Stuck on the bench for most of the last two seasons, Eagle River basketball star Kelsey Griffin hopes a new coach will translate into a new role with the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
Head coach Anne Donovan has said it’s likely the team will use several players at power forward but that Griffin, the former NCAA All-American at the University of Nebraska, would get first crack at making it hers.
“Kelsey has been on the bench biding her time and bouncing between the 3 and the 4, but we’ve got her mind on that 4 and helping us from that position,” Donovan told the Associated Press.
That’s music to the ears of Griffin, who has averaged just 12 minutes of playing time over her last 65 WNBA games as her scoring, rebounding and shooting numbers have declined.
The 6-foot-2 forward was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft. That year she started 19 games and averaged 4.4 points and 4.7 rebounds en route to being named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team.
Then her coached made her change positions and the transition never took. Now Donovan has her back to her more natural position of power forward.
“Going back and forth between positions, I like to call it character building,” she said. “It was difficult. One thing I really appreciate about coach Donovan is her directness. I know her expectations, what she wants and what I’m going to be doing this season.”
Griffin has been an all-star overseas. She was named all-league and helped her team reach the league finals in Hungary two years ago. Last year she was the MVP of the finals after leading her team to a domestic championship in Australia.
Now she feels like she’s in a position to see that success carry over to the WNBA, the best league in the world.
“I’ve found myself again in basketball,” Griffin said. “As a rookie I was trying to figure the league out. The next year I went between the 3 and the 4 and a lot depended on other teams and what players they had. Last year, I really didn’t play except when everyone else was out.
“I’m completely different player than last year.”
Griffin was a star and state champion at Chugiak High. The Sun open their WNBA season Saturday at home against New York.
Van Williams, a 20-year local sports writer and the former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News, writes about the athletic exploits of Alaskans for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. He can be reached at alaskasportshall(at)yahoo.com.