In retrospect, Plenette Pierson said, she might have gone down a different path.
“I feel like I should be in the roller derby,’’ Plenette joked. “But I don’t know. At 35, I might have missed my chance.’’
It was a joke.
But, within it, a kernel of truth. Pierson is about to enter her 15th WNBA season. The 6-2 forward signed with the Lynx during the offseason because she wanted a shot at another title. In a long career — which includes winning two titles in Detroit when current Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was an assistant — she has proven an able scorer, a strong rebounder, a versatile defender.
But ask her what her favorite thing to do is.
“I’m the enforcer,’’ she said, rather proudly. “Any team I’m on, that’s my role.’’
Not an enforcer as in taking dirty shots (though it should be noted that her head coach in Detroit was Bill Laimbeer). Or, at least, too many dirty shots. But she does love contact.
“I love it,’’ she said. “I love to set screens. I love to hit people — in the right manner, legally. I love to get my teammates open.’’
When the team met for the first time before Sunday’s training camp opener, all the new faces on the team had to introduce themselves and say something about their game. Pierson got up and pledged to set screens for her new teammates. Good, crisp, physical picks.
It was a veteran move.
“She said, ‘I’m here to set screens,’ ” Maya Moore said. “I said, ‘Yes, we’ll work together very well.’ ”
It will be more than that, of course. In her career Pierson has averaged 10 points and 4.3 rebounds. She is a physical defender and will be counted on to spell power forward Rebekkah Brunson.
Pierson’s skill as a midrange shooter, coupled with her love of setting crisp screens, makes her a good fit for the Lynx. Not to mention her experience, which should enable her to fit in rather seamlessly on a team looking for a fourth title in seven seasons.
Pierson credited Reeve for much of her development when the two were in Detroit. Reeve said as a young player Pierson came into the league ready for the rough-and-tumble aspect of the game.
“She still loves the rough and tumble,” Reeve said. “But she’s merged that with skill.”
That’s why the Lynx tried so hard to get her this offseason.
“When Plenette was available, we felt that was a skill set that fit,” Reeve said. “Shooting the ball, the pick-and-pop. And we were looking for a defensive matchup with some of our tougher matchups in the post, whether it’s L.A. or players like Candice Dupree [who is with Indiana]. We wanted to make sure we had a person who could fill those roles, roles we felt maybe we struggled with at times.”
Pierson? At 35 she wanted a chance at another taste of a title on a team she has admired for years.
“That was on my mind when I signed to come here, to win a championship,” Pierson said. “The pieces are definitely here. To be able to play with these women who have proven themselves to be able to rise to the occasion — I want to be a part of that. It’s something special.”
Having worked with Reeve in Detroit made the move easier for Pierson, who was a college teammate at Texas Tech of Lynx guard Jia Perkins; the two should be on the floor together a lot this season.
But the biggest draw was an organization that continues to be a viable championship contender.
“Just playing against them, I always admired the way they play, the way they come to work, every day,” Pierson said. “They’re all about business.”
And so is Pierson. The Lynx did a live drill during Monday’s practice, and it didn’t take long to see her toughness come out.
“Everyone was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Seimone Augustus said.