Cappie Pondexter may have not been a fit with the Los Angeles Sparx, who cut ties with her earlier this month, but she is becoming a factor for her new team, the Indiana Fever.
Pondexter, one of the league’s all-time greats, is now on a struggling team, but her influence is having an impact on her teammates, as was the case when Indiana proved to be a tough matchup for the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx.
“We came in the huddle and everyone was slumped,” Indiana forward Natalie Achonwa said. “Cappie was like, ‘It’s a tie game.’ That just got us sitting back up. Just because a couple of possessions go wrong doesn’t mean we’re not engaged.”
“We had the momentum from the start of the game,” Pondexter said. “[The Lynx] were on their heels. Sometimes you have to remind them the game is about runs. You’re going to have good runs and bad runs. You have to remember the momentum is on our side. Small things like that.”
Indiana coach Pokey Chatman, who coached Pondexter with the Chicago Sky from 2015-16, knew what the veteran brought to the table and immediately worked to bring her into the fold.
“Cappie’s an experienced player who knows how to compete at the highest level,” Chatman said. “She knows how to start a game and close out quarters. Just that experience. Having to learn under the lights and learn how to practice. … It’s one thing for me to show them on video after the fact. It’s nice to have someone on the bench speaking the same language, and on the court doing the same things.”
Pondexter has spent enough time in the WNBA to understand the business side of it, as she understood the Sparx’s decision to release her.
“It’s a business at the end of the day,” she said in the visitor’s locker room at Target Center. “If you focus on the past, you can’t really step into future. I’m 13 years in [the league]. I understand it’s a business. I understand the organization had to do what was best for the team. At the same time, this organization had to do the same thing.
“I wasn’t frustrated at all. I was told to trust [Agler], and that’s what I did. It is what it is. Now I’m in Indiana, and when Pokey calls me and plays me, I’m ready. I’m fresh. I didn’t play the first half of the season. … I’ve still got a lot to contribute.”
Indiana has a refocused and re-energized Pondexter moving forward.
“I’m 35 years old,” Pondexter said, “but I’m a 21-year-old at heart.”
Aces’ A’ja Wilson Wins WNBA Rookie of the Year
“It means a lot with that rookie class,” Wilson said. “There are so many great players.”
Although the Aces struggled this season to a 14-20 record, Wilson was a star, and averaged 20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.67 blocked shots and her scoring average was second all time by a WNBA rookie, to Seimone Augustus’ 21.9 PPG rookie campaign back in 2006.
Breanna Stewart Named WNBA Most Valuable Player
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart was named the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player, and she will receive the award later in the day as the Storm host Phoenix in a semifinal series opener at KeyArena.
Stewart has averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks for Seattle this season.
“In this league, I’m playing against however many former national players of the year, and going against the best competition every night,” Stewart said, according to ESPN”S Mechelle Voepel. “And really trying to play my best and show that to everyone.
“We have team goals, and I have individual goals for myself. And being MVP was a goal that I had. I wanted to prepare like this was going to be an MVP-type season. To go out and leave everything on the court.”
“I’m making sure I’m getting enough calories and the right portions, plus just finding healthy snacks, and not having unhealthy snacks in my house. Because if I see them, I’ll eat them.”
Stewart also credits Sue Bird, whom she worked out with, along with Jewell Loyd, following her return from China.
“Sue has played a big factor in it for me,”Stewart said.”I got some guidance in what I should be doing.
“One of the things I talked to Sue about was, ‘If you could have started doing all this with your diet at 23, would you?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, definitely.’ That’s all I need to hear. She’s 37, and still remains the best of the best, and continues to be great.”
Stewart has been on a meteoric rise since coming into the WNBA a few short seasons ago.
“I think part of it is being more prepared for the strength and physicality of this league, and then understanding our system,” Stewart said. “We had a coaching change, but the way we played kind of remained the same. I know where I’m going to get my best opportunities to score.”
Wings’ Liz Cambage Says WNBA Future Uncertain
Dallas Wings’ veteran Liz Cambage is unsure about her future in the WNBA as the Wings closed out the final home game at College Park Center against the Las Vegas Aces this past Friday, as she may not return to the league in 2019.
Cambage is scheduled to represent Australia in the FIBA World Cup before beginning another season overseas in China and will then make a decision regarding her future in the WNBA.
league in 2019.
During an interview Tuesday ahead of Dallas’ matchup against Connecticut, Cambage said a return to the WNBA next season is still up in the air. At the conclusion of the WNBA season, Cambage is scheduled to represent Australia in the FIBA World Cup before beginning another season overseas in China.
“I’ll see how I feel after China,” Cambage said, according to ESPN’s Sean Hurd. “I think I probably have five days at home [in Australia] for the rest of this year, until February next year. We’ll see how I’m feeling.”
Cambage noted the physical toll of an WNBA season may not be worth the investment.
“I’ve said this many times: [The WNBA] doesn’t pay my bills … playing here doesn’t pay my bills,” Cambage said. “We make more money overseas. I’m ready to have next summer off and focus on getting a European contract where its 10 seasons here worth the pay.
“It sucks because I love to be here, I love to put the game out there, I love what comes with playing here. But at the end of the day, for my longevity, I worry about my body, my mind and my soul. I really don’t get paid enough to be beaten up every game. I’m not a WWE wrestler and that’s how it feels sometimes out on the court.”
Cmabage leads the league with 22.8 points per game, and is 2nd in the league with 9.7 rebounds.
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