June 22, 2024 

Can the Dallas Wings stay competitive with significant losses?

'We're always talking about control what we can control'

The Dallas Wings have lost their last nine games, tying the second-longest losing streak in team history and trailing only an 11-game streak in 2016. The Wings have suffered significant personnel losses since the beginning of the season, and things have not stopped piling up.

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Prior to the start of the season, the team announced that it would be without the 2023 Most Improved Player, Satou Sabally, until after the Olympic break. There was enough time for the team to prepare for being without her, and they got out to a solid 3-2 start to the season. Now, just one year after making it to the semifinals, further injuries mean the team will have to find a way to right the ship before it is too late to make the playoffs at all.

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The missing pieces

  1. Satou Sabally: Out until after the Olympic break due to a shoulder injury.
  2. Jaylen Brown: Scored 21 points and made a statement during Dallas’ sole preseason game against the Indiana Fever. She played in the home opener but has been out ever since due to an undisclosed illness.
  3. Maddy Siegrist: The forward was having a career season in her second year before she broke her finger on June 17 in the first quarter of the game against the Minnesota Lynx. She scored a team-high 17 points that evening. She underwent successful surgery on June 21 and is estimated to return after the Olympic break.
  4. Natasha Howard: The three-time WNBA champion and Wings veteran played in the home opener, where she broke her foot. The 6’2 forward averages 14 points and 8 rebounds her game. Her return, even with limited minutes, gives Dallas some breathing room.

On top of those extended losses, there have been a couple of scares and day-to-day injuries, notably Arike Ogunbowale battling a sore Achilles. She leads the team in minutes per game, averaging 38.7 per game. The 5’8 guard set a franchise record for minutes played in a game with 50, playing every minute of the Wings and the Phoenix Mercury’s double-overtime meeting. As much as the Wings need her, it is dangerous for the team to push her to the limit while dealing with the injury.

Dallas Wings head coach Latricia Trammell directs her team from the sideline during a regular season game. She's wearing black clothing underneath a dark grey blazer.
Dallas Wings Head Coach Latricia Trammell during the WNBA game between the Dallas Wings and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on June 4, 2023. (Photo Credit: Chris Poss)

Second-year head coach Latricia Trammell said before their game against the Chicago Sky on June 20 that in her 30-year career, she has not seen anything like what Dallas is currently going through.

“I honestly haven’t seen anything like this. We were talking yesterday at shooting practice … and even the players haven’t seen anything like this. It’s one of those things, true adversity, when it comes to sports, we just got that next woman up mentality,” Trammell said.

Dallas had to bring in two players on hardship contracts. Monique Billings was signed for the second game of the season, and the team signed Morgan Bertsch to a hardship contract once Siegrist went down.

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The Wings have spent much of their time on the road, including a five-game road trip. The quick turnarounds and lack of time for rest and recovery are when fatigue becomes a factor. The “next woman up” mentality can be tough to maintain with the lack of bodies. The less seasoned players are getting invaluable minutes that will help the team in the long run, but they have not proven to be enough to compete with their opponents’ first units. Trammell said the team has to continue to control what they can control.

“We’re always talking about ‘control what we can control’ and try to let go of the uncontrollables. It’s all about breathing life into one another. It’s really important because one thing you’ve got to keep up is your locker room, and our players have done an excellent job doing that,” she said.

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Effort is all it will take for Dallas to stay competitive

Wings forward directs traffic while on the basketball court
Dallas Wings forward Natasha Howard (6) reacts during the second half against the Indiana Fever at College Park Center. (Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Dallas is still in the top three in rebounding, averaging 35.7 per game, and is second in offensive rebounding with 10.9 per game. Playing inside out is going to be key to helping the team get through this rough patch. Ogunbowale cannot be relied on as heavily, especially while nursing a sore Achilles.

It is going to take a total team effort. The team will need 6’7 center Teaira McCowan to keep stepping up. She is the team’s fourth leading scorer and second in rebounding, averaging 12.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. After Howard returned to the court on June 20, she said the team would just have to bring the energy to stay competitive.

“For us, it’s bringing the energy from the start and effort, the things we can control and when we do that and do it for the whole fourth quarter, we will be unstoppable,” Howard said.

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Dallas is currently second to last in the standings, just one and a half games in front of the last-place Washington Mystics, with a 3-11 record. The Wings and the Mystics will play back-to-back in Washington on June 22 and 23, which could be a chance for Dallas to end their nearly record-setting nine-game losing streak.

Written by Arie Graham

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

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