Dallas Wings had high expectations for 2024, but injuries have them at bottom of WNBA standings

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Wings were coming off their best season since moving to Texas eight years ago, with their most wins since the franchise’s last WNBA title in 2008 when they were in Detroit.

Six of the top seven scorers were returning, including All-Star players Satou Sabally and Arike Ogunbowale and standout defender Natasha Howard. There was certainly every reason to believe that this season could be even better for Dallas.

Instead, the injury-plagued Wings (4-15) are tied with Washington for the worst record in the 12-team league. Sabally injured her shoulder in an Olympic qualifier in February and hasn’t yet played for them this season, Howard missed 12 games with a broken foot and flourishing second-year guard Maddy Siegrist broke her left index finger two weeks ago

“Search for a different word to use, but there isn’t really a better one than disappointing,” Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb said. “Last year was our best year, another step in our build. Top-four finish, semifinalist, basically having the core of the team back coming into this year. We had high expectations for what 2024 could be. By the way, I’ll say 2024 is not over. There’s still a lot of games to play.”

Just short of the halfway point of the regular season, Dallas has lost 13 of its past 14 games. The Wings snapped on 11-game losing streak with a 94-88 win at home last Thursday over Commissioner’s Cup champ Minnesota before losing twice in three nights at Seattle, including 95-71 on Monday.

“It’s definitely tough. You can’t control what happens with injuries,” said Ogunbowale, who has had at least 20 points in 16 of her 18 games this season. “We just have to keep fighting through, and we have what it takes to be a good team. …. We’re just going to keep adding people back and keep getting better.”

There are six games remaining over the next two weeks before the month-long Olympic break, then 15 games after that to wrap up the regular season.

“We’re starting to get, hopefully, people back after the break. I never loved seeing an Olympic break, but it’s really going to be beneficial for our team,” second-year Wings coach Latricia Trammell said. “It’s been challenging, of course. But we’re trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sabally is expected to play for her home country when the German women’s team makes its Olympics debut in Paris at the end of this month. The Wings hope to have her back after that, and Siegrist could also be close to a return by then.

In the meantime, Bibb said the team needs to stay within striking distance of a playoff berth — eight of the league’s 12 teams make the postseason. He likes his team’s chances of making another run if everyone is healthy.

“We have time to still collect some wins to still be in that run for the playoffs,” Howard said. “When the break comes, that’s when everybody can actually recharge their battery and relax, then come back and be ready to rock and roll for the second half of the season. That’ll be good that we’re going to have Maddy and Satou back.”

Dallas’ 22 wins last season were the most for the franchise since a 22-12 record in 2008, when the Shock won their third WNBA championship in a six-season span, all with coach Bill Laimbeer. The Wings won both games in their first-round playoff series against Atlanta last year before a three-game sweep in the WNBA semifinals by Las Vegas, which went on to win its second consecutive title.

The franchise’s first 12 seasons were in Detroit, before the team moved to Tulsa in 2010 and then to North Texas in 2016. The Wings have since played their home games on the UT-Arlington campus, which is about halfway between downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. They are set to move in 2026 to their namesake city — into a renovated arena that is part of the Dallas convention center.

“The move to Dallas will be transformative for us. We’re super excited about that,” Bibb said. “But between now and then, we hope to win a lot of basketball games right here at College Park Center.”


AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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