Paris and Wings Clean Up on the Boards

Dallas Wings center Courtney Paris has spent the last two years on top of the league leaderboard in rebounds and it’s her goal in 2016 to remain there.

“I think we can strive to be the best rebounding team in the league,” Paris said. “That’s what we want to do and there is great value in it.”

The seventh-year center out of the University of Oklahoma averaged 10.2 rebounds per game in 2014 and 9.3 in 2015, good enough to earn the WNBA’s “Peak Performer” award in the rebounding category.

“She leads by example,” Wings assistant coach Bridget Pettis said of Paris’s play on the court. “She sets a great example every day coming in and working hard. She has been very consistent in wanting to get better. She comes in and desires to be a better player every year, so that’s where we’ve seen the improvement.”

Paris never averaged more than 4.1 rebounds per game before the 2014 season, which she did twice in 2009, her rookie season, and 2013, her first full season with the Wings organization. Paris credits the hiring of head coach Fred Williams in 2014 for her jump to the top of the leaderboards.

“When Coach Fred took over the job in Tulsa, he talked to me about what my responsibility was,” Paris explained. “I’ve always prided myself in my rebounding ability and it’s something I can really help my team with.

“We like to play fast, and I’m not the typical fast player. But I know that most fast breaks start with the rebound, so I try to remember that while I’m out on the court.”

Pettis, who also joined the team in 2014, saw Paris’s confidence boost in Tulsa, and now in Dallas, as the coaching staff figured out her role on the court.

“I think she just feels comfortable here,” Pettis added. “She feels comfortable with this team and she is getting the confidence with this team to master what it is that she does best.”

The Wings have built a strong core of rebounders around Paris. Forward Glory Johnson ranked in the league’s top ten rebounders in 2013 and 2014, and guard Karima Christmas has placed extra emphasis on offensive rebounds this season in order to extend possessions.

“It’s about coming in aggressive,” Christmas said. “Being aggressive on the boards has been very important. I’ve been getting points off of offensive rebounds. It’s another way I can find my way in there to score.”

Through the first two weeks of the season, Paris stands at third in league leaders with 11.3 boards per game and Christmas at 13th with 6.8. Johnson is expected to return on June 8th vs. Washington after serving a seven-game suspension.

With this group of rebounders, along with guard Odyssey Sims and rookies Aerial Powers and Ruth Hamblin crashing the boards, Pettis believes this could be a one of the best rebounding teams in the league.

“The sky is the limit with this team,” Pettis said. “Every day they come in, they are putting in extra work. They listen and are very focused and committed to their talent. It’s wherever they want to go.”