Wiggins Leads With Confidence, Energy
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Candice Wiggins is caught right in the middle. She's a 25-year-old, fifth-year WNBA player out of Stanford that has a youthful demeanor mixed with a veteran's presence. She lights up the LifeTime Fitness Training Center with her energy but also has the knowledge to take control of a practice filled with rookies and invitees.
She's a combo guard with years of ball ahead of her, and she's already a WNBA champion.
But more than anything, she's a member of the Minnesota Lynx, and she's ready and willing to fill whatever role the team needs as it prepares for the 2012 campaign.
"I've always wanted to lead by example," Wiggins said. "I think everyone can take initiative in what they do, but for me it's energy. Energy comes in many forms, but for me it's about doing everything I can do at the highest level, the best I can."
She's filling a major role this week as the Lynx's starters continue to return from playing overseas. Before forward Maya Moore returned on Wednesday, the majority of the 12 players in camp were either rookies or new additions to the roster. At point guard, Lindsay Whalen is not scheduled to arrive until Friday and veteran Erin Thorn is still learning the Lynx's system.
That's where Wiggins has been so vital. She's controlled the tempo on the court, been there to lend a hand and has spoken up when one of the younger campers needed some guidance. When she takes the ball prior to a half-court drill, she has a look of confidence in her eye—giving everyone around her a feel of assurance that she's going to point them in the right direction.
She's doing it with poise and confidence off the bench. When Thorn joined the team she said the Lynx have a second unit filled with starters, and Wiggins is a prime example of that. Depth is crucial to success in the WNBA, and Wiggins leads a second unit that is ready to take over a game when the starters take a seat.
"Coming in with that second group with Candice all the time, she's always been a leader on the court for me," center Jess Adair said. "She talks you through everything going on. If you're in the wrong spot, she'll get you there. As far as a leader, she always steps up to the plate when she needs to."
Wiggins said it's all about having the right mindset. She said the bench has its own identity and tries to control the game when it has its opportunity. With eight rookies in camp this week—five of which were undrafted—bringing that guidance in the absence of the starters was an important role she filled.
Assistant coach Shelley Patterson said because Wiggins is able to play both the point guard and shooting guard positions, she brings an added dose of leadership to the table. And as the team's most experienced ball handler this week, she's filled that role admirably.
"That pushes her into the leadership role, and it forces her to be vocal," Patterson said.
During her four years with the Lynx she's found her niche within the system. She understands her 3-point shooting is a big part of her game—she shot a career-best 39.5 percent from behind the arc last year—and she also can bring that spark off the bench.
Still, she knows her game is a work in progress herself.
"I'm just a kid," she said, smiling. "I'm still learning, but luckily I've got so many great vets to look up to, to learn more about what it means to be a leader."
She, along with her veteran teammates, are ready to take the lead together and attempt to defend their championship.
"Depth is such an important element in this league. It's such an important element to success," Wiggins said. "We're kind of able to be leaders right now. Our veterans come back, our starters come back and it's great. At the end of the day we know what it means to be a championship team. There are certain elements of practice, and we're really fortunate to learn that last year."
Day 5 Camp Notes
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