After spending seven seasons in the capital city of California, the 2005 season brought a change of scenery for forward Tangela Smith as she relocated across the country to Charlotte.
Drafted by the Monarchs in the second round (12th overall) of the 1998 WNBA Draft, the agile 6-4 Smith spent her time in Sacramento establishing herself as one of the top post players in the league. Coming into the 2005 season, Smith was one of only 14 players in WNBA history to record over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
It was this type of inside presence that the Sting hoped to add to their arsenal when they acquired Smith in a trade on March 3, 2005.
While well-known for offensive prowess, Smith came to Charlotte just looking to help the Sting in any way she could. �Whatever I can do for the team, I want do,� she said. �I�m known for my offense, but I just want to fit in with the team. I just want to strengthen what I�ve been doing in the league and then capitalize off that.�
She also expected her transition from the Monarchs to the Sting to be fairly seamless. �I think it�s going to be easy,� she commented. �I�m a quick learner so whatever the coach throws at me I�m willing to adapt and learn.
Smith�s presence was immediately felt as she posted 10 points and five rebounds for the Sting on opening night. Her performance was a sign of things to come as she one of the most consistent players for Charlotte in 2005.
Over the course of the season, she posted 25 games with 10 or more points and 19 games with five or more rebounds. She also became just the third woman in Sting history to lead the team in scoring averaging 13.6 points. Scoring was not the only category she led the team in however. She also led the team in minutes (34.3 mpg) and steals (1.65 spg).
One of Smith�s best performances of the season came on July 26 as she returned to Sacramento for the first time since being traded. That night she posted her only double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds on 7-of-14 shooting along with a career-high tying six steals.
�I felt good,� she said after the game. �I�m just happy to be able to play the game.�
It was also the first time that Smith played against WNBA All-Star Yolanda Griffith as a member of the opposing team. �Sometimes I guarded her,� she said. �It felt weird. We just had to play the game. We played hard.�
Smith�s good performance in Sacramento was the beginning of a streak that saw the forward record double-figure point totals over the next nine games. It was during this streak that Smith recorded two of her best games of the year scoring a season-high 25 points on two separate occasions , the first on August 2 at Washington and the second on August 9 at Detroit.
�I have to thank my teammates tonight,� she said following the Washington game. �They were the ones who found me and got me in the position for the baskets.�
While Smith was enjoying some of her best performances of the season, the Sting underwent a change on the sideline as Muggsy Bogues took the reins of the team. Bogues immediately noticed Smith�s talent and continued to rely on her to help the team.
�She has some crafty moves inside the post,� said Bogues. �She�s a lanky slasher who loves to get to the basket. She�s one of those players who never gives up. She gets a lot of second-chance baskets, getting the offensive rebound and the put back. She�s definitely a player.�
Unfortunately though Smith�s season ended prematurely as she missed the final three games with a left knee bruise. This ended an impressive streak of 224 consecutive games played.
Now Smith is looking forward to starting a new streak as she returns to the court in 2006 ready to use her talents and skill to help the team experience success.