Thursday Practice Report
Quanitra Hollingsworth was not happy with her play in her rookie season. The 6-foot-5 center sought the help of an accomplished post player on the team.
That happened to be head coach Jennifer Gillom. The two began working together to improve her game and help the Lynx achieve their goals. They focused on her footwork and getting her more comfortable in the post, introducing and polishing a post move every week, to help the rookie from Virginia Commonwealth meet her high standards and contribute more to the team.
After uneven play throughout the first half of the season, Hollingsworth finally started to break out last week.
"Right now I'm just focused on playing my game," Hollingsworth said. "I think because we're this far into the season, I know my teammates better now and they know me better. And they know where I thrive and where I still need to work on. Right now they are getting me in positions where I can definitely optimize my opportunities and right now I'm doing that."
The hard work began to show as Hollingsworth scored a career-high 12 points in 23 minutes in last Friday's loss to Detroit. She topped it the next day, scoring 17 points against the Mercury. She is averaging 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in her last three contests -- a healthy increase from her season averages of 4.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
It showed a lot of growth from Hollingsworth and the comfort she is now finding in the WNBA.
"I think she needed that attention," Gillom said. "I think she's been working on her footwork a whole lot lately. And the good thing about it is when a player asks you for help. That speaks volumes. I think that's why she's playing well. She wants the help. She is, to me, looking better and better. Now that she's comfortable with her footwork, she gets comfortable with her game and I think that's why she's developing so much confidence."
Gillom said Hollingsworth's struggles at the beginning of the season had more to do with her fundamentals rather than learning the actual scheme of the game. She said Hollingsworth knew the game and what she had to do but had to feel comfortable with herself. The one-on-one practice time with Gillom has certainly helped her in that respect.
Hollingsworth was selected with the ninth overall pick in the Draft. She averaged 14.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game her senior year at VCU. She helped lead the Rams to a 26-7 record her senior year and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
But stepping up to the professional level was, perhaps, a bigger leap than she anticipated. Hollingsworth played well early in the season, but from June 23 to July 22 she failed to score more than five points in 10 games.
She said the biggest adjustment she has had to make is getting comfortable in the post and adjusting to the higher level of play. No more could she simply turn and shoot over her opponents, she had to add a new dimension to her game.
That is one of the reasons she sought out her head coach and began working with Gillom individually. Hollingsworth said Gillom has been teaching her how to be comfortable reacting to defenses and dictating what she can do rather than settling for a familiar jumper or post move that she depended on in college.
The improved play last week has helped Hollingsworth begin to turn her season around. But the rookie knows she can do a lot better and that there is more success to come.
"I know I can do a lot better," Hollingsworth said. "I'm always going to strive for excellence. I can't be perfect. But to have a great second half would be a great statement. I don't want to disappoint many people, but right now I know I'm disappointing myself. Right now, all I can do is look forward. I can't dwell on the past."
Jen Gillom Audio
Jen Gillom talks about how the team has refreshed itself with time off between games for practicing as the Lynx try to snap a three-game losing streak.
Renee Montgomery Audio
Renee Montgomery talks about the roller coaster that has been her rookie season and the adjustments she's still making to the WNBA.
Quanitra Hollingsworth Audio
Quanitra Hollingsworth talks about working with Jen Gillom to improve her post game and become a better player.
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