June 28, 2021
Now 8-8 halfway through the season, what can Dallas do to become more consistent?
How defense, depth and rebounding will be the difference makers for the Wings
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The Dallas Wings have had to face a turbulent season. But they’ve managed to break even, currently 8-8 after winning three of their last four games.
First-year Wings coach Vickie Johnson told the media after the 84-75 win against the Washington Mystics on Sunday that the Wings will go as far as guard Arike Ogunbowale takes them. Ogunbowale scored 30 in that in the matchup and had a career-high five steals.
“She is trying to show the world that she can play defense as well,” Johnson said. “This is her team, and she wanted to set the tone.”
Ogunbowale is the leading scorer for the Wings and is the fourth leading scorer in the league averaging 20.3 points per game. Satou Sabally said Ogunbowale’s play is motivating and it does not leave room for the team to make excuses for themselves when she does not take possessions off.
“We all need to do that, we all need to be out there defending and when someone who has a 30 piece gets out there and is getting in passing lanes no one else can have an excuse for being tired,” Sabally said.
Dallas has a chance to improve their .500 win percentage with less than two weeks left before the Olympic break.
The Wings lead the WNBA in rebounding averaging 37.9 per game, which includes a league leading average of offensive rebounds of 10.4 per game. Their offensive rebounding has given Dallas more opportunities to score which has aided them in being the third highest scoring team in the league averaging 84.6 points per game.
Dallas also has the highest scoring bench in the league with an average of 30.4 bench points per game — just over a third of the team’s points per game. The Wings’ depth could be the difference maker for them this season, and Ogunbowale said the their bench is the best in the league.
“We have players on the bench that could be starters on our team and other teams,” Ogunbowale said. “They do what they have to do when they come off the bench, there’s no let down at all when the starters go out.”
Dallas’ second-leading scorer, guard Marina Mabrey, averages 14.8 points per game coming off of the bench. Guard Allisha Gray and forward Isabelle Harrison, who were starters last season, are leaders from the bench. Gray said she knows what she needs to do when she gets on the court.
“I just come in and play my game. I mean I don’t focus on one thing. I’m an all around player so I just do whatever defense gives me but I’m just playing my game,” Gray said.
There have been some tough losses this season, but now that the roster is complete, Dallas can continue to improve on its defense. The Wings have a defensive net rating of 99.8, which is sixth in the league. In three of their eight losses the opposing team scored at least 100 points.
There are five games left to make improvements on defense, but it will not be easy. Their next two games are going to be at home against the Chicago Sky, who have won seven of their last eight games.
In an effort to reduce travel, the WNBA schedule has allowed for two-game series to be played throughout the season. These upcoming matchups against the Sky will be the fourth mini-series for Dallas.
The team has not allowed themselves to be swept in these series, splitting two against the Seattle Storm and the Minnesota Lynx and sweeping the Phoenix Mercury.
Defense, depth and rebounding will be the keys to helping the Wings become more consistent.
They can let their defense dictate their offense and continue to wear teams down with their rotations. Johnson said the players coming off the bench understand the importance of getting stops and how to get out there and execute.
“We have a 12 man roster, and I’m very comfortable playing each individual player at any time,” Johnson said.
Written by Arie Graham
Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.
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