The Las Vegas Aces have headed into the Bubble in less than ideal circumstances, but that won’t stop them from making a run at the WNBA title.
Jackie Young told the media after practice on Saturday “we came here to win a championship. That’s the main goal, staying healthy, staying focused and getting wins ” and with their roster, even a little short-handed, they’ll be on a lot of teams mind.
Young is excited at the prospect of playing with and learning from new veteran addition Angel McCoughtry, “Angel is great. I used to watch her as a kid, she’ll be a mentor to me, someone I can look up to.”
Head Coach Bill Laimbeer is happy with how McCoughtry has looked early in camp “Angel looks how I expected her to look, very poised, very experienced, and smart. A leader. The whole package you’d expect from a multi all-star and multi Olympian.”
Laimbeer, isn’t measuring success by wins and losses in 2020, instead, he is building for the future, with his core of young players supported by some of the biggest name veterans in the WNBA. “this may happen for us [the championship]this year… we’re a very young basketball team as our nucleus… I think success is bonding as a group and believing in each other.”
The Aces are without two of their stars from their 2019 semi-final making squad, with Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum both out for the season. With three players currently unable to train with the team, Kayla McBridge, Carolyn Swords and Sugar Rodgers, life in the bubble hasn’t gotten off to the smoothest of starts.
“The league is trying the best they can considering the circumstances. We’re down to 8 plays, in training camp you always get bangs and bruises.” but Laimbeer made the assembled media clear that the roster won’t be changing “I don’t anticipate any roster changes, going into the season, we’re a very fine basketball team with a lot of depth”.
Despite the difficulties, Coach Laimbeer is pleased with the start to camp. “So far our energy levels have been high, our player’s came in and focused on learning. Overall it’s been positive from the first two days.”
A’ja Wilson is ready to be a leader on and off the floor this season, but for her, the priority for 2020 is “to be healthy and just make it out, to be here and safe”.
Wilson continued “and also winning, my goal every year that I’ve been playing basketball is be better than last year…we have a chip on our shoulder, yes our team looks a little different but we all have a common goal.”
Wilson has been working throughout the lockdown to improve her game, but she doesn’t expect it to jump out on the stat sheet “I’ve been working on the little things that can go a long way…I definitely see the difference in me, how I play on the court, how I feel on the court, things like moving without the ball.”
A key for the Aces this season according to Wilson is “getting that chemistry and that trust back.”
Wilson is ready to be a vocal leader on the floor like she was at South Carolina and has her teammates backing. “It’s going to take me to be putting myself out there a lot in order for us to get to where we want to be, I’m taking full responsibility, I’ve got my teammates behind me and I’m glad that I can be that leader for that team.”
Jackie young summed up the feeling of the whole basketball community, “Everybody was excited to be back on the court.”