Fourth-year forward Alysha Clark is suddenly one of the Storm’s veterans, and has been inserted into the starting lineup the past three games. She’s expected to remain for Sunday’s matchup against Phoenix at KeyArena.
The change in Alysha Clark was quickly noticed in the Storm’s season opener June 6. Clark received a pass in the second quarter and, in a fluid motion, drained a three-pointer to increase a lead against Los Angeles.
In past seasons, the shot would’ve had a hitch and likely missed.
Clark was 14 of 57 (24.6 percent) from long range last season. In first-year Storm coach Jenny Boucek’s offense, Clark is 4 for 7 after five games.
Phoenix @ Storm, 6 p.m., KONG
“I’m never going to be a Sue Bird in a pick-and-roll situation, and that’s completely fine with me,” Clark said. “But I wanted to make sure I’m at least comfortable enough to receive a screen. In the past years, I was like, ‘Oh, you’re coming to screen for me? Oh, here take the ball, I don’t want it.’ I needed to make sure I was comfortable enough to make decisions off a pick-and-roll.”
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Boucek has inserted Clark, a 5-foot-10 forward, into the starting lineup the past three games. She’s expected to remain for Sunday’s matchup against Phoenix (2-3) at KeyArena.
The lineup adjustment was more of a request to Boucek by rookie guard Jewell Loyd, who struggled in the role. Boucek said Loyd wanted to get a feel for the game before entering.
Clark handled the transition well, averaging a career-best 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game overall. Her minutes have increased to an average of 21.7 per game.
“She’s just a player you can trust to do whatever you need,” Boucek said. “Right now, she’s discovered who she is as a pro and has become an extremely high-percentage player all the way across the board.”
Clark continued work on her offense while playing another season in Israel. She helped lead Maccabi Ashdod to its second straight Israeli-league title.
However, Clark thought the improved skills might be for use on another WNBA team. The Storm (2-3) began a complete overhaul in January.
The transactions began with coach Brian Agler accepting a similar position with Los Angeles. He had been patient with Clark’s development from a 2012 training-camp invitee to player who started 22 of 34 games in 2014.
After Agler left, center Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen were traded to Connecticut. Then guards Tanisha Wright, Temeka Johnson and Noelle Quinn left via free agency.
Clark was thrust into a leadership role — another attribute Boucek said Clark is handling well to start the season.
“In a matter of like two seconds, I went from one of the young ones on the team to now the old ones,” Clark, 27, said of the roster moves to bring in six players with three or fewer years of WNBA experience. “Having the young kids come and ask me questions … I was just asking Tina (Thompson), Katie (Smith) and Tanisha. To be here in my fourth year and be the vet is really weird. But I’ve just come in with an open mind and embraced it all.”