As the Seattle Storm has practiced this week at The Furtado Center, rookie Ashley Walker has had a new focus. Walker is now playing at small forward after splitting her time between the two forward positions during training camp and the early part of the season.
“The reason is she’s 5-11, 6-0 – her future is going to be there,” explained Head Coach Brian Agler. “We have a lot of depth at the post. I just think it’s for the benefit of her career and our situation that she play there.”
“I definitely think in the league I’m not that tall,” agreed Walker, “so I’m a tall guard and a good rebounding guard.”
During the preseason, Walker played at times alongside Camille Little in a versatile lineup where the two forwards were largely interchangeable. She showed the ability to score off the drive from the perimeter, and improved her shooting range over the course of her college career at California, work which is paying off now in the pros. The bigger adjustment for Walker may come at the other end of the floor, where she’ll now be asked to chase players around instead of playing in the paint.
“You have to guard faster players, be able to guard everybody – all the ones, shorter, quick little players,” Walker said. “That’s difficult. I’m a good defender anyways, so it’s not too, too bad, but that’s the most difficult part.”
It was harder for Walker to get comfortable on the wing when she was switching back and forth with the more familiar power forward position. Focusing on playing the three should accelerate that process.
“I definitely have to focus solely on it,” said Walker. “It’s not like you can go back to your comfort zone. You’re always being uncomfortable and have to get used to being in that position all the time.”
The Storm is going to be patient with the transition.
“It just takes time, changing your game at a high level against the best players in the world,” said Agler. “It’s going to take some time, but I think she’s got the right demeanor to make that change.”