Clark, who twice led the NCAA in scoring, had a team-high 20 points to lead a depleted Seattle squad to a 76-70 victory at Phoenix in its exhibition finale Sunday.
For reasons not entirely clear, Alysha Clark, who twice led the NCAA in scoring, has suppressed her offensive instincts during her summers in Seattle.
The 2012 Storm training-camp invitee became a mainstay with the team while developing a defensive reputation that makes her laugh in retrospect.
“It’s really weird, because that was never me,” she said. “It took some getting used to the whole defensive-stopper thing.”
Coach Jenny Boucek described Clark, a 5-foot-10, 167-pound forward, as a selfless player who is quick to put the team goals above her own.
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“One of my favorite things about her is she will do whatever it takes,” Boucek said. “She can do a lot of different things, and she is smart enough that she’s going to do whatever our team needs.”
Entering the season, Clark is considered the Storm’s fifth scoring option behind No. 1 overall draft pick Breanna Stewart, reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd, two-time Storm scoring leader Crystal Langhorne and future Hall of Famer Sue Bird.
And yet there are games such as Sunday’s when Clark scored a team-high 20 points to lead a depleted Seattle squad to a 76-70 victory at Phoenix in its exhibition finale.
Stewart and Langhorne didn’t play, and Bird sat out the second half, which allowed Clark — who made 8 of 11 shots, including two three-pointers — a chance to showcase her offensive skills. Her league scoring high is 14 points, and she averaged a career-best 6.9 points last season.
“When I’m at my best I’m slashing, I’m shooting threes and I’m posting up,” said Clark, the former Middle Tennessee State star who led the NCAA in scoring as junior and senior while averaging 27.5 points in 2008-09 and 28.3 in 2009-10. “Just constantly moving and being really aggressive. That’s the mentality I play with overseas. Hopefully I can do a little bit here as well.”
Entering her fifth WNBA season, Clark is wrestling with the idea that she has more to offer the Storm than defense.
The past two years, she averaged 15.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists while leading Maccabi Ashdod to consecutive Israeli League championships. She won two Player of the Year awards.
“I don’t care what level you’re at, winning a championship is hard,” Clark said. “But winning it back to back is even harder. I’m definitely fortunate and thankful for that, because it helped me grow mentally.”
Clark is unsure if she’ll return to Israel and might seek tougher competition in Europe next winter. She also hopes to align her role with the Storm with her dynamic offensive alter ego in Israel.
“I kind of want to bridge the gap a little bit more,” Clark said. “Not necessarily scoring a ton, but being aggressive and being a threat when I’m on the floor here.
“In the past I’ve kind of been OK to not really doing a lot (offensively) and just play defense. But I think for us as a team, I need to be a threat on the floor.”
• The Storm released four players, including 2016 third-round draft pick Lexi Eaton Rydalch, backup point guard Angel Goodrich and reserve centers Quanitra Hollingsworth and Krystal Thomas.
• Newly signed Tiffany Bias, a 5-8 point guard who spent the past three years in Phoenix, and free agent Blake Dietrick are battling for the last spot on the roster. Bias averaged 1.4 points and 5.1 minutes last season. Seattle has 13 players and must reduce the roster to the WNBA limit of 12 by Friday.
• Forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who missed training camp and the exhibition season while playing overseas, is expected to fly to Seattle on Thursday and will be available for Sunday’s season opener at Los Angeles. Forward Jenna O’Hea remains with her European team, Basket Lattes-Montpellier Agglomeration, which advanced to the French Cub championship series. She is questionable for the opener.
• Stewart missed Tuesday’s practice while visiting the White House with the NCAA tournament champion Connecticut women’s basketball team.