2012 in Review: Shekinna Stricklen
Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | Dec. 10, 2012
In April, the Storm made Tennessee forward Shekinna Stricklen the team's highest draft pick since taking Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird No. 1 overall in 2001 and 2002. The veteran Storm lineup was deep enough that Stricklen could be developed slowly, but she still contributed during a solid rookie season.
During training camp, Stricklen impressed with her outside shooting ability, and that carried over into the preseason. After missing the Storm's first exhibition to attend her college graduation, Stricklen had 15 points and four rebounds as a starter against the L.A. Sparks on Mother's Day with her mom in attendance at KeyArena.
When the real season began, Stricklen took a slight step back. She scored five points in 15 minutes in her debut against the Sparks, then suffered through a 1-of-8 shooting night at Los Angeles. Stricklen showed more indication of her promise at Minnesota on May 27, reaching double figures for the first time in her career with 12 points.
Through the first month of 2012, Stricklen's performance was subject to similar highs and lows. She scored double digits twice during June - 14 points and eight rebounds at San Antonio on June 9 and 12 points at Tulsa on June 15 - but combined for just 30 points in the team's nine other games. Because her outside shot was not falling - she made three of 28 three-pointers in the month - Stricklen was up and down, though she did contribute on the glass.
The month of July would bring Stricklen more regular playing time. With injuries striking the team's frontcourt, she stepped up and delivered some of her best performances of the season. On July 7 at Los Angeles, she scored 11 points, her first double-figure effort in three weeks. Two games later, Stricklen scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds against Atlanta. She closed out the first half of the WNBA's season by scoring 15 points and grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds for her first double-double as a pro in a win at Phoenix.
The month-long Olympic Break gave Stricklen the opportunity to develop her game and become more comfortable in the Storm's offense. After the break, her strong games were more consistent and her off nights more productive. During the Storm's second game in August, Stricklen matched her career high with 16 points against the L.A. Sparks. She went for double figures in back-to-back games late in the month, combining for 25 points against Indiana and New York.
Stricklen enjoyed one of her best games on Sept. 6 vs. Tulsa, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and adding eight rebounds. During the month of September, Stricklen stepped up on the glass, averaging 4.8 rebounds per game. She scored at least five points in each outing, including double-figure performances in three of the team's last five games.
In her first taste of the playoffs, Stricklen came off the bench to score 13 points and grab seven rebounds in Game 1 of the Storm's series with Minnesota. She had five points and five rebounds in Game 2, but played only a limited role in the deciding Game 3.
Stricklen finished her rookie season with averages of 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. She ranked sixth among first-year players in scoring and fourth in rebounding. Only Tulsa's Riquna Williams made more three-pointers. Still, Stricklen was left off the league's five-player All-Rookie Team. After spending her first offseason as a pro playing for Homend Antakya in Turkey, Stricklen will look to prove voters wrong in 2013 as a key part of the Storm's future core.
- Scored a career-high 16 points twice.
- Recorded her first WNBA double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds on July 13 at Phoenix.
- Finished among rookie leaders in points per game (sixth), rebounds per game (fourth) and three-pointers (second).
- Averaged 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds during the month of July.
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