Q+A: Skylar Diggins
The rookie PG reflects on the Shock’s spate of OT losses.
by Aaron Fischman / @aaronhartf
Six nights after Skylar Diggins graduated from Notre Dame, she found herself in Atlanta, opening her WNBA career against the Dream. Tulsa’s No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft played nearly 34 minutes and scored 15 points, but made just 4-13 field goals and committed 5 turnovers.
The young Shock, who are coming off a 9-25 campaign last season and have won fewer than 18 percent of their games over the past three years, are off to another slow start. This time, however, three of their first five losses have come in overtime.
“At the end of the day, it’s a loss,” said Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, who was drafted No. 1 overall last year, won last season’s Rookie of the Year Award, and naturally knows a thing or two about growing pains and weathering high expectations. “But when you see that three of those games were in overtime, I think that’s a lot of potential. That’s something you’ve got to look for down, later on the road, because that type of experience early on can really benefit you later as the games get tougher.”
Through Diggins’ first six games, she’s shooting below 28 percent from the field, under 19 percent from beyond the arc and committing more than 4.3 turnovers per game. Saturday night, against the Sparks, Diggins put herself in prime position to upset the Sparks on their home court. She misfired on the shot, however, and the Sparks ultimately outscored the Shock, 10-3, in the overtime period.
It was another devastating loss for the rookie who leads her team in minutes played (35.2 per game) and ranks fifth league-wide. She sat quietly on a locker room bench with a towel draped over her head. Then, she answered some questions from the media. It was clearly difficult for her to speak after the overtime loss.
SLAM: Walk us through the final play of regulation where you nearly hit the game-winner.
Skylar Diggins: It was a screen from the big. Jenn (Jennifer Lacy) had been hitting shots all quarter, and I was basically coming out to look for her and we got the switch. Down to a couple seconds on the clock, I attacked the rim and got the best shot I could. It just didn’t fall.
SLAM: Now, after the third overtime loss in Tulsa’s first six games, how do you conceptualize these close losses?
Diggins: They’re definitely learning experiences. We’ve got to see why it got to that. It should never come down to having to win at the last second or things like that. It’s stuff that we could’ve done throughout the game to make it better, so we just have to look at that.
SLAM: Describe your first win of the season (and as a pro) Friday night.
Diggins: It was great for us. On the road, against a tough Storm team, one of the best crowds in the nation, so for us to even win on the road, that was good.
SLAM: You graduated three weeks ago, and so much has changed, so quickly.
Diggins: Yeah, it’s been a transition, but now that I’m here, [I’m] just trying to continue to get ready for this team. Just get in the gym every day.
SLAM: If you had to pick one, what’s the most surprising aspect about the WNBA or WNBA life?
Diggins: I wouldn’t say anything is really surprising. Everything that people said about the league is true: It’s physical, it’s fast, it’s a learning curve at every position, so it’s what I expected.
SLAM: What kind of pressure do you feel logging these big-time minutes and taking these big-time shots?
Diggins: None at all. I’m just doing what got me here. I’m just trying to be aggressive and be a distributor and a leader and be competitive, and I have a lot of great players on my team. These are tough teams that we’re playing in the league night in and night out, top players in the world, so [I’m] just trying to perform against them. I think our team is pretty much the underdogs. We have that role, so we don’t have a lot of pressure on our team personally.
SLAM: Despite the 1-5 start, do you see growth early on?
Diggins: Absolutely. Every game we play now, we’re battling. We’re battling against these really good teams. We just have to get over this hump in these overtime games and find a way to finish.