It was pretty amazing to walk out of the office Thursday and say to a colleague, “see you at the airport.” We are leaving for Charlotte for our first regular season game; it’s been a long and challenging, but fun, road to get here from that day in May when I was announced as the GM and head Coach.
We have our roster down to the league-mandated 13; Bernadette Ngoyisa will be joining us next week. The team is starting to come together and we really look like a team. We had two awesome pre-season games last week, beating the Los Angeles Sparks and then taking down Seattle by a point behind a pair of clutch free-throws in the final seconds by Elaine Powell.
Looking back on our first two games, I thought we had solid contributions from all five players on the court at all times. We really played as a unit for all 40 minutes in each game, which was a key factor to why we emerged victorious. There is always room for improvement, but I thought at times our defense was outstanding. If we can keep up our intensity on the defensive side of the ball, we will be in position to win games this year.
One of the greatest things for our team so far has been the support that the Chicago fans have shown. There is nothing like walking into our home building and being surrounded by our team colors. It gives us a real sense of a home court advantage, which is very important. In my past experiences, I have noticed that Chicago has some of the loudest and most supportive fans in the game. This is something that will add to our home court advantage throughout the year.
The game against Charlotte is something that our whole organization is extremely excited about. The Sting finished last season with the worst record in the WNBA, however we do not expect them to be the same team this year as they were last. Much like us, they are playing in a new arena this year, and have a new coach, so they should be pumped up to get the new season under way. Coaching against Muggsy Bogues will be a challenge, as he will undoubtedly have his team ready to play with the same compassion for the game that he played with during his career in the NBA.
Their first round draft pick Monique Currie ranked 10th in the WNBA in scoring during the preseason. Shutting her down defensively will be critical in the game. No win comes easy in this league. In our inaugural season our first win will definitely not be an easy one. We need to win early to establish a positive mindset. Coming out of the gate hot would be extremely pleasing to me.
Ready. Set. Soar.