Sparks gear up for first back-to-back stanza, seek first road win

Coach Carol Ross explains a concept to Nneka Ogwumike in Thursday’s practice

by Sue Favor

Los Angeles, Calif. – Extreme physicality defined the Los Angeles Sparks’ last practice this morning before hitting the road for the first of three back-to-back game stanzas this season.

The session ended with several scrimmages against a male practice squad, which saw lots of pushing and shoving, players hitting the floor in ball scrambles, and featured plenty of steals. Coach Carol Ross said it was typical of practices all week.

“We’ve been very physical, we’ve continued to build a toughness about ourselves on the defensive end, especially,” she said. “We’re trying to be more aggressive with the offense as well. There’s a lot of things we’re continuing to work on.”

The Sparks left this afternoon for Phoenix, whom they play tomorrow night, before coming back to Los Angeles to take on the Silver Stars Saturday evening. The Sparks have played only three games in three weeks, and they lost their lone road game. Ross said they are focusing only on the game against the 1-3 Mercury right now.

“You start with the first (game) and you really can’t get beyond that one,” she said. “You’re aware of what’s (after) that, but we’ve got to focus on the game in front of us.”

Ross said the fact that it’s a road game is particulary motivating for the Sparks.

“We’ve only been on the road once so far, an we didn’t win, so we’re still searching for that first road win,” Ross said. “That’s probably more driving than who we’re playing, who’s after that, or any of it.”

The length of time between games has been different for the entire team.

“It feels like we’ve been in training camp for four weeks with the week between all of our games,” Ross said.

Guard Alana Beard, who sprained her ankle in Saturday’s game against the Shock, performed rehab on the sidelines while her teammates practiced. Guard Jenna O’Hea also sat out with a strained calf.

Beard is a probable starter for Friday’s game, and O’Hea is day to day.

“If we can get Jenna and Beard healthy and start with a full deck, we’d be off to a great start,” Ross said.


Photo gallery

Alana Beard and Jenna O’Hea rehab while teammates scrimmage