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September 9, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Storm 2014 Exit Interviews: Noelle Quinn managed unpredictable playing time


Storm G Noelle Quinn PHOTO: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Series Note: The Storm did not advance to the postseason for the first time since 2003. The team held its exit interviews Aug. 18. This series will feature conversations from the 12-player roster. PG Sue Bird’s conversation was a feature used in the newspaper.

In a new move, the WNBA held the draft lottery four days after Seattle lost its regular-season finale to Phoenix. Seattle (12-22) and Tulsa (12-22) had the best chance to win the No. 1 overall pick, the Storm hitting the lucky number. The draft should be held in April 2015.

In addition to a top-tier pick, should Storm coach and GM Brian Agler choose to keep it, the team could look different. Alisha Valavanis, the organization’s new chief operating officer, is taking a holistic approach to moving the franchise into the next 15 years and that includes on the court.

Here’s a conversation with G Noelle Quinn, who started the opening two games of the season but was juggled around in the rotation as Agler sought to find a spark to begin games, a closer and hot-shooting hand to get Seattle on a winning track. Quinn started five games overall in her second season with the Storm. Her minutes jumped from the mid-20s to not playing at all, however. Quinn averaged 3.8 points and 15.1 minutes — her lowest production since her early seasons in the league.

Quinn, an eight-year pro, is under contract to return to Seattle in 2015.

Seattle Times: Will you return to South Korea and play this WNBA offseason?

Quinn: I’m not signed anywhere. I’m just chillin’. I’ll probably just wait for an opportunity. Right now, I’m not trippin’. I’m just getting some time off. I don’t have to do much. I’ll just be with my family and friends in Cali not doing much.

Q: You’re a normal utility player and that really showed this season in when and where you played. How did you feel about that?

Quinn: It was a challenge having the uncertainty of minutes. At the same time, like I always say, you’ve got to be professional in all of these situations. I am the type of person and player that just kind of rolls with the punches. Wherever the team needs me, wherever I can help, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s kind of how I took this season when I was going through those times. When I had the opportunity, I did what I could and hoped things would work for the best.

Q: Do you think toward the end of the season you adjusted to really being shifted around?

Quinn: There was an adjustment period where I had to figure it out. Toward the end, I figured it out and found a way to get it right and go out there and be comfortable in any situation I was thrown into. My comfort-level got better as I mentally just prepared in a way where I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen. I was more free.

Q: Do you mean not taking it personally?

Quinn: I never took it as personal. I trust Brian, I trust this organization, I trust our coaches and I trust this team. I know things aren’t personal. Basketball is more mental than physical and the more I play, the more I learn that, especially at this level. You can be physically gifted, but mentally, if you’re not tough, it doesn’t mean you’re going to have success. Preparing mentally is key for me as is coming into the gym, working everyday and doing extra. That’s how I take it.

Q: Was there a fun game this season?

Quinn: Overtime against Washington (in June). I remember, personally, I shot two air balls in a row, well, one hit the side of the backboard, and I got it (rebound) and was like, “Whatever.” Then I came back in (the game) and hit a big three and kind of forgot about the air balls after that. But I was still like, “You were trippin’ a little bit.” We were able to win, of course, and KeyArena was awesome. That game sticks out.

Q: Last season, your first in Seattle, was hard, too. How do they compare?

Quinn: Last season was difficult but I felt like we were able to get it done despite our circumstances (finishing at 17-17 to advance to the postseason playing without Bird and Lauren Jackson). A lot of odds were against us but we were in the trenches together, that blue-collar mentality. This year, I felt the same way, but we couldn’t find a way to get it done when we needed to. We were in a lot of games. We were up in a lot of fourth quarters and there were a lot of games we should’ve won and we didn’t. We didn’t find a way to get it done. That was the biggest difference.

Q: Did it affect the team off the court?

Quinn: Absolutely not. Out of all of my years in the league, this organization and this team, I love everybody genuinely. Off the court, I feel like our chemistry is so tight. Genuinely, we want everyone to succeed. It’s very rare to have that in a team and we have that here, last year, too.

Q: Who of your teammates stood out this season?

Quinn: Camille (Little) had a great year. Her role has increased every year. We came into the league at the same time (2007). As a friend, it’s awesome to see her growth and how big of a role she has in this organization. Those (past) days were she’d crash from the top of the key and get all of those rebounds without being a go-to player, she does an excellent job. The new players, Lang (Crystal Langhorne) and Jenna (O’Hea), they all did well coming into a new situation. We didn’t have a lot of practice time and we didn’t have a lot of time to work on our basketball schemes, but those guys did a good job of just settling in and doing what they do best.

Q: Are you watching the playoffs?

Quinn: Hopefully I’m on an island somewhere…just kidding. I will watch when I’m home.

Q: Any predictions?

Quinn: Nah, I just like to enjoy it. What about you?

ST: I’ll watch, for sure. It’s hard to go against Phoenix. I think they’ll win it for sure.

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