By: Jonathan Donville
It is once again time for Dallas Wings basketball.
The Wings open the season Saturday at Noon against the Atlanta Dream in a game that will be broadcast nationally on ABC.
A lot has changed since the Wings last took the floor. Coach Latricia Trammell was chosen to take over as Head Coach, coming over from the Los Angeles Sparks. Trammell earned a reputation as a defensive wizard while with the Sparks and will look to tighten up a defense that finished ninth in defensive rating in 2022.
Helping that cause will be former WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Natasha Howard, who was acquired by the Wings in the offseason. Howard brings three championship rings with her to Dallas and will look to provide veteran savvy on both ends of the court.
Among the returners for the Wings are stalwarts Arike Ogunbowale, Teaira McCowan and Satou Sabally.
Ogunbowale finished tied for third in scoring during the 2022 season (19.7 points) and has never finished outside the top five in scoring in her career. She flashed some exciting pick and roll chemistry with Howard in the preseason and will again be the focal point of the offense for the Wings.
Meanwhile, Sabally and McCowan both return to Dallas after dominant winter seasons overseas. Sabally won the 2023 EuroLeague Championship and will look to stay healthy after an injury riddled 2022 campaign.
McCowan had a stellar winter as well and has been showing off some new skills. After attempting three three-point shots during her first four years in the WNBA, McCowan took two in the preseason, knocking down one of them.
“Coach [Latricia Trammell] isn’t putting me in a box, she’s telling me to shoot it,” said McCowan on Friday. “So you’re definitely going to see it. Not forced though, never forced, it’s only going to be in rhythm.”
Adversity is inevitable in the WNBA which the Wings have already learned, as new acquisition Diamond DeShields is expected to miss extended time with a knee injury.
The Dream enter the 2023 season with a young team looking to take the proverbial next step. They finished the 2022 season in 10th place with a 14-22 record. Atlanta is led by 2022 Rookie of The Year Rhyne Howard who poured in 16.2 points per contest last season.
Atlanta will also be hoping that some familiarity with the Wings will help them on Saturday. The Dream acquired former Wings forward Allisha Gray this offseason. Saturday will be an unusual one for Gray, who begins the season in the same venue where she played the first six seasons of her career.
Further contributing to the familiarity between the two sides is former Wings head coach Vickie Johnson, who is now an assistant with the Dream.
The game will be a contrast of styles, at least by last year’s metrics. Atlanta played at the third highest pace last season, compared to Dallas who played the second slowest.
Coach Trammell noted that defending fast break will be important. “We have been really working on our defensive transition to make sure the ball is picked up early, so that’s going to be a key, especially when they have great rim runners,” said Trammell.
Trammell also emphasized the importance of small details on the defensive end of the floor, namely defending the perimeter against the Dream and not allowing driving lanes to the middle.
“We need to rebound the basketball,” said Trammell.
When asked if she was doing anything special before her first game as the head boss, Trammell said, “I’m going to make a few phone calls when I leave [the practice facility] and it’s going to be those people that have made an impact in my life to get me to where I am today. I’m going to call them and thank them.”
2022 Head to Head Matchup
|71.7||Points Per Game||71.3|
|34.0||Rebounds Per Game||38.0|
|17.0||Assists Per Game||13.3|
|16.0||Turnovers Per Game||21.7|
|4.3||Blocks Per Game||4.3|