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Kobryn Getting Comfortable

Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | June 7, 2012

This time a year ago, Ewelina Kobryn was representing her national team in the EuroBasket competition. By the time Kobryn arrived at the end of June to join the Seattle Storm and provide more size off the bench with Lauren Jackson out of the lineup, the team was already six games in the schedule. Without the benefit of training camp or even regular practices, Kobryn had to pick up a new system largely on the fly in a foreign language.

That difficult experience contrasts with this season, when Kobryn returned to the Storm with a better understanding of her role, familiar teammates and a week's worth of training camp before the start of the regular season. The results have been obvious. Kobryn fits better into the Storm's lineup and has found a role in Head Coach Brian Agler's rotation.

Ewelina Kobryn is introduced before a game at KeyArena.
Neil Enns/Storm Photos

Ewelina Kobryn has solidified her spot in the Storm's rotation with physical, effective play off the bench.

"It's my second year here and I know more options in the offense and defense," said Kobryn. "Everything is coming easier for me. I feel comfortable, too."

Teammates have taken notice.

"Ewa's doing a nice job," said veteran Katie Smith. "She's looking real comfortable with the offenses, moving well defensively. She gives us another offensive threat. I think for her, having more training camp than last year has helped her feel comfortable and go in there and play well."

Starting last week against Minnesota, the past four games have been the best sustained stretch of Kobryn's WNBA career. In 58 minutes - including a career-high 21 during Wednesday's rematch with the Lynx - Kobryn has totaled 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting and nine rebounds. Over the course of the season, Kobryn's 56.3 percent shooting is tops on the Storm. That kind of performance has earned her the chance to play regularly going forward.

"She's strongly positioned in the rotation," said Agler. "Obviously we've given her more opportunities, and I think she's playing pretty well. She's doing good things for us. She's physical around the basket. She's a good inside presence. When I say physical, she's that both offensively and defensively. She's a very good offensive and defensive rebounder."

Kobryn's style of play stands out on a team that often relies more on finesse than power. Her strength also makes her one of the Storm's top options when it comes to defending opponents who like to score in the post.

For Kobryn, knowing she's going to get to play on a nightly basis has made it easier to settle in on the court. She also understands the importance of each stint on the court given her role.

"In Europe I am a starter and of course I feel comfortable because if I make a mistake, it's no problem," she explained. "I play more. It's not like here. I have to be really, really focused if I want to get more minutes here. I want to get more minutes and I want to give more help to the team. Always if somebody gives me a chance, I want to use it the best."

Now, Kobryn is showing more of the skills she's displayed in Europe. Last year, she averaged 13.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as her team, Wisla Can-Pack Krakow, reached the EuroLeague's Final Eight. Kobryn was one of three stars for Krakow, which swept its way to the Polish PLKK title, along with long-time WNBA contributors Erin Phillips and Nicole Powell. The performance earned Kobryn a new contract with Russian power UMMC Ekaterinburg for next season, when Kobryn will play with Storm teammate Sue Bird and former WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi.

The learning process continues. Kobryn is still mastering the nuances of a Storm playbook that is more complex than the ones she's used to in Europe. Agler believes that mastering the Storm's system will yield continued improvement for Kobryn and the Storm's second unit.

Language remains one challenge. Kobryn understands English, but sometimes needs a split second for comprehension. Practices conducted entirely in English are an adjustment after her club season with Wisla and its Spanish coach, Jose Hernandez.

"She went from being coached in Spanish and Polish to being coached in English" Agler said. "We really have to take our time and talk with her in practice. Her teammates are doing a great job with that."

Just like her performance on the floor, Kobryn's handle on the language is improving - mostly.

"Sometimes yes, sometimes no," she joked. "It depends on the day."

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