Brianna Turner is riding the Lightning

It has been a whirlwind year for American Brianna Turner. The Adelaide Lightning import has been a professional player for less than a year and has already experienced action in two different continents.

After being selected eleventh by the Atlanta Dream before being immediately traded to the Phoenix Mercury at April’s WNBA Draft, she would go on to earn WNBA Rookie Team honours. Turner has since focused on tuning her game in the City of Churches.

Eleven games into her Lightning career and Turner’s impact on her new team has been incredible. The 23-year-old is averaging a double-double, with 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds. Add to that nearly 2.2 blocks per game and the Notre Dame alumnus is doing it all.

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Turner’s experience playing in the NCAA for four years and a season in the WNBA has certainly set her up to succeed. However, Turner credits head coach Chris Turner and teammates for her near-seamless transition into the WNBL.

“Chris [Lucas] has been encouraging me to be aggressive. Obviously Adelaide already had a great team before I came in. Playing with Nicole Seekamp and with older veterans like Laura Hodges…I think this team was a really good fit for me, [and] we get along both on and off the court which helps,” said Turner.

The style of the WNBL has also helped facilitate Turner’s transition. Although distinct from the brand of basketball in her home country, there is a dash of familiarity amongst the contrasts that has helped adjust to her surroundings.

“There are some similarities and differences, but I would definitely say that the speed of the [WNBL] game is up there with the WNBA. I feel like in the WNBA we play really fast and here in Adelaide we play fast as well.”

With much of the season still ahead, the Lightning are in the conversation for a spot in the playoffs, currently sitting in fourth place. Although presently a playoff contender, Turner knows much needs to be done to improve and stand out among a competitive field, particularly Adelaide’s defence. Of the top four teams in the WNBL, the Lightning have the most porous defence, allowing 77.6 points per game.

“[We need to] make sure we are getting defensive stops and not allowing our opponents to score over 70 points. And also just making sure we are playing our game and not letting the other team dictate how we play.”

Winning is important to Turner, but there was another huge reason behind her choice to move to Adelaide. As a young professional basketball player, Turner is eager to expand her game and gain a deeper understanding of the art of basketball. She sees Australia as a potent pathway towards her goal.

“In the WNBA Sandy Bondello is my coach and she coaches the Australian National Team, [and] I’ve heard nothing but good things [about the WNBL] which really attracted me,” said Turner.

“I want to raise my basketball IQ and learn the details of the game.”