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.”
Wings’ Skylar Diggins-Smith Vows to Continue to Fight for Moms
Diggins-Smith, 29, gave birth to her son earlier this year and did not play for the Wings this WNBA season, but was able to collect her full salary. It is worth noting because the WNBA and the players’ union are currently in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, negotiations that Diggins-Smith believes is a time to give the league’s mothers more priority.
“I usually don’t use Twitter as a journal about what I’m thinking; I try not to emotional-tweet,” Diggins-Smith said, according to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel. “But I think that day I had just … I got it off my chest. I’m ready to put some action towards the conditions for working moms in the league and every industry.”
“Sometimes when you’re not being heard, you’ve got to shout,” she said. “I’ve never told the Wings that I didn’t want to play for them next year. I said the conditions of our organization need to be improved. I was very transparent. We haven’t had a conversation about free agency or about coring, because we don’t really know [with the CBA still being negotiated].
Diggins-Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent but says that her recent remarks were not intended to give the impression she wanted to leave the team.
“I’ve been with the organization the longest. I’ve always felt like I’ve shown loyalty to Dallas, so when I’m asking for things, that stuff should be reciprocated. I’m going to continue to fight for this.”
For now, Diggins-Smith is working on a much greater cause.
“I’ve already reached out to a few moms. As we negotiate with the CBA, how can we improve things?” Diggins-Smith said. “It’s about prioritization; we can’t have everything. But I’m going to bring that portion to the table because I’m a mom.”
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Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne Receiving Treatment on Back
Washington Mystics’ superstar Elena Delle Donne is doing her best to return to the court during the WNBA Finals, and is receiving extensive treatment on her back this week, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said.
Game 3 will take place at Connecticut.
“She’s having treatment now. It’s obviously extensive, it’s with our doctors and physical therapists,” Thibault said Thursday. “I talk to her once or twice a day, and I’ve already seen her today. I’m updated fairly regularly.”
Delle Donne injured her knee during Game 2 of the 2018 WNBA Finals against the Seattle Storm, but returned for the last two games of the series, which Washington ended up losing.
Now, Delle Donne’s status for another WNBA Finals Game 3 is uncertain.
“She’s in good spirits,” Mystics’ Natasha Cloud said. “She’s going to be a leader regardless; that’s who she is.
“We have to prepare for Elena to not be in the game. It’s a bonus if she is. We’re extremely hopeful that she will be. But every person, one through 12, has a role on this team and has significance. So we’re extremely capable.”
Regardless, the Mystics know they have to improve their play on the court, with our without Delle Donne.
“We can do some things better; that’s both individual and team pride stuff,” Thibault said. “It’s staying focused on the most important things in order of priority. It’s a little different in preparing for a game like this when you know ahead of time that Elena’s hurt.
“That happened three to four minutes into the game, and it took us a little bit of time to recover from it. Responsibilities change, too. I think we’ll have a better mindset just going into the game of what we need to do.”
Connecticut coach Curt Miller discussed how difficult it is to prepare for Game 3 with Delle Donne’s status up in the air.
“You have to do your due diligence and prepare for both,” Miller said. “They have a system, a schematic way of playing. And they can plug Emma into a lot of the same things they plug Elena into. They can still play big with Hawkins, Emma and LaToya Sanders together. So you still have big lineups to prepare for.
“This longer stretch between [Games] 2 and 3 gives us the mindset that Delle Donne will be back and will play. We go in with the anticipation she will be back.”
Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne Has Herniated Disc
Washington Mystics’ superstar forward and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has a small disk herniation in her back, an MRI revealed on Wednesday.
Delle Donne exited the Mystics’ Game 2 loss to the Connecticut Sun, after only a few minutes, with what was initially described as back spasms.
The Mystics say Delle Donne is currently undergoing treatment, but declined to specify what kind of treatment the reigning MVP would be undergoing.
Game 3 takes place on Sunday, and as of now it is unclear what Delle Donne’s status is for the pivotal Game 3.
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