Back to the basics in Dallas: some prescriptions
What are the changes Brian Agler might be considering?
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PALMETTO, FL- AUGUST 6: Moriah Jefferson #4 of the Dallas Wings handles the ball against the Connecticut Sun on August 6, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.
After six games, the Dallas Wings are 2-4. It’s early but it’s not, with this abbreviated 22-game season. Accordingly, Wings head coach Brian Agler had a simple message near the end of his postgame media avail.
“Well I’ll just put it this way, we’ll make some changes going into next game.”
So what needs to change?
In just about every game this season, the Wings have started off slowly, a combination early on of missed shots and lapses on defense.
Arike Ogunbowale has taken notice.
“We have to come out stronger,” Ogunbowale said. “We haven't been coming out well, so definitely just come out stronger.”
The team continues to reiterate that, but what are they doing to make that a reality on the court?
Brian Agler believes it was a combination of championship experience and hunger that helped guide the Sun to their first win.
“I think I mentioned this before the game, but [Connecticut is a] good team that has played a tough schedule,” Agler said. “They made quite a few changes and are a veteran team. You’ve got several on that roster that played in a championship last season and you throw DeWanna Bonner in there, who has won two championships, you are playing against team that is two things: one, very experienced and talented and, probably the most important factor here, it is an intangible thing that is very important, extremely hungry.”
So how does Dallas reach that level? A few ideas:
Changing of the guard
It’s time to consider making Tyasha Harris the starter at point guard. Yes, she is a rookie, but this rookie is ready and Moriah Jefferson just isn’t back to form yet. Harris is a true floor general, both in college and through her first six games in the WNBA. She has also shown the ability to score the ball without hesitation.
She has logged more minutes in half of the Wings games this season than Jefferson has and is usually the one finishing the game at point. Harris leads the team in assists, along with being tied for 10th in assists per game this season with Seattle’s Jordin Canada. Another parallel with Canada: she is the only player in the top 10 in assists, besides Canada, that is coming off the bench.
Jefferson signed a three-year deal that begins at $170,000 in 2020 with full protection, so she’ll be in Dallas for a while, but that doesn’t mean she should be running the show until she’s ready. Making Harris the starting point guard for the remainder of the season is the short-term move if they want to win more games and make the playoffs.
Start them all
Not only should the Wings have Harris in the starting lineup, along with Satou Sabally who is already there, but the starting unit should have all the rookies, including Bella Alarie. Alarie is sixth in the league in blocks per game. She’s only one coming off the bench in the top 10 and the only rookie in the top 10 in blocks.
She isn’t the one filling up the stat sheet, but she is constantly affecting the game on the court in one way or another. Alarie has recorded a positive box plus/minus in every game this season, aside from their latest game against the Sun, the team’s worst overall game this season.
Harris, a true floor general, would be able to get Sabally the looks she wants with her ability to create, as well as being a sneaky good offensive treat. Alarie, a defensive stopper with an excellent skill set at 6’6, would be more involved in the offense in the starting unit and it would open up her ability and opportunity to score the ball. Once Alarie becomes that added offensive threat, it will give Sabally more space on the floor for open jump shots and more chances at receiving passes cutting to the basket.
The new staring lineup should consist of: Harris, Ogunbowale, Sabally, Kayla Thornton and Alarie.
This lineup displays a multitude of things: defensive stoppers in Thornton and Alarie, premier scoring threats in Ogunbowale and Sabally, and the ability to create in Harris.
We’ll see what changes the Wings make ahead of their next game this Saturday against Chennedy Carter and the Atlanta Dream on ESPN2, with the game beginning at 12 PM ET.