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October 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Storm 2013 Exit Interviews: Forward Noelle Quinn excelled in starting lineup and off the bench

Candice Wiggins, Noelle Quinn

Storm F Noelle Quinn makes a pass
PHOTO: Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press

Series Note: The Storm was swept in the opening-round of the WNBA playoffs by Minnesota on Sept. 22. Game 2 was played at the Tacoma Dome due to a scheduling conflict at the team’s KeyArena court by one of its sponsors, Microsoft. Minnesota went on to win the Western Conference championship as Seattle players dispersed to offseason destinations the following days after holding exit interviews with coaches and the media. This series will feature conversations from the 11-player roster.

The WNBA offseason won’t feel as long given news the league should generate on the business side. The league’s collective-bargaining agreement expired Sept. 30 and a new agreement will need to be in place before free-agency can open as tentatively slated in February. The 2014 WNBA schedule likely will be moved up to accommodate for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Turkey from Sept. 27-Oct. 5.

Storm-wise, the team could remain the same in 2014. Here’s a conversation with wing Noelle Quinn, who was versatile in a season without franchise All-Stars PG Sue Bird (knee) and C Lauren Jackson (hamstring) due to offseason surgeries. Quinn, 28, started as a starter but willingly moved to the bench to help Storm coach Brian Agler create a different look to get wins. Quinn was used more as the season progressed and second-year wing Shekinna Stricklen struggled to play defense and score. Quinn averaged 5.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. She also opened a Twitter account this summer.

Seattle Times: This is a quick turnaround after the Game 2 loss, any insights after a night’s rest?

Quinn: We fought hard and I don’t think we have anything to hang our heads about. We were in the game the whole entire time and it was actually fun. We got to show that we were able to compete with the elite of the league. We have that to build on for next year.

Q: What about you, personally, this season?

Quinn: Coming into a new experience and organization is always hard. I did well with the adjustment and was able to do well because the players here made it easy as well as Brian. Of course I’m my own worst critic, I always think I can do better. But just to get this year under my belt and to have experienced what this organization is about, I’m going to take that into the offseason and work and just bring it next year. The versatility that I have, I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into one specific type of thing. I have to work on everything for myself.

Q: Was there a turning point for you at all this season?

Quinn: I can’t say one specific turning point, but as the season went on, I did feel more and more comfortable just being here and playing with these girls — seeing where I fit in to be successful.

Q: So, Tina Thompson brought up your needing to show your “dog” side. What’s that about?

Quinn: She said I had a dog in me and I need to show it. That’s a matter of me being aggressive and having that fight. That’s something that comes along with playing, in certain situations you have to have that in you. She knows I have that in me and of course it comes out every now and then, but it has to come out more consistently. I don’t think that’s something I can go into the offseason and work on, trying to bring the dog out. I can work on having a consistent aggression and focus.

Q: Were you startled at Tina bringing that up during her post-game, farewell ceremony at KeyArena?

Quinn: Nope, not at all. Me and Tina are very close and we’ve had numerous conversations about basketball and life. I think it’s awesome that she brought it up and that basically everyone knows how she feels.

Q: Since you know you’ll still see Tina around, did you have any somber feelings about Game 2 being her final WNBA matchup after 17 seasons?

Quinn: Yeah, I’ve been playing with Tina for a long time, including overseas. Every year that I’ve played with her, I’ve learned something from her. She’s kind of been my support system and my friend; someone I can look to for advice. Seeing her everyday gave me motivation, so without her, it’s going to be different for me. She’s left her mark, not only on basketball and this league, but on me as a person. I’ll be talking to her all the time and she’s not out of my life, she still going to be around. But it will be different not being able to see her everyday.

Q: A lot of y’all plan to play in Korea, though, right?

Quinn: Yep, it’s going to be a Storm party in Korea. For me, having any type of opportunity to play overseas, I’m so grateful for it.

Q: What’s your outlook on the 2014 WNBA season?

Quinn: I’m very exited about next season. I’ve played with Lauren and Sue before overseas in Russia and they make the game so easy. What we did this year, no one expected us to do. To be able to come back with the core group that we have, next year we’ll be a force to reckon with because we have a year under our belt and we won’t have to go through that adjustment stage as much with things being so new. I’m looking forward to that.

Q: Could it be hard? When Lauren and Sue are on a team, everybody expects a championship. That’s a total reversal of expectations this season.

Quinn: There’s not going to be any pressure. More than anything, it’s going to be fun. They make everyone else around them better and they make things easier. If we come in with the mindset that we did this year — to work and that blue-collar mentality — the “pressure” part of it is out the window. It’ll just be about coming in, working hard and winning games.

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