Castro Marques Fits Right In

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Kevin Pelton, | May 8, 2006
A year ago, when Seattle Storm forward Iziane Castro Marques arrived in camp late after playing overseas, she was forced to learn a new system, how to play with new teammates and find her role on the Storm roster. But Castro Marques proved a quick study, and after scoring eight points off the bench in the Storm's season opener, Castro Marques started all 32 games she played the rest of the season.

This year, Castro Marques again made a late return to camp, but the transition was very different.

"Even my first practice [on Saturday], I was feeling so good - it was like I had been there forever," she said after playing a team-high 23 minutes in Sunday's preseason opener against the New York Liberty. "It's much easier when you come into somewhere that you know. You know the players, you know the coaches, you know everybody."

"Even my first practice, I was feeling so good - it was like I had been there forever."
Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty
Castro Marques had been in Seattle barely 48 hours by the time she took the court for the first time on Sunday.

"It was fun to be back at KeyArena with the fans," she said. "It was a little hard for me because I only practiced once and had today's shootaround, but I think we can do better than this and I will be better also. We have another week until the next exhibition game, so I think it's going to be good."

During the game, Castro Marques looked a little rusty from the perimeter, missing all three of her 3-point attempts, but scored five points and six rebounds. Because she just re-joined the Storm, Castro Marques came off the bench, and with backup shooting guard Tanisha Wright starting at small forward as part of a small lineup, Castro Marques moved to shooting guard for most of the game. She rarely played the position during 2005 for the Storm but has plenty of experience as a two.

"I used to play the two, even on the national team," said Castro Marques. "It doesn't matter the two or the three, I feel comfortable either way."

After getting a few more practices in with the Storm, Castro Marques should be back to small forward. While rookie Barbara Turner has pushed for a big role with her performance thus far, Castro Marques remains the favorite to start at small forward for the Storm.

Castro Marques had a split off-season. Initially, she made the decision to take the winter off - a welcome break after years of playing non-stop between the WNBA, her native Brazil and Europe. But when USK Praha offered her the chance to play in the Czech Republic with her Storm teammate Janell Burse, Castro Marques decided to play overseas for about three months.

Playing with Burse "was very fun," said Castro Marques. "That made it easier for me too. I got there, the season had already started, so having someone I already knew was easier for me."

"I got to know Izi better and we got to hang out and go shopping a lot," said Burse. "It was really cool having a teammate from the Storm over there."

When Castro Marques left the team to return to Brazil in February, it was tough for Burse.

"Izi was playing great," she said. "I was upset when she left, but I got over it. She had to go home for good reasons, so I couldn't be mad about it. She was really excited. All we talked about was going back to Seattle to play."

During eight games in Czech League play, Castro Marques averaged 20.3 points per game, shooting 58.4% from the field. She added 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

Ultimately, taking time off proved more useful for Castro Marques.

"It helped me a lot because my body was hurting a little bit," she said. "It has been nine years without a break, so I think that was good for my body. That was the most important thing."

A lanky 6-0, 140, Castro Marques also tried to use the off-season to get bigger, but she remains one of the league's smaller small forwards.

"I just tried to gain some weight, but it didn't work," Castro Marques said. "I tried to lift a lot to try to gain some weight."

That's okay, because what Castro Marques lacks in size, she makes up for in quickness. No player in the WNBA gets from end to end with the basketball more rapidly than Castro Marques, a skill she showed off on Sunday. It was one of the many ways Castro Marques fit right in with the Storm.