Adia Barnes – Seattle Storm

Reviewing her WNBA career since being drafted by Sacramento in 1998, Adia Barnes is characteristically frank. “A few years later, you wouldn’t think I’d even be in the league.”

Consider, in her first season Barnes played in every game – starting 16. Since then, she’s watched her playing time diminish as she’s been traded or waived by four different teams. Yet the 2002 season found Barnes in the starting lineup for the Seattle Storm.

“[Storm coach] Linn Dunn gave me an opportunity,” explains Barnes, “and it was a good fit. A lot of why people are successful in the WNBA is the situation they’re in,” notes Barnes. “They used me well.”

In Seattle, Barnes became a specialist. “They were expecting me to shut people down on defense,” she explains. “We didn’t need any other scorer because there was Sue (Bird) and Lauren Jackson. And,” Barnes adds dryly, “they did that very well.”

That she’s persisted speaks to Barnes’ ability to transform herself. At Arizona (Tuscon) she played post. Realizing that 5’11’ wouldn’t cut in the pros, she converted to guard. The transition has been challenging, especially considering the WNBA’s preseason is time coaches focus on building chemistry, teaching plays, and integrating new players. “Working on your skills,” Barnes says with a laugh, “is the least of their concerns. I was years behind.”

Months spent overseas developed both her skills and confidence. “It’s a different mind set,” explains Barnes. “Facing the basket you can do a lot more – it’s exciting. I think my attitude this year,” says 25-year old, “has been, ‘Okay, what’s the worst that could happen? Few women in the world are able to be in this situation. What do I have to lose?'”

Nothing, as it turned out. The Storm surprised everyone by reaching the playoffs in only their third year of existence. Barnes acknowledges that, while there was an enormous pressure on first round pick Bird (“All the hype was true,” says Barnes, “She proved it.”), there was little on the team. “We were picked second to last in the west. No one’s expectations were high.”

Barnes anticipates that will change next season – even taking into account the unexpected resignation of Dunn. “We have a great group of girls, great team chemistry. The players — we make it happen,” says Barnes. “We’ve had a taste of what it’s like and we want more.”

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