Efficient “E”

Erlana Larkins turned around in her chair. She was sitting at her locker following the Indiana Fever’s 78-75 overtime loss to New York on Sunday (Jun. 19). She was asked about her performance and the milestone she had just reached.

“My performance was cool,” Larkins replied with a half smile. “I’m excited to reach another mark in the season but it would’ve been a lot better with a win.”

Not a longwinded answer, but an honest and efficient one.

That’s Larkins. She doesn’t need your attention the same way she doesn’t need to hoist 20 shots a game.

Even her nickname is efficient; five syllables shortened to one simple letter, “E”. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done, that’s “E” to a “T”.

Larkins needed two rebounds heading into Sunday’s game to reach 1,000 for her career. Undersized but overdetermined, she collected 15 boards, a season-high, despite giving up two-to-three inches to each of New York’s post players.

“It’s always tough,” Larkins said about the physical post play. “I just get out there and try to do my thing amongst the trees.”

Larkins is averaging 6.6 points per game and 8.1 rebounds just 13 games into 2016, but she’s shooting at a 67.4 percent clip. She’s 29-for-43 from the field on the season, an average of 2-for-3 from the floor on a nightly basis. For every 2.5 rebounds, Larkins attempts just one shot.

“I just play my role,” Larkins said. “I feel like (my shot) is going to come. We have other options that I view as primary options. I try to get other people going and do my usual.”

At 6-foot-2, Larkins’ quality shot selection is unique. She doesn’t force shots, but she’s a sneaky threat in the post and great at getting to the free-throw line–a place where her efficiency is unmatched this season.

At 93.3 percent (28-for-30) from the charity stripe, Larkins boasts the fourth-best free-throw percentage in the league this season–the best among post players, and she’s taken more attempts than the three players with a higher percentage. She’s also fourth in the league in total rebounds (105).

Larkins cracked 1,000 points earlier this season. This 1,000-rebound milestone is simply another feather in her cap.

“It’s amazing,” Larkins said. “I always knew I was able to play. I had some bumps along the road but to come back and accomplish this is amazing. I’m just grateful.”

Those bumps included a two-year absence from the WNBA. Larkins’ career began in New York in 2008 before being let go in 2010. After she was brought in for a workout in 2012, Indiana general manager Kelly Krauskopf liked what she saw.

“There’s a reason for everything,” Larkins said. “Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen to us. I just came here and worked really hard and I’m here five seasons later. “

Aside from her quiet but effective offensive game, her glass domination and court vision, Larkins is the ultimate example of a great teammate. She genuinely cares about those around her and it makes her selfless game even more special.

“When it’s all said and done, you want people to say that you were a good teammate,” Larkins said. “Not everyone is going to score and be an all-star.

“At some point along the way, there was somebody on a team who was like that for me. I just try to put myself in a spot where I can be that person.”

Whether she’s backing up her team or backing opponents out of the paint, Erlana Larkins simply, efficiently, gets the job done.