their rookie contracts like Lacey, Camille Little and Ashley Walker. Still, Bowman has opened some eyes with her play early in training camp.
"She's not standing out like she doesn't belong," he said. "She's done a great job. She's impressive - smart, active, can knock shots down."
Bowman appreciates the chance to spend training camp close to home.
"That was really cool," she said. "I had a 40-minute flight over and I get to be in a city I'm very familiar with. I think that makes the adjustment a little bit easier."
Lacey's experience is different. She's never been to the Northwest, with her only visit to the West Coast since arriving in the U.S. taking her to Los Angeles. Lacey looks forward to exploring the city, but since she arrived her last Thursday her focus has been on basketball.
"I came in not really expecting anything, no expectations at all - whatever happens happens," Lacey said. "I think that's the best way. Everything that's happened has been better than what I thought it would be. The girls have been really friendly. It's been an easy transition. I thought I would be a bit homesick or a bit nervous, but I feel comfortable here right now."