(News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Sparks had an active offseason. The team resigned forward Nneka Ogwumike, drafted guard Zia Cooke out of the University of South Carolina, and brought in Curt Miller as the head coach.
Last season, the Sparks finished with a 13-26 record and finished sixth overall in the Western Conference. During the offseason, the Sparks got to work building a stronger team and stronger system.
During media day for the Sparks, Miller talked about Cooke and what she will bring to the team this season.
“In the draft, we viewed her as one of the players that was a two-way player coming out of college,” Miller said. “You can see her in big games really compete defensively and she got put on the best players at times. I thought she was good in some early actions defensively here in the first practice. I’m comfortable that she has a chance to be a good defender as she learns more and more about this league. Offensively, we just got to continue to have her have the efficiency she did her senior year at South Carolina. We liked her ability to score at multiple levels.”
Outside of praising Cooke, Miller added that he believes this team will find its identity. He also said that winning starts in the locker room. Leadership is a key ingredient. That starts with Ogwumike, who has taken it on herself to meet and greet at the WNBA Draft the past few years.
This year’s draft was no different. She brought out the welcome mat for Cooke at this year’s WNBA Draft.
“So, it’s been two years now that I’ve been coming to the draft,” Ogwumike said. “It’s always nice to be able to meet the rookies early on and give them a touch point. I didn’t necessarily have what the PA does now when it comes to rookie orientation, and quite frankly I want their first impression of a veteran to be good.”
Miller spoke highly about Ogwumike’s leadership.
“She’s one of the best leaders this league has,” Miller quipped. “She’s an unbelievable person.”
One of the things that Miller wants to do as coach is to make sure that his team establishes a strong and physical defensive presence this season. He also wants to ensure that his players follow his “pillars.”
The Sparks haven’t won a championship since 2016. The expectations are there that they can get back to the title round. With new faces and veterans alike, the Sparks believe that they can be successful.
Lead Image: Nneka Ogwumike’s dominant play was the difference in the Sparks defeating the Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center. Photo Credit: Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com