Monica Wright Adjusting Well to WNBA
The Lynx veterans begin to show tomorrow. The rookie is ready.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Monica Wright is adjusting to the WNBA in a strange way. After joining the Minnesota Lynx as the number two pick in the draft, Wright finds herself as the best player in training camp, even after her new team remade their roster over the summer. Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins are in town, but are recuperating from surgeries, while Nicky Anosike and Rebekkah Brunson are still playing overseas. Of course, it is all about to change for Wright, as the veterans begin to filter back into town starting Sunday when Lindsay Whalen and Charde Houston will join the mix.
“I know it’s beneficial in terms of learning the plays and learning Coach Reeve’s system,” said Wright. “I would like to get on the court with the veterans so I know what it’s like as far as the level of competition and what level of play they want me to play up to. That’s what I’m missing right now.”
Although Wright is antsy to go against the veterans in camp, Coach Cheryl Reeve does see the positives for her in the short term. With a veteran team, Wright will have the opportunity to come along at a pace comfortable for her, not having to shoulder the burdens that most high picks in the draft feel.
“I’ve seen it both ways,” said Reeve. “Right now, we’d say it’s good. Historically, I think what you see is–and it’s always one of my favorite days–is when the veterans get here. These rookies are puffed up, they’re feeling pretty good, and then the vets come in and kind of knock them down a little bit. That’s always one of my favorite days when that happens. You hope it doesn’t happen to where their confidence is shaken, but it is an “Oh, ok. This is the real deal” kind of thing. Monica has not faced the real deal yet. I’m looking forward to that for her, so that way, we can get some teaching points on video. This is a situation where she’s finding a lot of success in this environment, who she’s playing against and with the guys.”
As the best player on the court for the moment, Wright has a small amount of freedom to make her mistakes now, as she learns a new system and league. Yet, as a perfectionist, Wright also is trying to make mistakes only once, solving any issues she has with adjusting to the system before the veterans arrive.
“I’m trying to make it one-and-done and I’ve got it, but there are certain things that I have to get used to that are, obviously, a lot different than college,” said Wright. “The plan is to make it one-and-done.”
Reeve seems incredibly happy with their choice, as Wright is living up to expectations. During camp, it is common to see Reeve speaking with Wright, but she is not giving instruction. Rather, she is asking the rookie to explain why she stopped the play or what Wright may have done incorrectly. Reeve is putting the onus on the rookie to figure it out herself and she is doing a fine job to this point.
“She’s doing really well,” said Reeve. “Really, I have no complaints. Every time she shoots the ball, I think it has a great chance at going in. When she has the ball in her hands I feel really good that something positive is going to happen. She’s a mature player for a rookie and she understands when she did something wrong. That’s a nice thing. I really haven’t spent a lot of time teaching her, other than a couple things in today’s scrimmage where she’s handling the ball and it’s a one-dribble pickup, which is the ultimate no-no for a guard in this league and then she didn’t do it again. She did it the one time and didn’t do it again. We’ve really spent time with other people as far as instruction.”
With only two weeks until the regular season tips off, Wright shows the eagerness or a rookie. Certainly, she is enjoying the WNBA experience now and the competition is about to get much better with the veterans returning, but she can’t help but look ahead to actual games.
“I’m mostly looking forward to getting out there and working the kinks out, getting the nervousness out and just being on the court and playing,” said Wright. “Game situations are always the best times and they’re fun, so I’m just looking forward to the whole atmosphere. As far as being apprehensive about it, there’s nothing really. I want to be out there, I want to make mistakes, so I can get them out of the way and there’s nothing I’m not looking forward to.”
Step One in her transition to the WNBA is complete and Step Two starts tomorrow. If Wright handles the second phase with the same dedication and energy as she did with the first, she will run out of the gates strongly in two weeks.
“I think she’s adjusting really well,” said Reeve. “I think the problem for her is she’s not playing against the type of players that she’s going to see, so the positive in that is she’s here and she’s confident. Everything is being run through her, so she kind of has her wheels rolling. I think she looks good. Everything that we thought she was going to be, as far as our evaluation, she is. There are a couple rookie things that you expect that you just have to teach her won’t work that maybe worked for her in college. She’s been a sponge and she’s been great and she’s just doing her thing.”
The real transition starts tomorrow since for the first time in a long time, Wright will not be the only great player on the court. Lindsay Whalen and Charde Houston will begin the process of showing the rookie the true WNBA tomorrow, Nicky Anosike and Rebekkah Brunson will be on their way shortly to join in and Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins are still waiting in the wings. The rookie isn’t intimidated, but rather ready to take her lumps, learn and contribute to a team expected to achieve great things.
“I’m just very excited to get on the court with them and learn from them,” said Wright. “They’re a great group, an experience group and a group that I’ve watched play growing up. I’m just excited to be around greatness.”
Minnesota Lynx fans are also excited to be around Monica Wright’s greatness.