Farris added to the frontcourt mix

Welcome Back, Barb

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - In her first practice with the Shock since 2005, Barbara Farris found herself right at home Thursday. “I got cussed out already on the first day so it feels like family,” joked Farris, who signed with Detroit after being waived by Sacramento earlier in the week.

Farris forgot one of the plays - and then was quickly reminded what it’s like to draw the ire of head coach Bill Laimbeer. Farris spent her first six pro seasons in Detroit, including 3˝ under Laimbeer. That familiarity should help her diminish the chances of future missteps.

“It’s pretty much the same system,” she said. “It’s just a matter of getting in, knowing the 4 and 5 [positions]. I’ve got like three years of other teams’ systems in my head.”

Farris is once again in a Detroit state of mind after spending two seasons in New York and one in Phoenix, which traded her to Sacramento in the off-season. Though the Shock have several veteran post players in camp, Farris hopes to make room for one more on the final 11-player roster.

Laimbeer wouldn’t put it past her, saying he was “unclear on spots 10 and 11” following Wednesday’s preseason win over Chicago. “I expect her to compete for a spot,” he said. “She’s a good veteran. She’s going to get in there and mix it up and give it her best shot.”

Farris had a memorable six-year run with the Shock from 2000-05. On the franchise’s all-time list she ranks third in games played (371) and ninth in rebounds (462) and minutes (2,641). Four of the players ahead of her on the rebounding list - Cheryl Ford, Deanna Nolan, Kara Braxton and Plenette Pierson - are still with the team, which speaks to Detroit’s depth, and illustrates the challenge Farris has before her.

“There are a lot of teams that are impressive on paper but don’t necessarily translate it on the court. And this team, this franchise, is definitely proof that on paper, on court, they’re pretty tough to beat,” she said. “That’s what makes this team special.”

In addition to veterans, the 6-foot-3 Farris faces stiff competition from youngsters like second-year center Olayinka Sanni and 2009 second-round draft pick Britney Miller. With career averages of 3.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, Farris knows she won’t score as many points as Taj McWilliams-Franklin or grab as many rebounds as Cheryl Ford. She hopes nine years of WNBA experience and strong screen-setting will work in her favor.

“Obviously we’ve got so many great shooters that come off of screens well, being smart about getting my player open,” will be her focus, she said. “If I set a good screen for someone, then I’m getting myself open.”

Farris also has proven extremely durable, averaging nearly 32 games per season since 2001. She played in all 34 games for the Mercury last season, including eight starts, posting 3.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Her best pro season came in 2006, her first with the Liberty, when she averaged 7.7 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Before signing with New York as a free agent, Farris said Laimbeer told her that her days in Detroit might not be over. “That was the first thing he said to me, ‘You definitely loved your time here but you never know what’s going to happen. You could maybe end up back here,’” said Farris, smiling. “So I guess he does know it all.”

AfterShocks: Taj McWilliams-Franklin made her preseason debut Wednesday after missing the first game with an injury. She had eight points (4-6 FGs) and two rebounds in 20 minutes. Updating other injuries, Laimbeer said Plenette Pierson (knee) would practice Friday, and Deanna Nolan (shoulder) would try to practice Sunday or Monday. He was unsure when Cheryl Ford (knee) and Kristin Haynie (quadriceps) would return to action.