July 26, 2020 

Dallas Wings’ pairs of former teammates bode well for early chemistry

Former collegiate teammates in Dallas make finding team chemistry that much easier

It’s been a question as to how well the Dallas Wings will fair against the rest of the league with such a young roster, but this team knows each other better than you may think.

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It’s a rare situation in general that you get to play with your former college teammates at the professional level, but even more rare that you have three sets of former teammates on the same team: Tyasha Harris & Allisha Gray from South Carolina, Katie Lou Samuelson & Moriah Jefferson from UCONN, and Marina Mabrey & Arike Ogunbowale from Notre Dame. Those teammates all won a national championship together.

Take that for data.

Dallas Wings. Photo credit: Dallas Wings Twitter account.

Looking at the litany of new faces on the Wings roster, you’d expect chemistry to be an area of focus, which I’m sure it was. Though I’m also quite sure that task will be much easier to accomplish with all these different former teammates together.

“It’s been big,” Harris said on her sense of comfortability early on with Allisha Gray in practice. “I think we all get along really well since we’re so young and we know that. We’re going to try to use that to our advantage. With Lish [Allisha], like I said, she kinda helps me outside of basketball and on the court. When I mess up or anything, she’ll be like ’you’re okay Ty, just keep going’ or like she’ll tell me what Brian likes and what people do and their habits. So, it is comfortable to have her there so she can help string me along.”

Harris and Gray were teammates for a single season in 2017 under WNBA legend and South Carolina Head Coach, Dawn Staley, who led the Gamecocks to their first ever NCAA title.

Had it not been for COVID-19, Harris could’ve gotten herself a second National Championship with how well the Gamecocks were playing heading into the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a huge level to it that brings back comfortability,” Samuelson said on how much more comfortable she is knowing she has a former college teammate with her. “Just makes you feel like, you know, you have some familiarity with it. For me, I’ve really been able to rely on Mo and ask her for help whenever I need it and just feel more comfortable. Like you said, it’s a brand new team, brand new situation for me, but I feel good. I’ve actually played with quite a few players. I’ve played with Arike plenty of times in USA basketball and Astou I played with last summer. So it’s new, but there’s still familiarity with it.”

Jefferson was a senior and Samuelson was a freshman when the duo captured the national title in 2016 with UCONN under NCAA coaching legend, Geno Auriemma.

Like Samuelson stated, she also has playing experience with Astou Ndour from overseas play and with Ogunbowale from USA Basketball. Experiences like these with her teammates, especially at a young age, just continues to speak to how easily this team has the ability to gel with one another.

Looking at it through a bigger scope, it could very much work to the teams advantage regardless of their youth. Experience is the best teacher so most of these ladies are quite familiar with each others’ game already and have that experience playing together.

“I’m really happy because I feel like we got to gel and bond together more than we would have at our respective marketplaces,” Mabrey said on how much more welcoming/relieving it is to be reunited with Arike and how the extra time with the team in the wubble has been. “You’re home so much and you’re not together as much. So I think it’s great we get to spend time together. I’m really happy. I think it’s just a different dynamic. There’s so many young people around me and everyone’s so relatable. Especially having my best friend there too is definitely super comforting and also I’m sure it can be comforting for her too.”

Ogunbowale and Mabrey are the only pair of teammates to play with each other all four years of their college career. In 2018, the duo helped bring home Notre Dame’s second ever National Championship. The first of which came in 2001 and both were under now former Head Coach, Muffet McGraw.

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to this team and this is one of them. Regardless if those championships came in college or not, that chemistry still remains and so does that bond between players. Watching this team develop in 2020 could be even more fun than anyone thought.

Written by Drew Ivery

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