Somewhere inside Shekinna Stricklen is another side of Shekinna Stricklen.
The second-year Seattle Storm forward and coach Brian Agler are working to bring that out of her as the team goes through the early stages of training camp in preparation for the 2013 WNBA season.
Shes a really nice person and you cant be nice all the time in basketball, Agler said. Were trying to get her to maybe have a second personality.
Accomplish that and the 6-2 product of national powerhouse Tennessee could become an even more productive force for Seattle after averaging 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in playing every game of the 2012 campaign.
I just want to be more aggressive. Thats something that (playing in the WNBA) really brought out of me last year, the 22-year-old Stricklen said. In college, I really wasnt that aggressive in driving the ball a lot. This year, thats something Im really going to be focused on.
Neil Enns/Storm Photos
Shekinna Stricklen aims to be more aggressive this season.
"I shot a lot of 3s last year and this year, Im going to try to get to the basket a lot more, she added.
Stricklen was the second overall draft pick in 2012. The Storm acquired that choice from Chicago in exchange for All-Star forward Swin Cash and reserve LeCoe Willingham, both members of Seattles 2010 championship team.
She went through some of the typical rookie-year challenges. But Stricklen, who can play guard or forward, was a part of Aglers rotation from the get-go, averaging 23 minutes per night. In only two of her 37 games (34 regular season, plus the three playoff contests against Minnesota) was she kept off the scoreboard. In 34 of those 37, she grabbed at least one rebound.
In all 37, she learned something more about herself, including one big thing she has brought with her to this years training camp.
Just come out and play the game and dont think so much, Stricklen said.
That shes in her second go-round with the Storm is already making things easier for her; and Agler has noticed.
I think shes a little more comfortable now. Whenever its your first time in training camp, theres always that bundle of nerves youre dealing with, he said. Youre afraid to make mistakes. Now, theres a group of people she knows.
She also knows Aglers system and its emphasis on defense and shes glad of that.
Im looking to score this year some more, but I also want to be a lot better on defense, she said. I want to be a lot more aggressive on defense and help my teammates out more.
Stricklen is eager to show she has found that other side of herself. Shell get a chance on Sunday when the Storm begins preseason play against the Los Angeles Sparks in Long Beach, Calif. Tipoff is at 1 p.m.
Thats a big game for me personally, just to really work on defense and be aggressive from the start, she said.
Aggressive. Theres that word again. So is Agler finding some success in turning this nice person into a meaner, basketball-playing version of herself?
I dont think its so much that, Agler said. Its more or less you have to help them have a sense of urgency. There are certain things on the court, when youre between those lines, where you have to play with an urgency.
Having that kind of mentality is what were really talking about.