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October 13, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Storm Exit Interviews: The Word from Alysha Clark

AClark12.jpgSeries 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 Alysha Clark. A go-to player at Middle Tennessee State University, Clark has fought for three seasons to make a WNBA roster. She was expected to be a deep reserve with the Storm, and didn’t play a minute during the postseason series against Minnesota. But she was a key piece for Seattle during the regular-season due to injuries to teammates. Clark averaged 10.3 minutes in 23 games.
Q: You’re going back to Israel, what will you work on this offseason?
Clark: Definitely my shot. Tina (Thompson) helped me a lot as far as (shooting in) one motion. Not being herky-jerky, like she calls it. So, just being fluid in my shot. Also ball-handling, being comfortable with the ball in my hands whether it’s coming off a screen or for a pull-up jumper. Those are the main things I’m going to really focus on.
Q: You’ve been working on that since leaving college in 2010, is it still a difficult transition going from a post player at MTSU to a wing in the WNBA?
Clark: Yeah. It’s more of a confidence thing because I’ve been working on ball-handling and shooting, but actually putting it in game situations is completely different. I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t want to mess up or make mistakes. I avoid doing it until I’m comfortable enough with it. I’m going to kinda have to force myself to get past that because that’s going to be the deal-breaker for me whether I can stay in this league or not. Obviously I want to. With the shot thing, I shot when I was a post but it wasn’t the first thought. When I caught it up top, I was like, ‘OK, let me find somebody to pass it to.’ Now, it’s having that mentality of shoot-first from out here. It’s just a mental thing and that’s going to be the hardest part.
Q: Did you see progress over the course of the season?
Clark: I did. In the beginning, I was a little shaky at first. As the season went on and talking to Katie (Smith) and Birdy (Sue Bird) and Tina and Milli (Camille Little), just on different aspects of stuff, they helped plant those seeds in my head to be able to be comfortable with it. (They) gave me that little confidence boost that I needed.

Q: Finally getting to play a full season, what’s an overview?
Clark: It was fun for me. I was glad to finally make it. It was a personal milestone for myself, know that I could actually do it. There was a lot of hesitation where, ‘Oh maybe I’m not cut out for it. Maybe it’s not for me.’ But it was fun. It was a roller-coaster, for sure. Not just transitioning roles on the court, but off the court. I come from where I was the main focal point on offense in college. To come somewhere where you’re the last player on the bench, some people going from those two extremes? They get a bad attitude or become the negative person on the team. For me, you know, I just had to look inside and go, ‘OK, you do what you do. You got here because you worked hard and you have a positive attitude. That’s what you can control.’ I made sure I maintained that throughout the whole season. If I could do it all over again, I’d do the exact same thing because it’s made me a better person, player and a better teammate. To have the group of girls that I had here as my support system through all that? I wouldn’t change it. They were amazing. They really were.
Q: Do you feel that you’re still a bubble player going forward?
Clark: I think so because my game is inside and a lot of coaches are hesitant about whether I can actually fully make that transition. It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to take on and prove that I can do it, and I deserve to be here.
Q: Just in case, do you get to keep the Storm gear?
Clark: (Laughs) Yeah, I get to keep this (sweatsuit). I can put it in my little bag.
Q: What stands out as some highlights this season?
Clark: One of them, for sure, was finally scoring my first WNBA points (June 1 against Tulsa). Overall as a team? Just, I mean, our whole season. How we overcame everything. Seattle is traditionally known to kind of run the course and has always been a tough team. The start that we had, a lot of people, whether it was on media sites or whatever, were like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re 1-7. They’re not as good as they were.’ You’re like, ‘Just wait.’ I said that before, we’re a tough team. And when we got everybody back together? It was exciting to watch us down the stretch. One of the highlights especially were the last two playoff games. My first time being in the playoffs and that’s what I get to experience? That’s about as intense as it gets. I about died over there on the bench. Those are definitely some of them (highlights). Oh, and for sure one of them had to have been when we all got together and had a team dinner when Milli’s parents were here. We played video games and did the little rap star or whatever — hilarious! It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every moment.

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