Saturday, August 15, 2020
Page 2

Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray talks new role and developing her game

Allisha Gray tries to outrun Kayla McBride. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.

In her fourth season, 2017 Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray has taken on a new role for the Dallas Wings this season as a reserve guard, rather than a starter. In playing about half the minutes she used to so far this year, Gray has been just as productive, and has emerged as a veteran leader for the youngest team in the WNBA.

The former South Carolina Gamecock standout has begun wearing goggles this season, after being poked in the eye playing for USA Basketball. She is one of only five returning players for Dallas this year, as the franchise had three first-round draft picks and made several trades in the offseason.

Allisha Gray tries to outrun Kayla McBride. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.
Allisha Gray tries to outrun Kayla McBride. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.

I would like to clear something up first. During the first game it was reported that you asked coach Brian Agler to come off of the bench, is that true?

This is how it actually went. I don’t know if his words were twisted but I didn’t actually go to Brian and ask to come off of the bench. We had a conversation about my role on the team, and it led to me coming off the bench because I am a team player, so I will do anything for the team. And if that’s my role is for me to come off of the bench, then I am willing to do that. I said that it allows me to see the floor better and get a feel for the game, and I’m not all nervous when the game tips off. But I never personally went to him and said I wanted to come off of the bench. That is just the role on the team this year.

What have you learned so far in your new role? How have you been able to see the game differently?

It’s good. I can feel the energy of the game. I can feel the vibe of the game. I come into the game to just continue where the team left off. I mean, I come in with calmer nerves, and it allows me to just play my game. I see what we are doing well and what we are not doing so well, and also I can see if the coaches are saying, we don’t need to do this. I will know what mistakes to not make on the court.

With that has your role changed game-to game? Have you had to do things differently according to game plan?

No, I just go in and play my game. I mean I get the feel of the game, and when I go in the game I am more comfortable now, and it allows me to play my game.

Year four as a pro, how would you say you’ve grown and changed?

I’ll say that it has grown a lot. Like, I put in a lot of work this offseason. In the gym five days a week really working on creating shots for myself, and I’ll say I can feel the game better, like the game has slowed down for me. I have a better pace to my game, I can see the floor better and I have a better feel for the game now.

Coach mentioned earlier this week that the momentum does not drop off when you come into the game, what is the key to keeping the energy going in the game?

You are put in the game for a season, to keep the momentum up. So for me personally, when I get in the game, I just try keep the energy going that the team has started and keep the team successful.

Besides the youth of this year’s squad, what you say is different about this Wings team compared to years past?

We have multiple players that can play a bunch of position,s basically all 1-5. We have a lot of shooters. And I feel like it is just a joy to be around everybody, like it’s fun.

How has the team adjusted to the quick turnaround in between games so far in this compact season?

I feel like we have adjusted well I mean, we get our proper rest. Even (over the weekend) in practice its more of a chill practice, going through scouts and stuff like that. So I think we have adjusted well.

I cannot imagine that there is a lot of free time in the bubble, but how do you like to spend yours?

For me I just come into my room and play Xbox or watch movies, for the most part.

I have been hearing about this new skills “bag” that you have. How much of this bag will the fans get to see this season?

You know, whenever it presents itself. If there are certain predicaments in the game and I have to perform certain moves. But what I meant by that is just me being a more improved player than last year. I feel personally, even through the first (few) games, I have looked like a whole new person. I just feel like me having a bag now is just being a brand new player and improving from last season.

Dallas, currently 2-2, plays the Chicago Sky today at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET.

 

Pause for the cause

There have been a lot of injuries for nine days of play. Praying for the safety of players the rest of the way.

No word on Victoria Vivians of the Indiana Fever, who sustained some kind of knee injury in yesterday’s game.

WNBA team news:

The Lynx are navigating the grueling schedule as best they can.

Three takeaways from the Aces’ win over Dallas.

The Mystics are still dominating without three of their stars.

The Sun are off to a slow start despite the brilliance of DeWanna Bonner.

CBS Sports power rankings.

WNBA player news:

Nneka Ogwumike and the WNBA’s big, complicated moment.

Sue Bird has been sidelined with a left knee bone bruise.

What Sabrina Ionescu’s injury means for her rookie season, and for the New York Liberty.

Phoenix’s Bria Hartley is tied for second-highest scorer in the league at the moment.

Brittney Griner is comfortable with the sports world being at the center of social change.

It was Jewell Loyd who encouraged Kyrie Irving to pledge help to those WNBA players sitting out.

How some players balance parenting and playing.

Seimone Augustus podcast.

A’ja Wilson talks life inside the bubble.

Bella Alarie is adjusting to a unique rookie season.

Breanna Stewart and Myisha Hines-Allen are the Western and Eastern Conference players of the week.

WNBA commissioner news:

Cathy Engelbert responds to Kelly Loeffler bashing the league’s support of Black Lives Matter.

Tomorrow’s game schedule:

Wings vs. Sky

Mercury vs. Dream

Sun vs. Storm

College conference news:

The West Coast Conference will adopt “the Russell” rule, as the first conference-wide diversity in hiring commitment.

College player news:

Former Penn State guard Kamaria McDaniel is transferring to Baylor.

College coach news:

Lindsey Hicks is a new assistant coach at Virginia Tech.

Sky hand Mystics their first loss of the season, 88-86

Gabby Williams drives over Aerial Powers to score. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.
Gabby Williams drives over Aerial Powers to score. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.

Bouncing back from a tough loss on Thursday night, the Sky handed the Washington Mystics their first loss of the season two nights later, 88-86.

Chicago saw five players score in double figures, lead by 16 from reserve Gabby Williams. She shot 4-for-5 from the three-point line, after going 0-6 from the arc in the previous game.

Sky coach James Wade said it is something Williams has worked to improve, to enhance her already diverse skill set.

“The fact that she’s so multifaceted that she can play one through four positions, it kind of gives us a different look,” he said. “I think the most interesting thing is that we script the plays and we have to put her a little bit everywhere so she can understand. It’s really good her being able to stretch the floor and being another threat. That kind of threat from her, we were not having last year and having that is big.”

Williams said working on three’s was very deliberate.

“I feel like it was the biggest missing piece to my game,” she said. “When I was overseas, my biggest thing was I was always just afraid to miss so I never shot the ball. Overseas, James [Wade] put me in touch with (trainers). I’ve just found my confidence and I’ve been OK with missing. Last game I was 0-for-6 but I’ve just got to mentally [say] ‘keep shooting, keep shooting’.”

Allie Quigley added 15 points for Chicago, Kahleah Copper scored 14, and Diamond DeShields had 10.

Washington’s Aerial Powers made one of two free throws to tie the game at 84 with 43.2 seconds left before Cheyenne Parker made a layup and Ariel Atkins, who finished with 24 points for the Mystics, hit two free throws. Parker was fouled on a shot but missed the and-one, and the Sky led 88-86 with 5.9 seconds to play. Courtney Vandersloot then stole a pass from Emma Meesseman to seal the win against the defending champions.

“Gabby Williams I thought had a terrific game for them,” Washington coach Mike Thibault said. “She wasn’t a three-point shooter coming into the league, but she’s worked on her game and she made a big difference for them in that regard.”

Thibault said his team was uncharacteristic in their play.

 

“When we move the ball we’re pretty good,” he said.” I thought we got stagnant tonight.”

The Sky have two days off before facing the Dallas Wings on Tuesday.

Giant performances

Today’s results:

Betnijah Laney’s 30 points paced the Dream by the Liberty, 84-78. Rookie Jazmine Jones had 20 points for Atlanta.

Sabrina Ionescu left the game with an ankle injury.

Rookie Satou Sabally’s 23 points and 17 rebounds powered the Wings over the Fever, 76-73.

The Mercury grabbed their first dub of the season with a 102-95 win over the Aces.

Tomorrow’s game schedule:

Lynx vs. Sun

Mystics vs. Sky

Storm vs. Sparks

WNBA team news:

With much to prove, the Storm will get a shot at redemption against the Sparks tomorrow.

The Mystics take us inside the bubble.

The Sky once had three of the all-time best players.

The Sparks are learning to prepare for late night starts.

WNBA player news:

Aces guard Lindsay Allen is quarantined, and didn’t play tonight, after an inconclusive positive coronavirus test.

Diana Taurasi needs to be more aggressive, her coach says.

Teaira McCowan and Candice Dupree are showing increased range on offense.

Bria Hartley could have been the next great USA point guard. Now she plays for France.

Sabrina Ionescu rookie diary.

Ionescu face timed with NBA star Steph Curry after her league debut.

Q&A with Chennedy Carter.

Megan Walker savored her WNBA debut.

Now in training camp, Lauren Cox is working towards her debut.

Stacey Abrams on the power of Black female athletes.

WNBA coach news:

Bill Laimbeer is in a better mood after watching the Aces soar on offense.

Cheryl Reeve has plenty to like after a 2-1 start for the Lynx.

Mercury assistant coach Chasity Melvin opens up about race and gender stigmas.

College player news:

Former Oregon State forward Patricia Morris has transferred to TCU.

UConn players are arriving on campus.

College coach news:

Breonna Taylor’s death hit home for Cincinnati coach Michelle Clark-Heard.

Laura Harper is taking the reins at Coppin State.

Now in training camp, Cox working toward her debut with the Fever

Lauren Cox at her first Indiana Fever practice on July 29. Indiana Fever photo.
Lauren Cox at her first Indiana Fever practice on July 29. Indiana Fever photo.
Lauren Cox at her first Indiana Fever practice on July 29. Indiana Fever photo.

Two practices into her rookie season, Indiana Fever forward Lauren Cox said she is focusing on cardiovascular conditioning and getting back into the rhythm of playing.

“I’m feeling good,” she said. “I’ve got a few practices under my belt and now I’m just trying to get back in shape and get my touch back.”

The former Baylor standout forward made it to the Bradenton, Florida “bubble” this week and stepped on to the court with Indiana for the first time Wednesday, after testing positive for COVID-19 almost a month ago. Cox, drafted No. 3, said fitness, and learning her teammates and a new playing system are top priorities.

“I’ve been able to do everything (recently) except get up and down a basketball court and play pick up. I’ve been trying to stay in shape, but nothing compares to actually getting up and down the court……I’m trying to get some minutes in and get my wind back.”

For the Lady Bears, where Cox and her teammates won a National Championship in 2019, she played for Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey. First-year Fever coach Marianne Stanley also has an extensive coaching resume, but has a much different system. Cox said she is adjusting.

“Getting used to the plays is the biggest thing for me, because for the last four years I’ve run some completely different stuff,” she said. “I’ve got to switch gears and learn the new defenses and the new plays.”

“Then the physicality (of the WNBA) will be the other big (adjustment) for me. It will definitely be hard, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Cox is no stranger to adversity. She was diagnosed with type I diabetes as a small child, and has had to manage the disease with the challenges of being an athlete. During Baylor’s title game, she went down with a knee injury. She returned to play last November and a week later, injured a foot bone. In March the NCAA Tournament was canceled.

But Cox said despite her coronavirus diagnosis, opting out of this season wasn’t a consideration.

“My toughness comes from having diabetes the past 15 years of my life,” she said. “I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles, but I love the game of basketball and I wanted to play this season. I wanted to get this experience as a rookie and see where I was at, talent-wise.”

“Nothing was going to stop me from playing this season.”

Cox said she has had to teach her past coaches and trainers how to help her manage her diabetes for playing, and she expects to do the same with Indiana. She has all of her medical supplies with her.

Last year the Fever drafted center Teaira McCowan, who with Cox should give the team some long-needed paint presence.

“I’m excited to play with T,” Cox said. “I think we’re going to develop some chemistry on the court – maybe get the high-low game developed a bit.”

For right now, however, Cox and Indiana are focused on building on their 1-1 record, as they take on the Dallas Wings tonight. Though she won’t see playing time, she knows her mission.

“Defensively is going to be my biggest role, and then offensively, whatever they need from me, whether it’s…passing inside, scoring from the perimeter, scoring inside, rebounding,” Cox said. “Whatever it is, I’m willing to do it.”

She said she has enjoyed getting to know her new teammates this week.

“I think we have a lot of really good potential,” Cox said. “Last game we really started to click. With each team (we face), we’re going to get better and better.”

The Fever tipoff with the Wings at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

 

 

 

Sky’s late effort isn’t enough, as Lynx prevail 83-81

PALMETTO, FL - JULY 30: Sylvia Fowles shoots and scores against the Sky. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.
PALMETTO, FL – JULY 30: Sylvia Fowles shoots and scores against the Sky. Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images.

Unable to score two layups in the game’s closing seconds, the Chicago Sky lost a hard-fought game to the Minnesota Lynx Thursday, 83-81.

It was the first loss of the season for the Sky, which had previously pulled out two impressive wins. Coach James Wade said he was disappointed that his team had to rely on late-game heroics for a second time after an inconsistent overall effort.

“I appreciated the fight (at game’s end),” Wade said. “I just didn’t think we had to be there. I would have rather had a sense of urgency from the get-go. I know we’re tired, but everybody’s tired. But you just have to dig down. You have to find something where it doesn’t make that togetherness come apart and start thinking on your own.”

Courtney Vandersloot scored 16 points and tallied just 4 assists after dishing 21 dimes over the team’s first two games. Azurá Stevens earned the first double-double of her career, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Her front court mate Cheyenne Parker had a double-double as well, with 16 points, 10 rebounds.

Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Kahleah Copper, who scored 39 points over the team’s first two games, scored just six points against the Lynx. Despite Copper’s impressive offensive start over the weekend, she only took six shots against the Lynx. Wade doesn’t want to put the pressure to score solely on her shoulders, as he believes that moving the ball will create more opportunities for his players to score. Chicago is the best passing team in the league, but only had 18 assists against Minnesota.

“Our team hasn’t really been a team that you’re going to have the same person have fifteen shots a night,” Wade said. “We’ve never been that team since I’ve been here. The ball has to move. I feel like if we trusted the ball to move (Copper) would have gotten more shots, but the ball didn’t move.”

“We only got 18 assists as a team and we settled for a lot of contested jump shots, which we shouldn’t have. The ball has to move, we attack close outs, we skip it, and we move it. I think if we do that you’ll see her probably get more shots.”

The Sky lost the rebounding battle 35-33, and failed to protect the paint, scoring 28 paint points while giving up 36. As the second best three-point shooting team in the league, they went just 6-for-24 from distance. Gabby Williams shot 0-for-6 from behind the arc while sharp shooter Allie Quigley went 1-8.

Chicago was playing their third game in five nights, but Wade didn’t use fatigue as an excuse for the loss.

“We aren’t going to go out and practice like crazy because we can’t, it’s just not smart,” he said. “So, we do a lot of things through film work, walk-through’s and things of that nature. But it’s just tough, but everybody has the same issues, everybody has the same problems. And if we think that this is tough, we’re going to have to do this for 10 straight games where we go we play, we’re off a day, we play, we’re off a day. This is what we signed up for.”

A bright spot on the night was that Vandersloot moved into fifth place on the WNBA’s all-time assist leaders list (1,710), passing Becky Hammon. She saluted those that came before her after the game.

“The players I looked up to are all the ones in that top five,” Vandersloot said. “I looked at the list today, and all those players, incredible point guards. Becky Hammon was so much fun to watch. Obviously coming from Seattle, Sue Bird is somebody that I’ve watched for a really long time and she’s still doing it at such a high level.”

“So, Ticha [Penicheiro] Diana [Taurasi], all of them are just incredible. I looked at the numbers and I was like, ‘I’m never catching them! This might be the only time!’ So, I’m honored to be up on that list. Some of the best players in the world are on that list.”

The Sky have Friday off before taking on the defending WNBA champion Washington Mystics Saturday night.

Tonight’s lesson

Tonight’s games show that the team that is best able to manage workload and stay as rested as possible will increase their chances of success dramatically

Today’s results:

The Mystics pounded the Storm, 89-71.

The Lynx held off the Sky, 83-81.

The Sparks held off the Sun, 81-76.

That means there’s only one unbeaten team left – the Washington Mystics. Surprise!

Tomorrow’s game schedule:

Liberty vs. Dream

Fever vs. Wings

Aces vs. Mercury

WNBA news:

The league will offer health-monitoring rings to players.

The WNBA is keeping the focus on social justice issues.

WNBA player news:

In her 15th season, Seimone Augustus feels secure with the Sparks, has nothing to prove and has plenty in the tank.

Layshia Clarendon on players using their platform to speak about social injustice.

Sabrina Ionescu is already lighting up the WNBA.

An early look at the Wings rookies.

Dee Bonner names the top five young guns in the league.

Q&A with Tiffany Hayes.

WNBA coach news:

Former Sky assistant coach Bridget Pettis heeded the call to feed the hungry.

WNBA GM news:

Dallas GM Greg Bibb calls out Sen. Ted Cruz over an anti-WNBA comment.

NCAA news:

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rules to allow student-athletes to wear patches on their uniforms for commemorative and memorial purposes, as well as to support social justice issues.

College player news:

All 13 Oregon Ducks are on campus for workouts this summer.

Cal transfer Sara Anastasieska will play at Duke.

Penn State senior guard Kamaria McDaniel has entered the transfer portal.

College coach news:

Niele Ivey talks coaching during the pandemic, and social justice.

Georgia Southern coach Anita Howard is recovering from COVID-19.

- Advertisement -