DeForge Back in the D
“Our backcourt needed some help in two ways,” Reeve explained. “One, scoring in some games has been a problem. And also this gives [Katie] Smith and [Deanna] Nolan a little more veteran help in key situations. Anna DeForge is a really good player. For us to add that to the mix, it should help us.”
Farris started Detroit’s first three games, averaging 3.0 points in 18.0 minutes per game. She became a bit player when Cheryl Ford returned to the lineup June 19, and her role was further reduced when Kara Braxton’s suspension ended a week later. Farris received her first “DNP-Coach’s Decision” Sunday against the Sun. She had one point in 13 minutes in the three games prior.
“We like the progress of Cheryl Ford, and the return of Kara gave us a really solid frontcourt,” Reeve said.
While Farris found minutes hard to come by, DeForge addresses two areas of need for the Shock, backcourt depth and 3-point shooting. “I think throughout my career I’ve been known to keep the defense honest, open things up in the middle,” DeForge said. “Obviously I’m a 3-point shooter, I don’t think there are people in the league who don’t know that.”
A career 37.5-percent shooter from beyond the arc, DeForge has averaged 46 triples per season since 2005. Her long ball should be a welcome addition to a 3-point attack that has become too dependent on Smith.
The Shock are currently 11th in 3-point field-goal percentage at 29.6 percent, a drop from 35.6 percent last season. The percentage freefalls when you remove Smith, who accounts for 20 of Detroit’s 34 triples on the season. The rest of the team is just 14-of-63 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range.
“Adding someone like DeForge, with her ability to score the ball, particularly from the perimeter [and] the 3-ball, stretches things out,” Reeve said. “It felt like a move we thought we should make.”
One factor contributing to Detroit’s shooting woes is an injured Nolan, who is just 6-for-26 behind the arc. Nolan has been hampered all season, first by a shoulder injury suffered overseas and most recently by a strained right hamstring.
When the hamstring sidelined Nolan in the second half of Sunday's loss to the Sun, rookie Shavonte Zellous picked up the slack, playing 31 minutes off the bench. Detroit’s other perimeter starters also logged major minutes, with Smith played 40 minutes and Alexis Hornbuckle 33.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this group,” DeForge said. “For years I’ve had to play against Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan and now to actually put on the same color jersey as them, hopefully we’re going to be a formidable combo.”
DeForge is more than an extra body to spell the starters, however. The seven-year vet has proven she can play extended minutes without turning the ball over, with a career average of 1.6 turnovers per game. She averaged less than one turnover (0.91) in 25 minutes a game last season. The Shock are averaging 17.2 turnovers per game, nearly three more than a year ago.
“If that’s one thing they’re looking for, better decision-making, then obviously sometimes with veterans you get that,” said DeForge, 33.
DeForge started her WNBA career in Detroit in 2000, and blossomed into an All-Star caliber guard with Phoenix from 2003-05. She averaged a career-high 14.4 points in 2004, when she was selected to the WNBA Select All-Star team to play against the U.S. Olympic squad.
DeForge also spent two years with the Fever before playing for Minnesota in 2008. She started all 34 games for the Lynx, averaging 8.5 points and 3.0 rebounds.