According to head coach Derek Fisher, the Los Angeles Sparks have leveled up in the off-season, with two new veterans Kristi Toliver and the 4-time WNBA Champion Seimone Augustus. Fisher expressed, “We really leveled up in the offseason.”
Fisher recently praised Augustus for bringing her competitive spirit and helping her teammates gain confidence. “Seimone has brought a level of character, humility and integrity to the group. She is as accomplished of a basketball player as anybody in the world, man or woman,” says Fisher.
This is the season for character development, Fisher expresses. He mentioned they get so caught up in thinking, because they have a high level IQ. “This is sports, at some point you have to leave it all out there. Kristi Toliver and Seimone are going to help the Sparks build the type of character they want in the locker room,” Fisher states.
Augustus has been in communication with the young players and sowing confidence into all of her teammates. She points out the gifts she sees into others. “I just keep talking to them. Brittney (Sykes) is over at my house, we are talking about using her abilities, her quickness, her leaping ability to be able to defend and then get out on offense.”
Augustus constantly reminds Sparks center Candace Parker that she is one of the greatest players to step out on the floor. “I stay in CP’s ear talking about how I believe she is one of the greatest players to grace the court, but she has to go out there every night and show it. I’m going to push her.” The new Sparks veteran states she will be vocal and honest with everyone on the team.
Sparks guard Chelsea Gray mentions Augustus brings experience and she doesn’t tell people what they want to hear. Augustus says, “I just speak the truth, honestly. Speaking from my experience.” Gray continued, “The leadership role she’s been playing off the bench has been great. Telling us what we need to hear, not always what we like to hear. She’s Seimone Augustus, never forget that.”
The young players are embracing the veterans that they have on their team. The only rookie, Te’a Cooper, says “I love Seimone. Seimone’s just a wonderful person. Playing with her, she comes in, she’s efficient and does what she needs to do. She’s going to push you. We trust her and follow her lead.”
Cooper soaks in all the knowledge she learns from the veteran players and the coaching staff. “You know there’s so many, so we have so much information between each person whether it’s Chelsea, Nneka (Ogwumike), Candace, [Tierra Ruffin-Pratt] and [Sydney Wiese]. I’m the only rook so just hearing everything they have to say. Then we got Fish, Coach T, and Kari. Everybody is just intelligent people and they all communicate. We get a lot of information from everybody.”
The leaders of the Sparks take pride in their character and being role models for other young players on the team. Fisher believes it is a great foundation for the future of the organization on and off the court. “When you have your best players lead by example in terms of how they carry themselves and how they speak. It helps everybody.”