Thursday, June 14, 2007

Turner Returns With Comets

Barbara Turner is back in Seattle as a member of the Houston Comets. Released by the Storm in the team's final cut, Turner joined the Comets at the start of June and has gotten an opportunity to start two games in the absence of injured WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, averaging 7.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

"Things definitely worked out for the best," Turner said before the Comets practiced Thursday afternoon. "I'm happy with my new team. They've welcomed me with open arms. I feel very comfortable."

"It's great," said Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan. "I think Barbara landed in the perfect spot. Barbara's one who looks to play minutes, and in Houston she's a most-time starter. She's doing a great job for them, so it will be good to see her out there."

The decision to cut Turner and keep Shyra Ely as the backup small forward remains something of a contentious one. While she feels it worked out for the best, Turner expressed regret about skipping Game 7 of her Turkish team's Finals series to return to Storm camp, feeling it was too late by that point for her to beat out Ely. Donovan, for her part, wasn't surprised that Turner got picked elsewhere.

"I was surprised it didn't come sooner, to be honest," she said.

Turner was a fan favorite during her rookie season with the Storm, so it will be interesting to see how she is received by KeyArena tomorrow.

"I'm sure they're going to be very supportive and I'm going to be excited to be in that atmosphere," said Turner, "but once the ball goes up I'm going to be concerned with the game and trying to get a win."

On the Storm side, the big storyline at Thursday's practice was rookie Katie Gearlds, who had a whirlwind trip back to the Midwest. It started with a career game - 17 points and six boards - Tuesday at Chicago. Wednesday, with the Storm visiting Indianapolis, Gearlds had a street named "Katie Gearlds Way" in her honor in her native Beech Grove. Later that day, she played her first regular-season WNBA game at Conseco Fieldhouse but struggled, shooting 1-for-8 from the field.

"She had a great game at Chicago," said Donovan. "We saw the Katie that played throughout most of training camp play in Chicago - very comfortable and confident. Then we go to Indiana and, very much like a rookie, up and down a little bit. You saw a little bit more of her rookie side in the Indiana game."

Gearlds dismissed the notion that her return home had anything to do with the game.

"If anything, there was no pressure," she said. "I was playing in front of people I love in a gym I've played countless number of games in. I've knocked down countless numbers of shots in that gym. It's ten minutes from home, so there was no pressure."

In the context of the discussion about the Storm's zone offense, I asked whether Gearlds felt she missed shots she should have made or whether she could have gotten better looks.

"Some of the shots I took were definitely shots I felt like I should have made," she answered. "We watched the first half and I missed four threes in the first half. Maybe one was kind of sketchy if I should have shot it. Those are shots that I'm going to knock down. I still feel very confident with it."

Gearlds called yesterday's street renaming "nice. There were some people there, some friends and family, some of my old teachers - community members who are high up in Beech Grove, so to speak. It was nice. I got to climb the ladder and cut the ribbon off the street sign. It's definitely something that not a lot of people can say they have."

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