FRESH from her championship-winning season with Bendigo Spirit, star import Kelsey Griffin is in the best form of her WNBA career back home in the US.
While her Connecticut Sun side is having a horror year, languishing at the bottom of the East Conference ladder, the 26-year-old power forward has emerged as a shining light.
Last weekend, she showed the fight and flair that endeared her to Spirit fans when she made a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Sun lost 66-76 to New York Liberty.
She has reached double figures on the scoreboard four times this month and her efforts have seen some pundits list her as a contender for the league’s most improved player award.
The difference in Griffin’s season statistics speak for themselves.
She started on court in each of the Sun’s first 27 matches this year, up from just six times total in 2012.
And she is averaging 24.4 minutes a game (up from 12.1), scoring 8.3 points (up from 3.1) and pulling in 5.2 rebounds (up from 2.9).
Her performance has her ranked inside the WNBA’s top 20 for offensive rebounds, blocks and steals per turnover.
Griffin, originally from Alaska, arrived in Bendigo last year at a basketball crossroad.
The former college all-star was a first round pick in the 2010 WNBA draft, taken by Minnesota Lynx and immediately traded to the Sun.
Her debut season saw her named in the All-Rookie team of the year, but she later lost her way and spent much of the following two years warming the pine.
She credits Bendigo Spirit and her time in Australia as helping her find herself and regain her love for the sport.
“There was all this time when I was debating whether or not I was a good pro,” she told the Bendigo Advertiser at the time.
“I thought, maybe I’m just meant to be one of those great college players and the professional lifestyle and game isn’t for me.
“But coming here and playing with this team and feeling like I’m playing some of the best basketball I have played against good competition, it’s really been a breath of fresh air.”
A new coach at Sun and subtle changes to the playing roster were other catalysts for her resurgence and she has described herself as “a completely different player than last year”.
Griffin, voted the 2012-13 WNBL grand final MVP, will return to Bendigo in mid to late September after her season with the Sun finishes and will play a crucial role in Spirit’s title defence.