Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Oct. 4, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I’ll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won’t be featured due to their quick return home. Here’s a conversation with wing Shekinna Stricklen. The No. 2 overall draft pick worked her way into key minutes as the season progressed. She averaged 8.0 points and 4.3 rebounds, playing 31 games off the bench and starting three. During the open-round playoff series against Minnesota, she averaged 17.3 minutes, 6.7 points and 4.3 boards.
Q: You’re going overseas to play in Turkey, where?
Stricklen: I don’t know how to pronounce the name. I think it starts with a ‘B.’
Q: Seriously? So, you’re just hopping a flight and hoping you land in the right spot?
Stricklen: (Laughs), yeah.
Q: How do you feel about your first season overseas?
Stricklen: I’m a little nervous, but I’m really excited. It’s a new experience. Just being over there by myself, I’m a little nervous about that. But I think everything will be all right.
Q: Why did you sign in Turkey?
Stricklen: I trust my agent, Boris Lelchitski. My teammates from Tennessee and friends said it was a pretty good (league). And he (Boris) said it was a good team.
Q: The reason why I ask, too, is because it’s one of the more competitive leagues in Europe, did your competition play a role?
Stricklen: Actually I think this team (Homend Antakya) was looking at me throughout the college season. They’ve been talking to my agent and I’ve been talking to them the last few months through email and stuff, so it seems pretty good.
Q: Storm coach Brian Agler said a lot of your development depends on how dedicated you are overseas, how will you keep your focus?
Stricklen: Overseas will really just be working on defense. Trying to stay focused all the time and just working on my pull-up (jumper). Just working on things I need to get better for next year. I can work on all of that overseas.
Q: Like you said, you’ll be alone, are you good at keeping workouts productive when you’re on your own?
Stricklen: It’s my first time, so…I don’t think I’ll have a drop-off. I’m really committed to this team. This is a great team and everyone is going to come back very committed and much better.
Q: Your trajectory went way up for a rookie season, how was your overall first pro experience?
Stricklen: Great! Especially being in here with the teammates I was with, the veterans. They made my rookie year much easier just being in there practicing everyday and learning something new everyday. From Day 1, they’ve seen how I’ve improved my rookie year. My confidence went up higher and I was able to just help the team out and be more aggressive.
Q: What did you think of the first-round playoff series against Minnesota?
Stricklen: You know, I think it was great. It was a great series. I know a lot of people thought we was getting knocked out in two games and for the series to be as close as it was just shows how hard this team worked and how hard we fought.
Q: What about personally?
Stricklen: You know, it just hit me that it’s like a dream come true — your first playoffs. And just playing with the veterans I was playing with, they know the game very well. They knew the situation and I never did get nervous when the game got close cause I knew, playing with these veterans, they knew when to get stops. And that’s what we did. In that Game 3, we put ourselves in a great position to win that game.
Q: You talked before about needing to grow defensively, what did you like about your growth in that area this season?
Stricklen: Just being aggressive and hustling. Taking charges and getting steals, diving for loose balls. It was something that I really just haven’t exposed during college. It was a totally different game mindset.
*PHOTO CREDIT: Storm rookie Shekinna Stricklen talks to media after a practice by King5.com