With an infectious smile and a laugh that could brighten the dimmest of rooms, it was impossible for Wings forward Awak Kuier to contain her excitement for the season lying ahead when speaking to media back in training camp.
“I enjoy coming to work every day. Practice, scrimmages, off the court, this team is special”, she said.
Although it was only training camp, the air encompassing this group was telling as soon as you laid eyes on them. The story it told was one of cohesiveness and the feeling of true sisterhood. No matter who you ask, the answer is evident. This team from top to bottom is invigorated and determined.
During pregame media availability before a matchup with the Washington Mystics on Sunday, I spoke with Kuier to check in on the progress of the team’s chemistry since training camp.
“We have a really good group. I think we all get along. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, I’m always having a good time and that helps with what you said about enjoying coming to work. When people around you are always supporting you and happy and enjoying their time, it makes it super fun to come to work and be around them.”
From the endless amount of TikToks to the synchronized celebratory dance moves from the reserve players, it's clear as day this team rides for one another in a fashion that’s been lacking for quite some time. After speaking with star center Teaira McCowan and asking her what the difference is compared to last season, this much is clear.
“I think we’re just more comfortable this season,” she replied. “We have more structure as well as we know the pieces coming in and out so everyone compliments each other and plays well off of each other. It’s a joy to be here and everyone is on the same page.”
Through trials and tribulations since the season started from veteran forward Diamond DeShields and rookie Lou Lopez Senechal being sidelined indefinitely to losing star center Teaira McCowan for the month of June as she competed for the Turkish national team, the Wings have rebounded each time and came back even stronger. This group is the living definition of mental fortitude. After a 97-84 win over the hobbled Washington Mystics, Wings head coach Latricia Trammell vehemently agrees with this assessment.
“They’ve made my journey and my experience with the Dallas Wings unbelievable”, she said when asked about Kuier’s comments. “This is a team I will never forget. It’s fun to see them together. Yesterday on the bus after practice heading back to the hotel, just listening to their chatter and it was so loud. I remember looking at our assistant GM and telling him to listen to them. That energy is what you want to hear. They’re coming together at the right time and I couldn’t be more honored to be their coach.”
No Mist in DC
Winners of three straight games, Dallas ends their season series against Washington, taking three of the four matchups. In the victory, the Wings boasted six players in double figures.
Perennial All-Star guard Arike Ogunbowale led the team in scoring with 17 points alongside eight assists. The prolific scorer turned all-around threat has been dynamic this season, particularly when it comes to her passing. This was the 14th game where she dished at least five assists.
For the eighth time this season, Teaira McCowan collected a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Natasha Howard added 15 points of her own to go along with five rebounds and two assists.
Starting point guard Crystal Dangerfield has been simply electric this season for Dallas in a myriad of ways. This time is her scoring and that deadly midrange jumper, adding 14 points to the final score. For the first time this season, she has finished with double-digit points in four consecutive outings, averaging 13.2 points.
Rookie Swiss knife Maddy Siegrist is coming into her own and her teammates will let you know about it. A few weeks ago, veteran guard Odyssey Sims’ face lit up as soon as I asked her about her rook. She told me that she’s always in the right place at the right time and that her knack for knowing when to cut to the rim is invaluable at her age and experience level as a professional.
what else is there that i can say about Maddy Siegrist? half of her points coming off hard cuts to the rim and the do-now attitude. her teammates say she’s so fun to play and it’s infectious. she’s carving not only a role herself in Dallas but a place for years to come— christan (no i), ß (@Snacks4Tweets) August 20, 2023
Sunday’s matchup was proof of this yet again as nearly half of her 11 points came via rim runs, representing a release valve for Howard, Sabally, and Ogunbowale who faced numerous double-teams throughout the game. Whether she scored or not, the threat of her moving without the ball is enough for defenses to respect which is monumental for this group’s process, especially coming off the bench.
For the second straight game, Kalani Brown collected nearly as many points as minutes played, if not more, finishing with 12 points in 16 minutes. She also found the time to corral five rebounds and dish out three assists. In the previous game against the Connecticut Sun, Brown had 14 points in 12 minutes. In her last five games, she’s averaging 12 points in just under 17 minutes.
When Satou Sabally is having an off-game scoring the basketball, her strength never wavers. For example, despite only having nine points on 3-of-8 shooting, the fourth-year pro out of Oregon does everything else on the court. She posted six rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals.
Of the team’s 23 assists on the day, Sabally and Ogunbowale are responsible for 18 of them. Believe me when I say this did not get past Trammell’s ever-watchful eye as she’s spoken at length about her star players practicing what she preaches.
“I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’m going to say it again. Those two give up the me for the we every time”, she said. “Even tonight I thought Arike should take a few more shots, you know? I looked at the bench one time and said ‘Oh my gosh, I’m telling her to shoot’ so we brag on those assists. Overall, it says a lot about their growth and what they’re willing to do for this team to win. We always talk about sharing is caring. They are a true example of that.”
The Wings (18-14) wrap up their three-game road trip as they take on the Minnesota Lynx (15-17) on Tuesday.