After stutter-stepping their way out of the playoffs last year, the Dallas Wings have reloaded this season with new players and new optimism.
Along with three first-round draft picks, Dallas has four other new players that can help take the load off of last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up, Arike Ogunbowale. The dynamic guard lead the team in scoring with a 19.1 per game average, which included putting up a career-high 35 points twice.
No. 2 pick Satou Sabally is already being talked about as a ROY candidate, due to her past professional playing experience in Germany. Bella Alarie, whom the Wings chose fifth and Ty Harris, the seventh pick, are also expected to be big contributors.
Point guard Moriah Jefferson, who had to sit out last season due to injury after being traded to Dallas, will provide immediate relief for Ogunbowale, who took the floor general duties last year though she is a shooting guard.
The Wings also added fourth-year center/forward Astou Ndour, and sophomores Katie Lou Samuelson and Marina Mabrey, who are both guards.
“We have young legs, young players that are ready to learn and we got some shooters and I love it,” Ogunbowale said. “It spaces the floor obviously for me, but they will be able to knock it down anytime; I’m really excited to be able to play with all of them.”
Coach Brian Agler knows there is work ahead, but has confidence in his steady group.
“History in all professional sports has proven that young teams usually don’t have a high level of success,” Agler said. “So it is our job to try to keep everybody focused to stay on an even keel and just try to work through things and keep improving day-to-day.”
Sabally said she has been trying to find different finishes for herself as well as her floater and jump shot. She has been eager to learn in training camp from Agler, who has won two WNBA Championships with two different teams.
“Every comment he makes, every adjustment he makes to my game I am just trying to soak it all in, Sabally said. “Because he has coached great players and I want to be one of those great players that will also eventually have a title one day.”
The team is young, as Ndour and Thornton have the most league experience. Agler said as they move forward, they will keep leaning on their veterans.
“For us to have success this year, some of these young players, our first year and second year players are really going to have to step forward and make a lot of basketball plays for us,” he said.