LINCOLN — Kelsey Griffin, not trying to show off, spotted up at the 3-point line after a Connecticut Sun practice last month and started launching attempts from long range.
No big deal, right? That’s exactly what those standing around thought.
Until, that is, they saw the basketball drop neatly through the net. Over and over again.
Count 10-year WNBA veteran forward DeMya Walker as one who had no clue that the 6-foot-2 rookie forward was that versatile.
“I was like, ‘She shoots the 3?’” Walker said. “But it was after practice and she’s knocking 10, 11 down in a row.”
Griffin probably has a few more surprises in store for Walker and the rest of the Sun, considering her rookie season is a little more than a month old.
After being selected third in the league’s April draft following a landmark college career at Nebraska, Griffin has spent the last few weeks adjusting to the WNBA. But she’s beginning to get comfortable. And that only increases her value as an off-the-bench contributor for Connecticut, which sits a half-game behind Atlanta for first place in the Eastern Conference with an 8-4 record
“I’m still finding my way,” Griffin said. “But I’d say it’s going pretty good.”
She averages six points and five rebounds in 19.4 minutes of action a game. Against Phoenix on Sunday, Griffin pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, her second double-digit board total of the season.
But Griffin’s not close to being satisfied. She still holds high standards for herself.
She’s just three months removed from leading Nebraska to its best season in program history, a 32-2 campaign that included a Big 12 regular-season title and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.
Griffin became just the second first-team All-American in NU program history after averaging 20.2 points and 10.4 rebounds as a senior. She was the Big 12 player of the year, too.
“I’m just the type of player who expects a lot,” she said. “I had a successful (college) career, but my freshman year, I know I did struggle a little bit. I just try to keep that in mind. ... But there’s so many expectations when you’re the third overall pick.”
The Sun will likely live with the growing pains for a while.
Griffin is playing mostly on the wing for Connecticut, with occasional interior responsibilities. She’s always had the ability to use her dribble or make long distance shots consistently — but those away-from-the-basket opportunities often opened up mostly because opponents were clogging the lane and keeping her from posting up.
Griffin rarely sets up with her back to the basket anymore, so she has little use for some of her most effective offensive moves. But Walker said Griffin has shown the desire to keep expanding her repertoire.
“She has that hunger,” Walker said. “She’s always going to keep working, always going to keep striving. And Kelsey really understands the game, which helps a lot when you’re trying to get better.”
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