A rookie’s first year as a professional athlete mostly is an up-and-down experience. The usual adjustments normally include no longer being a regular and now fighting for meaningful minutes.
Asia Taylor, who started every game for Louisville in her senior season, has, after a stellar training camp, settled in her role as a typical rookie waiting her turn. Other than a DNP-CD (did not play-coach decision) in a June 22 home game, the 6’-1” first-year forward has averaged nearly four minutes of clock in the Lynx’s last six contests.
“I’m part of a team with a lot of veterans,” she told the MSR after Sunday’s Minnesota- Seattle game. “The best thing for me is to stay positive and try to learn as much as I can. I get to learn and enjoy this, and take a little bit from everybody and apply it to my game.”
When asked about adjusting to limited playing time, “It’s different,” admitted Taylor. “I really was counted on more as a leader the last couple of years in college. But here I’m just learning the ropes. The good thing about being a rookie right now is being around so many great players. There’s no pressure on me.”
Natasha Howard, as the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, was originally projected as a backup frontcourt player behind veterans Tamika Catchings, Eriana Larkins and Lynetta Kizer. However, due to Catchings’ sore back, the 6’-3 forward from Florida State was put into the starting lineup.
Her 16-point, 10-rebound debut in Indiana’s season opener in mid-May made her only the second Fever rookie since Catchings in 2002 to post a double-double effort, and her six blocks were the second time in league history that this occurred in a rookie’s debut.
“I thought I was going to be a backup,” says Howard. “There’s a lot on my plate.”
But after a scoreless effort against Minnesota, Indiana Coach Lin Dunn told the MSR that the young player is “struggling with the physicality of the game. [The WNBA] game is 10 times more physical than in college. She’s allowing herself to settle for jumpers instead of attacking the rim,” said the coach.
Seattle forward Angel Robinson also is in her first season in the WNBA, but she’s not a typical rookie – the 6’-5” player played the last four years overseas after graduating from Georgia. “I played in four different countries: Spain for two years, Portugal, France and Ecuador,” said Robinson, who signed a training camp contract with the Storm earlier this year and is the club’s tallest player.
Despite having played pro ball, albeit internationally, “It is still a huge adjustment,” added Robinson. She said she’s now better prepared for life in the W than when she first left college.
“This is the first time she’s played in the league, but she played against all these people overseas somewhere,” noted Seattle Coach Brian Agler. “It’s an easy transition for her. There is no intimidation factor for her. I don’t think she has any glaring weaknesses.”
Finally, Taylor admitted that she sometimes catches herself star-gazing: “It’s still my first year, so I am still in awe of these great players that I watched on TV. But now it’s turning into a competitive thing.”
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