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.
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.