Dallas Wings head coach Fred Williams is going to learn a lot about his team in the next week.
The Wings (1-1), who won their season debut by beating the Atlanta Dream 101-78 at home on Sunday, play their next three games on the road, beginning Wednesday with a visit to the Minnesota Lynx.
“These are all tough places to play at, especially Minnesota,” Williams told the Dallas Morning News. “It will give our young players a good opportunity to get a feel for that.”
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In Minnesota, Williams’ players will encounter an angry foe.
The Lynx (0-1), winners of four of the past seven WNBA titles, lost their season opener to the Los Angeles Sparks, the team Minnesota has faced in the past two WNBA Finals. The Sparks played without star Candace Parker and beat the Lynx 77-76 on a buzzer-beater.
“Unfortunately, our effort and focus wasn’t at the level it needed to be to win against a good team,” Minnesota forward Maya Moore said. “I hate to say that, because those are controllable factors. It’s frustrating, but we can bounce back from that.”
Dallas will be trying to bounce back from its 2017 road woes. The Wings were just 6-11 playing away from home.
“We’ll take it game-by-game. Starting with Minnesota, they have a lot of weapons,” Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith said. “Whatever coach Fred and the staff game plan, we’ll execute.”
The game plan won’t include power forward Glory Johnson, who is out for four weeks with a hamstring injury.
Kayla Thompson started in place of Johnson on Sunday, and rookie Azura Stevens, the No. 6 overall pick out of Connecticut, could see more playing time.
“Even with the plays, I’m not just learning one spot. I’m learning the three, the four, the five,” Stevens said. “Today I had to guard some of their post players. Some games I have to guard wings. So just being able to adjust on the fly and take on different roles during the game.”
On Sunday, Chelsea Gray made an off-balance shot at the buzzer to spoil Minnesota’s championship ceremony.
The Lynx’s 2017 WNBA title banner was hung, and championship rings were passed out prior to the game. After it, Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve wasn’t in a celebratory mood.
“We had so many players out there that had no idea what they were doing for whatever reason,” Reeve said, according to the (St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press. “Maybe they were tired. No idea.”
Minnesota stars Sylvia Fowles (six turnovers) and Maya Moore (11 points on 4-for-14 shooting) struggled.
“They just kept flooding, flooding, flooding and we just botched every opportunity on the inside,” Reeve said.
The Lynx committed 24 turnovers in the loss.
“Whew, let’s not talk about turnovers,” said Fowles, the reigning league MVP.
Moore said her team now will have to prove its mettle.
“It’s a matter of how we respond,” she said. “We gave ourselves, unfortunately, an early opportunity to respond. I’m confident that we will.”