Happy Sparks Add Chemistry To The Mix


G Laase

Nneka Ogwumike

The Los Angeles Sparks are winning, smiling and laughing on their way to the best record in the WNBA. They are 16-1 at press time and the six new players they signed in the off season have added talent and chemistry to a team that already had some of the best players in the league.

During their 77-67 win over the New York Liberty last Sunday All-Star forward Candace Parker played defense against her own teammate Kristi Toliver during the last few seconds of the game. Now that's having fun. Winning and chemistry can create a fun atmosphere.

"It feels good to see the players smiling and laughing," said first year player Essence Carson. "You should love what you do and do what you love. Everyone is happy right now. What more can you do at this point? We have a lot to be happy about but we also know that the job is just beginning. We are not done yet."

Adding six new players during the off season changed the Sparks dramatically. Evgenila Belyakova, Chelsea Gray, Carson, Ann Walters, Jelena Dubljevic and Whitney Wright bring high level intensity to practices and the games.

The people responsible for signing new players are General Manager Penny Toler and head coach Brian Agler. "Penny gets things done," said Agler last Sunday. "She has done a great job of putting this team together. She has given me an opportunity to travel to Europe and evaluate talent. Penny and I talk daily about how we can make the team better."

Parker knows there is always room for improvement. "We know we have to get better in a lot of areas. We need to be better at offensive rebounding and we can't give up so many offensive rebounds. We have so many good shooters we feel like the ball is going to go in so we don't focus on offensive rebounds."

Jantel Lavender, who is coming off the bench this year after being a starter last year thinks this team is special. "We all love each other so much and that's so important. We have good locker room chemistry. No one is worried about who is getting the credit. We are just happy to be a part of such a wonderful group of people."

The Sparks' next home game is Sunday at 4 p.m. against Washington at Staples Center. That will be their last home game until Sunday, September 4 when they play Indiana because the WNBA is taking a month off for the Summer Olympics. Next week they start a five game road trip that starts in Chicago on Wednesday.


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