Sparks honing team camaraderie and mental focus in WNBA bubble

The Sparks learn a lot about each other in the WNBA bubble in Brandenton, Florida.

For example, an intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday gave them an idea of ​​what to expect from each other when the heat rises in competition. Security guard Sydney Wiese said, “The only way to really get to know each other was to go through those experiences, learn to play each other on the ground, play each other, ask questions, go through certain experiences that you wouldn’t necessarily can learn just by watching film. ‘

An intrasquad spelling bee about Chelsea Gray’s tacos on Sunday taught them a little more. “We found out who our strong players are and who were the weakest players, who can really keep information and who we should help a little bit more,” said veteran watchman Seimone Augustus.

The 11 other teams from The Sparks and the WNBA will be limited to the IMG Academy campus throughout the season – starting with 22 regular season games starting Saturday, a line-up that includes a game between the Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury ( 12 noon), ABC).

The environment in the ‘Wubble’, as WNBA players call it, reminds some players of their time abroad, where they can feel secluded for a while. Others have compared it to a youth basketball tournament, where all teams reside in the same environment.

For the Sparks, which will include six new players, it is also an opportunity to get to know each other faster as the season approaches, starting with four games in eight days.

“Taco Sunday was cool,” said Gray, the Sparks’ All-Star point guard, via Zoom on Tuesday. “It was OK, but overall it was pretty good to get everyone out of the track in one place and have fun with it.”

Having a fun time off track together often translates into joyful times, said Sparks sophomore coach Derek Fisher.

“I think they are very important to team and group success because you can have moments when you can see each other more as people than just as teammates,” he said. And one of the positives of this campus lifestyle is that kind of experience, right? Rather than being at home with family and other responsibilities and things that typically draw teams apart during the season, the ladies have in some ways no choice but to rely on hanging out with each other, getting to know each other through time bring it together, and so those things are important. ‘

The same goes for the spelling, Gray insisted.

The former Duke star said she looked up about fifteen words that were often misspelled – “accommodating,” “immediately,” “inconvenience,” and “conscientiously,” including – before the Sparks split into teams for the spell.

“Those words we use all the time, but like, hold on, without our phones, can we really spell these words?” Gray said. “And it’s quite fun and a joke, but I also feel it helps people’s mental focus.… It was pretty good, people were having fun, people were engaged and they were just having fun.”

The inaugural Sparks Belling Bee went to the wire, said Gray, who did not voluntarily identify which of her teammates the winning team consisted of except to say, “It was close, it was very close.”

None of her other teammates asked would also identify the winners, although Wiese admitted it was not her group: “I stopped paying attention when our team was eliminated, but we weren’t.”

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