Alysha Clark making bid for Storm roster
There aren't many open spots on the Storm's roster, but forward Alysha Clark is doing all she can to make it a tough decision for coach/GM Brian Agler.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Alysha Clark filePosition: Forward.
Height: 5 feet 10.
College: Middle Tennessee State.
Acquired: Signed as a free agent April 25.
Three-pointers: Has family in the Seattle area ... Enjoys cooking ... Two-time Sun Belt player of the year.
The increased intensity of Storm training camp was apparent in Alysha Clark on Friday.
She huffed and puffed as she spoke, redness appeared in her cheeks, and she wiped sweat from her forehead between questions with a reporter.
Clark is playing well at small forward, and so are No. 2 overall draft pick Shekinna Stricklen and Vicky Dunlap, who was picked up in a trade.
"(Storm coach) Brian (Agler) is going to have some tough decisions," veteran guard Katie Smith said of the possible three open spots on the Storm roster.
Three-time MVP Lauren Jackson will not play until after competing with her native Australia in the London Olympics, but the Storm will pay a prorated amount of her $105,500 salary, to keep her active for this season. Agler, who is also the team's general manager, can carry 10 players or add an 11th then cut one after Jackson arrives, as long as he remains within the $878,000 cap. Even though Jackson is being paid a prorated amount based on how many games she plays, the entire salary of $105,500 will count against the cap.
Agler made offseason moves to acquire size and experience on the wing by signing Tina Thompson and Ann Wauters to multiyear deals. But backup roles could be filled by Stricklen, Dunlap and/or Clark, who at 5 feet 10 transitioned from power forward at Middle Tennessee State to the perimeter in the pros. She averaged 27.5 points her senior season and was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year twice.
This is Clark's third attempt at making a WNBA roster. She was cut twice by San Antonio, last year on the final day. She's again viewed as a longshot to make Seattle's 11-player roster. Stricklen, the rookie from Tennessee, will be groomed to be a starter eventually, and is almost certain to make the team.
But Clark, 24, is getting noticed after gaining experience in Israel. Friday she was named to the Eurobasket.com All-Israeli first team and Domestic Player of the Year.
"Now we're really emphasizing execution and you can tell it's coming down to evaluations," Clark said of training camp. Friday was a two-hour session after going for three hours the previous days. "I'm more comfortable (playing small forward) than I was two years ago. I have a little more confidence and my workouts consist of guard work, so I feel a little more at ease where I'm not scared to get the ball. But I know I have a long way to go."
The three veterans in camp — Thompson, Camille Little and Smith — help the newcomers with the plays, tricks on defense and how to make passes within Agler's schemes. On the sideline, assistant coaches Nancy Darsch and Jenny Boucek give pointers. And after practice or on days off, the coaches run the players through individual workouts.
The experience and intelligence of the 10 players in camp have the Storm moving along well despite the absence of Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright, free agent Silvia Dominguez, Jackson, Wauters and Ewelina Kobryn.
Their arrivals simply mean someone will have to go. But the current team will likely remain until after the Storm's exhibition games at Tulsa on Friday and against Los Angeles on May 13 because of the veterans reporting late.
"Strick kind of fits in wherever you need her. Alysha, for her size, her offensive rebounding, scoring on the blocks with both hands — she just works. The same with Vick, she's relentless and is always on the boards," Smith said of the candidates. "It's hard because you get attached to the kids and you really want them to do well and they're playing great. But it's a lot of people. That's why Brian gets paid the big bucks."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans
Information in this article, originally published May 4, 2012, was corrected May 7, 2012. A previous version of this story said the Storm would pay Lauren Jackson her full salary this season. They will pay only a prorated amount, based on how many games she plays.