Wings focus on a winning 2016 season, with returning stars, new attitude
The Dallas Wings wrapped up their preseason schedule on Sunday with an 82-74 loss to the Connecticut Sun, bringing their preseason record to 0-2. But assistant coach Ed Baldwin doesn’t think that winless record is a reflection of the team’s progress or mindset during training camp.
“That’s not where we’re at right now,” Baldwin said after Tuesday’s practice, accounting for the absence of guards Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins, forward Karima Christmas, and center Courtney Paris.
“We played without four players who we consider stars in this league,” Baldwin said. “I think that Connecticut played with four of their five starters from last year while we played with one. When you talk about the players we were missing, you’re talking about probably 85 percent of our scoring.”
Christmas and Paris returned this week from international play while Sims and Diggins are expected to start the regular season after missing time last season.
Plenette Pierson, who started 29 games for Tulsa last year, is also hesitant to jump to conclusions after two losses. The veteran forward and 2015 All-Star was the first to pick up some of the slack on Sunday.
“We’ve been in every game that we’ve played so far,” Pierson said. “And even though we’ve lost, we’re minus starters from last year. I think we’re in a good position right now.”
Pierson only played 15 minutes on Sunday, but her five points were part of a 15-3 Wings run to open the game.
“That’s the kind of start we’re always looking for,” Pierson said. “We want to be in your face and be aggressive from the first quarter to the final buzzer.”
It seems that aggressive mindset has spread to second-year guard Brianna Kiesel. Kiesel was part of a lineup that cut a 16-point Connecticut lead to three during a seven-minute run in the fourth quarter.
“We’re a really athletic team,” Kiesel said. “Having Glo (Glory Johnson), AP (Aerial Powers), and myself in at that time, we just really wanted to bring the pressure.”
“They showed a lot of enthusiasm,” Baldwin said of the fourth quarter lineup. “Aerial, Brianna, and Glory came in and really showed us some energy. They had that energy and it got contagious. The crowd got into it and it made for a pretty great run.”
And what about that 15-3 start?
“We would like that every game,” Baldwin reiterated. “But we would like to maintain that too.”
The Wings will build on that aggressive mindset through the last week of training camp, leading up to this weekend’s regular season opener at Indiana on Saturday night, when they plan to have a full lineup available.
“I think the morale is real good,” Baldwin said. “I think the chemistry is real good. Once we get back our players that aren’t here, I think we’ll continue to move forward.”
The Wings home opener is on Saturday, May 21st vs. the San Antonio Stars. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM at the College Park Center.