Turner Brings New Dimension
With a break in the Seattle Storm's second practice of 2006 training camp, Coach Anne Donovan took the opportunity to holler at rookie point guard Erin Grant.
"That post-up looked pretty good to me, Erin," said Donovan. "Why don't you look at that?"
And so began the Barbara Turner era in Seattle.
"There was a couple of things we would have liked in the Draft," Donovan explained after practice. "One would have been an outside shooter, a deadly 3-point shooter; or a post-up three. We got the post-up three, and Barbara's not a bad shooter as well."
The biggest question mark for Turner as she transitioned from her standout career at UConn to the WNBA was her ability to move from playing power forward for the Huskies to small forward as a professional. At the same time, however, that experience makes Turner a polished post player compared to most WNBA small forwards. It's a skill she's eager to show off.
"It's one of the biggest strengths of my game, so it's something I'm not going to look to take out of my game," Turner said. "Yeah, I'm play out on the perimeter, but as many chances as I can get to go inside and go to my strengths, I think that's going to help this team out a lot and that's what I want to do."
Donovan would love Turner to get plenty of looks in the post. During the portion of Tuesday's practice open to the media, the Storm worked on transition offense, with Turner in the post one of the primary options on every set involving her team. Because Turner has played against bigger players all her life, she is a crafty post player with great footwork that resulted in a couple of easy buckets during the practice.
"She has got savvy already," raved Donovan. "It's uncanny. It's not just the fact that she played the post position at Connecticut. She's got a savviness in the paint and around the rim. Great footwork, great athleticism, strong enough, focus through contact. She's got those intangibles. It doesn't matter how big you are as a three. There are some big threes that just aren't good post-up players. She happens to be a smaller player that's going to be a very good post-up player."
"It has to be an attitude and a competitiveness when you're at a disadvantage in the post," said Turner. "I think that can hurt you when you don't go out and compete really hard when you're playing against somebody that's two or three inches bigger than you, because they're just going to dominate you. I just have the attitude that I'm not going to allow anybody to throw me around or bang me around because I'm smaller."
While Turner looked comfortable on the floor during her second practice, she admits she hasn't yet been able to completely change her mindset from being a power forward to a perimeter player.
"There were a couple of times today when we were running our transition offense where I got caught on the inside a little bit, not knowing I'm supposed to be on the outside," she said.
The transition has been easier thus far on the offensive end of the court, where Turner possesses the shooting range and ballhandling ability necessary to play the three position. The bigger adjustment has been defensive, with Turner guarding smaller and quicker players than she is accustomed to playing against.
"As I look out on the court, she is so far from a post player I don't even consider that," said Donovan. "I don't coach her as a post player because she doesn't look like a post player. But the reality is that's all she's defended, is a post.
"As we learn and start to build our system, my expectations yesterday were much higher for her than they should have been. She's got to adjust to playing closer to her man and playing away from the rim, which she's never done before."
Turner is ready to put in the work necessary to hasten her transition from post to perimeter player.
"It's going to be a lot faster, a lot more demanding on the defensive end," she said. "It's something that I have to continue to work on every day, get in the gym early and get with the coaches and have them help me understand defending on the perimeter."
Donovan has little doubt in Turner's ability to improve quickly.
"I've got total confidence," Donovan said. "She's got all the skills to do it. It's just a matter of her making the adjustment. She'll be one of our better defenders is my guess."
Just two practices into her WNBA career, Turner remains a work in progress. She's got the right mindset to improve, however, and is looking forward to the rest of camp.
"I'm just continuing to get better every day," she said. "I think that's what's important right now in training camp. You have two weeks to prepare for the season. As the training camp goes on, it's important that you progress every day. So far, so good in that area."