2008 in Review: Katie Gearlds
Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | November 18, 2008
From early in training camp, new Seattle Storm Head Coach Brian Agler took a special interest in the development of 2007 first-round pick Katie Gearlds. Famously, reporters heard Agler tell Gearlds he'd be all over her "like white on rice" about improving at the defensive end of the floor.
"I think he sees something in me, probably the same thing I see in myself - the potential to be a pretty decent player in this league, more than just a role player," Gearlds said at year's end. "Last year, I definitely had that role-player mentality. I told Brian to stay on me. When you have somebody on you like that, pushing you, you know it's for a good reason - because he cares. So he can stay on me forever."
Agler started with something of a position change for Gearlds, who had played both wing positions and heavily at shooting guard as a rookie. During her second season, Gearlds moved primarily to forward, even seeing some time as an undersized power forward. It took a while for Gearlds to make the adjustment, while she also had to get comfortable finding her stroke in the short stints Agler favors.
At the midway point of the season, Gearlds was averaging just 2.4 points per game. After starting the season as a regular, she had played 10 minutes or more just twice in the month of June. Then something clicked in, and Gearlds took off. The turning point came July 5 against Minnesota, when Gearlds tied her career high by scoring 17 points in 20 minutes against Minnesota, knocking down four three-pointers in six attempts.
Over the second half of 2008, Gearlds would play fewer than 10 minutes just twice. While injuries offered her more regular minutes, Gearlds took full advantage by playing the kind of confident basketball Agler desired. She would more than triple her scoring average over the season's final 17 games, contributing 7.7 points per night.
During the last week of the season, Gearlds had the chance to become a go-to player for the Storm on the wing with Swin Cash and Sheryl Swoopes sitting out due to injuries. She helped the short-handed Storm nearly pull off an upset at Sacramento by matching her career high with 17 points, shooting a sizzling 5-of-6 from three-point range and adding five rebounds. In the Storm's home finale against Atlanta, Gearlds bested her career high with 20 points, going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Against Los Angeles in the postseason, Agler had a more difficult time finding a good matchup for Gearlds against the supersized Sparks forwards. With the Storm back at relatively full strength, Gearlds averaged just seven minutes in the series, scoring six points in three games.
Gearlds took an important step forward in her development during her second season, becoming the kind of feared shooter off the bench the Storm envisioned in adding Gearlds out of Purdue. Her 39.1 percent shooting from three-point range (up from 34.4 percent as a rookie) ranked Gearlds 10th in the WNBA, and she was also in the league's top 10 in threes per 40 minutes. Having established her shooting bona fides, Gearlds looks forward to broadening her game while spending the offseason overseas in Athens. In addition to improving her ballhandling, she cited her desire to improve her conditioning going into year three of her career, enabling her to potentially spend more time in the backcourt and become a more difficult matchup for frontcourt players.
2008 Photo Gallery
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