Adjusting to a professional life after college can be difficult. Bills now have your name on them, trips to the dining hall are replaced with trips to the grocery store and you cant just skip work like you did with your spring semester elective.
For many WNBA players -- including Skylar Diggins -- the change comes with one other significant caveat: dealing with losing.
Like many players that played for elite college programs, rookies can lose as many or more games in a month in the WNBA than they did in an entire season the year before. In Diggins case, the Shock currently have seven losses. At Notre Dame, Diggins teams lost six games her junior and senior years. Combined.
So, for Diggins, how does she handle the losses?
Well I havent really developed a formula for it because Im not really used to losing too much, Diggins said, able to manage a subtle laugh. But I just try think about the game and play it back in my head. I think about some things that I could have done better.
Introspection like that should help, because the Shock have been the victims of several close losses, including four defeats in overtime.
Its a little redundant. Four overtime games out of eight games, that might be a record, said Diggins before the teams 83-74 win over Chicago on June 20.
Tulsas other win came at Seattle on June 7. Their losses include taking Los Angeles and Phoenix, both considered among the favorites to win the WNBA title, to an extra period and hanging tough with back-to-back Western Conference champions Minnesota.
Moral victories dont show up in the win column, thats what weve been saying, Diggins said.
As in most close games, Diggins says the team is aware that if it werent for a handful of plays that have gone against the Shock, their record could be much different.
With our team, and these overtime games, we just really have to make our own breaks so it doesnt just come down to one or two plays because thats what its been for this team.
As Diggins and the Shock have learned the hard way, there is very little margin for error during a WNBA slate that features no easy games and countless pitfalls along the way. That is another challenging contrast from a college season that may have featured a few games that were relatively easier.
To understand the difference, look no further than the makeup of each teams roster.
Everyone in the league has been All-American or a champion or an Olympian or what have you -- theyre the best players in the world, Diggins said. In college, if we played against Brittney Griner, wed focus most of our attention on Brittney. We played against a team with Maya Moore, so we focused our attention on Maya, but now youre playing against a team that has Maya, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and it keeps going. And you have a team with Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi and the list goes on and on.
Diggins is no stranger to an adjustment period. When she first suited up for Notre Dame, that program was not the powerhouse it is now.
When I first got to Notre Dame it was a similar situation, Diggins noted. We won games but we took our lumps too. Its not going to happen overnight.
Its been a month and were playing better than our record shows. I think down the line this team is going to be really good.
Skylar pointed to a few things -- the team getting more comfortable playing with each other, getting to the free-throw line often and shooting well from 3-point range -- that feeds her optimism.
We just have to keep getting better and if we werent getting better every day I dont think Id be talking like this, Diggins said. Im excited about the future of this team and what we can do, still, in this long season.