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Stricklen Aims to Show More Aggressive Style

May 9, 2013

Somewhere inside Shekinna Stricklen is another side of Shekinna Stricklen.

The second-year Seattle Storm forward and coach Brian Agler are working to bring that out of her as the team goes through the early stages of training camp in preparation for the 2013 WNBA season.

“She’s a really nice person – and you can’t be nice all the time in basketball,” Agler said. “We’re trying to get her to maybe have a second personality.”

Accomplish that and the 6-2 product of national powerhouse Tennessee could become an even more productive force for Seattle after averaging 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in playing every game of the 2012 campaign.

“I just want to be more aggressive. That’s something that (playing in the WNBA) really brought out of me last year,” the 22-year-old Stricklen said. “In college, I really wasn’t that aggressive in driving the ball a lot. This year, that’s something I’m really going to be focused on.

Shekinna Stricklen
Neil Enns/Storm Photos

Shekinna Stricklen aims to be more aggressive this season.

"I shot a lot of 3s last year and this year, I’m going to try to get to the basket a lot more,” she added.

Stricklen was the second overall draft pick in 2012. The Storm acquired that choice from Chicago in exchange for All-Star forward Swin Cash and reserve Le’Coe Willingham, both members of Seattle’s 2010 championship team.

She went through some of the typical rookie-year challenges. But Stricklen, who can play guard or forward, was a part of Agler’s rotation from the get-go, averaging 23 minutes per night. In only two of her 37 games (34 regular season, plus the three playoff contests against Minnesota) was she kept off the scoreboard. In 34 of those 37, she grabbed at least one rebound.

In all 37, she learned something more about herself, including one big thing she has brought with her to this year’s training camp.

“Just come out and play the game and don’t think so much,” Stricklen said.

That she’s in her second go-round with the Storm is already making things easier for her; and Agler has noticed.

“I think she’s a little more comfortable now. Whenever it’s your first time in training camp, there’s always that bundle of nerves you’re dealing with,” he said. “You’re afraid to make mistakes. Now, there’s a group of people she knows.”

She also knows Agler’s system and its emphasis on defense – and she’s glad of that.

“I’m looking to score this year some more, but I also want to be a lot better on defense,” she said. “I want to be a lot more aggressive on defense and help my teammates out more.”

Stricklen is eager to show she has found that other side of herself. She’ll get a chance on Sunday when the Storm begins preseason play against the Los Angeles Sparks in Long Beach, Calif. Tipoff is at 1 p.m.

“That’s a big game for me personally, just to really work on defense and be aggressive from the start,” she said.

Aggressive. There’s that word again. So is Agler finding some success in turning this “nice person” into a meaner, basketball-playing version of herself?

“I don’t think it’s so much that,” Agler said. “It’s more or less you have to help them have a sense of urgency. There are certain things on the court, when you’re between those lines, where you have to play with an urgency.

“Having that kind of mentality is what we’re really talking about.”

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