Sparks Are Waiting to Put it All Together

The Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA are in fourth place with a record of 3-2 going into Saturday's game against the 1-4 New York Liberty at 7 p.m. at the Staples Center. They have a winning record despite missing two starters and a valuable substitute player. They play another home game on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. against the Washington Mystics.

One of the best overall players in the league, Candace Parker and one of the best defensive players, Alana Beard, along with second year player Maria Vadeeva are missing from the lineup. Because of the play of Chelsea Gray, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike and other players they are still one of the better teams in 12 team league.

Gray is leading the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game and she is also leading the team in assists at 4.4 per game. Nneka Ogwumike is averaging 14.4 points per game along with 10 rebounds per game. Her sister, Chiney is averaging 14 points per game and 7 rebounds

Currently the Connecticut Sun is leading the league at 6-1, followed by the Minnesota Lynx's at 4-2, Washington is 4-2, Sparks are 3-2, Chicago is 3-2, Seattle is 4-3, Indiana is 3-3, Phoenix is 2-3 and Las Vegas is 2-3. Of the three other teams in the league two are 1-4 and one is 0-4.

"The cool thing about this team is everyone is encouraging each other," said Chiney. "Everyone has goals for themselves but you don't have to do things by yourself on this team. I know I have to compete. We have our own culture we are building. We are going to work hard and put on a show."

Chiney, who was traded to the Sparks from Connecticut a few months ago is reunited with her sister, Nneka. They played together in college at Stanford. She loves playing with her all-star sister but she also likes her teammates. "I treat everyone on my team like sisters so it does not matter who is out there."

Playing in Los Angeles can be challenging for some players but Chiney appears to be able to handle the bright lights. "There are a lot of distractions in Los Angeles but this team is not going to be distracted."

Gray is slowly becoming a star point guard in the league and she is ready for the challenge. "I have a bigger responsibility," said Gray a few weeks ago. "It comes with time and knowing the game."

Although it's early in the season Gray likes what she sees in the Sparks. "I think it's good. The first few weeks we are still figuring each other out. It's going to take time. We are good right now but we can be great. Our backbone has to be defense."

Gray also thinks more people are recognizing the WNBA as a legitimate professional basketball league. "I think the league is getting more notoriety," said Gray. "We are getting more people interested in our game and we are seeing more young people come to the game."


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