DALLAS — The first week of the WNBA season has now passed. As you might expect, many fans and media have already formed their SUPER early opinions after just one or two games. Some of those opinions will turn out to be accurate and some, well, not so much. The Dallas Wings lost their season opener and are without two stars from last year’s playoff team. Even though many may be forming negative opinions of the Wings and they may be down, they are not out.
Certainly, the Wings will experience some lows as they adjust to all the changes from last season. With a new head coach, new system, new players and no Skylar Diggins-Smith indefinitely, it will take a while to build proper chemistry. Head Coach Brian Agler is trying to get a feel for his team and what works or might not work as far as lineups go for the duration of the season. Players are also getting used their new coach and their new teammates, as Allisha Gray explained post-game.
“Just the little things, like towards the end like getting that rebound, fighting hard to steal those balls,” said Gray on what hurt them in the game. “But overall [it is still]our first game together, we’re still learning each other too, because the team is new.”
I think one change that could help build that chemistry more quickly is shifting the starting lineup. The Wings’ game one starters were the only Dallas players who finished with a negative plus/minus. This isn’t something that is an immediate red flag, but it’s at least a yellow one. At the beach, lifeguard stands show flags that signify the conditions of the ocean. Green is low hazard/calm conditions. Purple is dangerous marine life(usually means jellyfish). Yellow is medium hazard/moderate currents and red is high hazard/strong currents. The Dallas Wings are waiving a yellow flag. They need to be in the best position to maximize their potential when they’re on the court.
Reinserting Kayla Thornton into the starting lineup should help fix that issue. She is the best defensive player on the team and can help prevent other teams from getting ahead early. This move would also help Gray’s game. She accepted a bench role in game one and made the most of it by leading the team in scoring with 14 points. It would give her a chance to put that South Carolina chemistry to good use with Kaela Davis, just like Brooke McCarty-Williams and Imani McGee-Stafford are doing from their Texas days.
Former Gamecock has a message for doubters.
The negative chitter chatter about the Wings not being a playoff team and that they should tank for a top pick, might as well stop dead in its tracks. When you have a championship coach and not only a championship coach, but the winningest coach in women’s basketball history, you look to win. Tanking doesn’t exist. He was brought here in part because of his championship experience and knowing what it takes to get to the Finals and win it. He will do what it takes for this team to win and use each of them to their strengths. The level of preparation and the confidence he has in his players has already been praised too many times to count. The unquestioned leader of this team, Skylar Diggins-Smith, will be back in the fold in due time and it’s up to the rest of the team to hold things down until she returns so she won’t be asked to do too much when she is added back to the lineup.
Based off the performance in game one, I was convinced this team has real potential. Which no one should say is an overreaction. You all saw it. They showed they don’t need to be underrated. It’s been something the players themselves have been saying even prior to the season. McCarty-Williams was spark-plug off the bench in the game and ended up playing a team-high 28 minutes. Arike was aggressive as usual, but early foul trouble prevented her from getting in any type of rhythm. Allisha came off the bench for the first time and led the team in scoring in game one. The Dallas Wings are here to compete.