Since the beginning of his coaching tenure in Dallas when he was first brought in back in December, head coach Brian Agler has been adamant about building the culture here above all else. It hasn’t been easy for The Wings during a rocky start. But it looks as if his team is finally beginning to establish that culture they’ve been searching for.
Instilling the Wings Culture
Every coach has a different philosophy, different things they’re good at and different things they expect from players. For Agler, it’s been about establishing a culture here from the jump. Everyone wants to win, but teams must know who they are before that can happen. When a coach joins a new team, he or she needs to make the team known for something.
For example, the Minnesota Lynx don’t have this issue because the core of the team has been together for a while with the same coach. Though they have lost stars due to injuries, they’ve kept their coach and their culture along with it. You know it won’t be an easy day when playing against Cheryl Reeve and her Lynx. They know who they are and what they’re best at.
Dallas just so happened to beat that Lynx team this past Sunday at home in the College Park Center. After his introductory press conference in December, Agler mentioned needing to establish that culture in the wake of possibly not having just one, but two all-stars not present to start the season and one who is now not on the roster.
Head Coach @brian_agler discusses the possibility of going through the season without the Wings’ two all-stars @SkyDigg4 & @ecambage #WNBA pic.twitter.com/TFMAK11juK
— Unc (@UncleDrewWNBA) December 18, 2018
The Arike Show
Ever since Arike Ogunbowale came back from a minor ankle injury, the Wings have played through her and it has worked out well. Dallas is 4-2 in their last six games after a rough 0-5 start. In Dallas’ last two losses, it didn’t look good for the Ogunbowale. She averaged 17.5 points on 22.4% shooting from the field and 22.2% from three as well as 1.5 rebounds and 3 assists a game.
In the last two victories, it has been quite the opposite for the young rookie. She has poured in 21 points per game and increased her assist average to 3.5. She has shot much better as well. Arike went 17-29 from the field (58.6%) and 6-of-8 from three (75%) in the victories. In my last piece, I mentioned how Dallas needed to play through Ogunbowale and they have done just that. It has helped inspire this team, because she has handled the pressure so well as a rookie.
Rest of the team stepping up
When this team knows opponents are beginning to key in on her, the rest of the team shines with extra opportunities. Example A: Kayla Thornton going off for seventeen points against the Lynx, as well as a game icing three pointer. Theresa Plaisance contributed in a huge way as well. She added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The original play to win the game against Minnesota looked to be for Arike. But as I mentioned before, the Lynx (and other teams) are keying in on her. Ogunbowale has learned over the last few games how important it is that she get rid of the ball quicker in clogged up and double-team situations. She did just that against the Lynx and was able to dish the ball to Plaisance when in trouble. She then kicked it to Thornton, who was open due to the double-team, and voila!
PUT IT ON ICE❄️❄️❄️ @KBT_5Blessed pic.twitter.com/gwrl43JXPX
— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) June 30, 2019
CEO Greg Bibb is also noticing the change in his team as the season plays on and acknowledging their effort on the court! Afterwards, Agler shines some light on exactly what he’s looking for.
Winning culture, yes! ; but I’m pushing and challenging for championship traits, characteristics, habits and culture throughout….it’s going to happen
— brian agler (@brian_agler) July 2, 2019
Kaela Davis, who is in her third year with the Wings, said “Just wait on it” earlier this season in an interview with W-Insidr when asked about the naysayers thinking they won’t make playoffs and it looks as if the Wings are hitting their stride to get in that playoff race. Check out the reactions all around when Davis took the charge that ultimately helped Dallas get the win.
When it comes to fight and heart, no team in this league has more of it than the Dallas Wings. As the season goes on and they continue to fully establish that identity and culture, it’s going to be a problem for the rest of the league. What’s even scarier though is that the team doesn’t even have its entire roster with Glory Johnson overseas, Moriah Jefferson returning soon and Skylar Diggins-Smith coming back. Look out WNBA, the Wings will only get better from here.