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Castro Marques’ Game Has Matured

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | April 25, 2007
Last June, Seattle Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan agonized over the decision. She knew that starting forward Iziane Castro Marques was struggling and was being outplayed by her backup, rookie Barbara Turner. However, she also feared that by benching Castro Marques, she might lose her for good. Instead, 10 months later, it is obvious that the move turned around Castro Marques' season and her career with the Storm.

"I had to sit on the bench and watch what I had to do," Castro Marques recalled after the Storm practiced Wednesday. "That gave me another perspective and I knew I didn't want to be on the bench, so I did everything I could to change that situation and do my best to be on the floor and help my team."


Castro Marques' season turned July 22, with the Storm in New York. At Madison Square Garden, her 26 points off the bench on 10-for-12 shooting sparked a blowout win for the Storm. With Turner hampered by a back injury, Castro Marques stepped back into the starting lineup the next game at Washington.

Her consistent play maintained that position. After scoring double-figures just four times in the first 23 games of the season, Castro Marques did it eight times in the Storm's last 11 games. Only once was she held below eight points.

A look at the numbers, below, shows two very different seasons for Castro Marques.

A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
MPG
PPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
TS%
Pos%
First 23 G
15.3
4.5
.416
.308
.568
.489
.173
Last 11 G
27.5
13.0
.514
.436
.818
.623
.200
TS% - True Shooting Percentage
Pos% - Percentage of team's possessions used

That kind of scoring ability has been present for Castro Marques before, but primarily in international play. She has emerged as the young star of her Brazilian National Team. During last fall's World Championship hosted by Brazil, Castro Marques averaged 16.9 points per game, good for seventh in the tournament. In the WNBA, however, such scoring outbursts came only sporadically before the last stretch of 2006.


"I think that is the main difference - when I don't hesitate, I just go and make things happen."
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty
"I think this is more like a confidence thing," Castro Marques said. "Here, sometimes, I'm not comfortable in doing that or I'm not sure if I can go, so sometimes I hesitate. I think that is the main difference - when I don't hesitate, I just go and make things happen.

"My role here is different, so I didn't really know what to do on the court. I knew I had to be a defensive stopper, but on the offensive end, I really wasn't comfortable. I didn't know what I could do or not."

Castro Marques' game is what you might expect from someone from a country known for Carnival, soccer and its samba music. She thrives on activity, and is at her best in transition, where few in the WNBA can run with her end to end.

The half-court game, however, is a different matter. Only late last season did she begin to master how to fit her game into Donovan's motion offense. The result was more shot attempts, which she made at a better percentage - particularly from downtown.

During the early part of training camp, Castro Marques has emerged, at age 25, as a veteran. With 11-year vet Wendy Palmer limited to one practice a day, Castro Marques will be the Storm's most experienced player half the time until the team's leaders return. Donovan sees a very different player.

"She's got a very confident, composed way about her now," said Donovan. "(Rookie) Katie Gearlds looked at Izi when she came to camp yesterday and realized, 'Okay, that's what it looks like. That's what a WNBA player looks like. That's what a starter looks like in the league.' She had the same reaction to T (Tanisha Wright), but Izi being more closely in her position, (that was stronger)."

During her off-season, split between playing in Latvia and in Spain, Castro Marques put in time in the weight room in an effort to add muscle to her lithe 6-0 frame. The work seems to have paid off, and now Donovan is pleasantly surprised by how Castro Marques has improved her ability to finish in traffic.

DAILY CAMP REPORT
Check out the new daily audio camp report, featuring analysis from Alan Horton and Kevin Pelton in addition to interviews with Coach Donovan and several players.
"We've been asking her the last couple of years to not just rely on the three-point shot, to shot fake and get in there," Donovan said. "When we've encouraged her to do that and she's finally done that, it's been shot fake, get in there and really not a lot of focus to finish the shot - not really able to withstand the contact inside. She has shown that she can finish shots, she can handle the contact and she is really living up to what we want from her. With her quickness, she can past anybody at the three-point line, but having the composure and the focus to finish through contact (is the key) and she's starting to do that.

"It's great to see her come back and already do the things that we need her to do here - and do them with strength and confidence. I think that's coming with maturity in her body and in her game."