June 27, 2023 

Why the road is so difficult for the Dallas Wings

How defense, point guard play are critical to a turnaround

The calling card for head coach Latricia Trammell is defense. While there have been flashes of the team locking in on defense, it has not traveled well on the road. So far, the Dallas Wings are in 1-6 in away games and have lost four of their last five games. And the defensive rating for the group away from home is 104.1, ninth among road teams this season, and far below their 99.8 rating at home.

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But Trammell is undeterred by the losing. She takes a positive outlook, and player morale reflects this. The coach has been consistent on how she feels the team can improve. She has maintained the stance throughout this tough stretch is to watching film then execution.

“We just got to go onward and upward, right?”, Trammell told media following Sunday’s 93-83 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. “We’ve just got to continue to enhance the areas that we need to. We’ll go back and watch this because we always like to say film don’t lie, right?”

The floor general

Dallas Wings guard Crystal Dangerfield (11) during the WNBA game between the Dallas Wings and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 04, 2023. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The Wings have played four different starting lineups this season. The team is full of scorers with length that spreads the floor. It is the point guard position that lacks size and consistency. While the 2020 Rookie of the year Crystal Dangerfield was acquired from the New York Liberty; Dallas began the season with second-year player Veronica Burton as the floor general. Both players have unique skillsets. They are strong defensively, but Dangerfield is more dangerous offensively. She contributed in just about every possible way in the second loss in three days against the Los Angeles Sparks: 18 points, five assists, six rebounds and two blocks.

“Night in and night out I am trying to do whatever it takes to win,” Dangerfield said. “Right now, my job is you know trying to figure out how our offense can be a little bit more successful especially late in the game.”

Dallas Wings guard Veronica Burton (12) during the WNBA game between the Dallas Wings and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 04, 2023. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

Burton has not started the last three games and played less than four minutes in the loss against the Sparks on June 25. She may have played her way out of the starting lineup. She has scored a total of five points in the last five games. Trammell said that Burton has been holding her own.

“It’s not a lack of want to,” Trammell said of Burton. “I mean she’s just got to continue to get out of her head and continue to put up shots like she’s doing and it will come.”

Dangerfield has averaged 11.4 point per game in the last five games. What the players lack in size, they contribute in other ways. Burton has a presence defensively, but her limits offensively allow teams to play off of her and take their chances with her getting an open look.

“I’ve always kind of been the pass-first point guard,” Burton told The Next. “Understanding that I am going to be open and I need to make those shots is something that has been known to me. I see it on the film and just being more consistent in that space is big for me.”

Wings shooters shoot

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) shoots during the WNBA game between the Dallas Wings and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 04, 2023. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The scoring for Dallas has been top-heavy, with three players averaging double digits. Guard Arike Ogunbowale is third-leading scorer in the WNBA averaging 22.7 points per game. Forward Satou Sabally is ninth in the league, averaging 18.6 points per game and Natasha Howard averages 16.6 points per game.

When their shots are not falling, the Wings have not been able to tighten up on defense and win all four quarters.

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“We don’t play 40 minutes and that shows, and that’s how we lose the game,” Sabally said. “So I would really just put an emphasis on doing everything right for 40 minutes because we’re in this league and its so good and we will get punished if we don’t execute for the whole game.”

Dallas has a chance to get their second road win of the season against a struggling Phoenix Mercury team on Tuesday night.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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