Sue Chicken believes the Seattle Typhoon are the real definition of a workforce, reaching greater than maximum through running in combination as a unit.
“That’s the thing I love most about this team: Everyone has to play their role and really fulfill that,” Chicken stated.
And this season, two key avid gamers within the Typhoon’s run to the W.N.B.A. finals were guard Jordin Canada and ahead Alysha Clark.
“Both of them do things that nobody on our roster can do, and they have to bring that to the table, to the games night in and night out, for us to be successful,” Chicken stated.
“All of us just try to encourage them to be themselves and kind of shine in that way.”
Because the second-seeded Typhoon take at the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces in a bid for his or her moment name in 3 seasons, Canada and Clark will likely be wanted. In Seattle’s Sport 1 win on Friday, Chicken set a document for assists in a finals sport with 16, and Breanna Stewart led the way in which with 37 issues and 15 rebounds. However Canada helped with ball-handling tasks, and Clark grabbed seven forums.
Their playmaking on each ends of the court docket has helped the Typhoon all season, resulting in an 18-Four common season document and a sweep of the Minnesota Lynx within the playoff semifinals.
In her 9th W.N.B.A. season, Clark is understood for her swarming protection and take hold of capturing. She is the workforce’s third-leading scorer at 10 issues in keeping with sport, at the back of Stewart and Jewell Loyd.
This 12 months, Clark helped the Typhoon lead the league in points allowed per game (76), and she earned all-defensive honors for the second straight season. She was unanimously selected to the all-defensive first team, receiving the maximum 11 votes from the W.N.B.A.’s head coaches.
“I was super proud of the honor of being on this all-defensive team because of where I started as a collegiate post player to kind of having to find my way in this league and finding a way to stick and be different,” said Clark, who played for Middle Tennessee State. “Defense for me was something I had to buy into and commit to.”
A big part of Clark’s development in this area was Tanisha Wright, a former teammate on the Storm. “She was my vet the years I was in that transition,” Clark said. “She poured into me and helped me learn the defensive side of being a guard. And so for me, I took that as a challenge and wanted to be the best that I personally could be.
“For the coaches to recognize my efforts and the work I do on the court — regardless of if it shows up in the stat sheet every night or not — that, for me, speaks volumes.”
Canada has alternated between starting and coming off the bench when Bird — who missed last season with a knee injury — rests or takes games off. A 25-year-old guard, Canada is in her third season out of U.C.L.A., and she started 29 games in place of Bird last season. The Storm finished 18-16, but Canada showed she was more than ready for the spotlight, averaging 9.8 points, 5.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game.
She has subbed for Bird in a more limited capacity this season but when called upon has delivered big: In a game against the Los Angeles Sparks when she started in place of Bird, she had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
“She’s a dynamic player,” Seattle Coach Gary Kloppenburg said. “It’s a luxury to have someone like that who can come in off the bench and change the tempo of a game with her speed and quickness and her defense. She has an ability to pressure opponents and got as quick of hands as anybody I’ve ever coached.
“Her role’s changed this year, but she’s fulfilled it really well and really gives us that depth, that change of pace coming in off the bench.”
Canada said she had learned from playing with Clark. She recalled situations in practice or shootaround when Clark showed the depth of her skill on defense.
“She’ll literally just stop and say, ‘This is what she likes to do, so I’m going to take this away and I need help here.’ Or: ‘I want to stay on her. I don’t want to switch. I want to make sure she doesn’t get to her sweet spot,’” Canada said.
She continued: “It helps me a lot because as a player and as a point guard, I want to be exactly like that — being able to be a defender like A.C. — knowing player tendencies and their strong suits and taking that away. When you have players like that on our team, it helps our team over all.”
Kloppenburg said coaches understand what Clark brings to the table defensively.
“She’s just one of those players: Whoever her assignment is, she’s going to take some things away and make them really work for everything they get,” he said. “I think that ability, combined with good team defense around her, can really cause problems, as it has all year for those really good players we have in our league.”
Clark is a threat on the offensive side of the floor as well, with an ability to knock down open 3-pointers, he said, adding that she had “improved these last couple of years and kind of made herself into a really excellent W.N.B.A. player.”
Loyd called Clark the “heart and soul” of the Storm.
“Numbers don’t lie: She’s defensive player of the year,” Loyd said. “Knowing what she can do every night and what she has been doing every night, it’s remarkable.”
Loyd said Clark was a “defensive specialist” who “knows tendencies, percentages, how you carry yourself.”
“She just wants to do her job,” Loyd said, “but in these playoff series she’s been super vital for us getting to the playoffs and making our run and getting to the finals.”