Guards, Brittney Sykes and Sydney Wiese, and center, Marie Gülich were some of the players on the Sparks veteran-heavy roster.
All three players have unique backgrounds that could benefit the Sparks. Although there is no finalized start date for the 2020 WNBA season, players are preparing for the season via virtual training camp.
During her three years with the Atlanta Dream, Sykes saw high highs and low lows. She made key contributions for the Dream in the 2018 WNBA Semifinals, Sykes averaged 12.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for five games. Atlanta earned the double-bye week because they were second in the League with a 23-11 overall record.
In 2019, the Dream struggled with an 8-26 overall record. Through that, Sykes learned how to adapt to any situation.
“You know, we’re playing about 30 to 50 games going into the finals. Your mental has to be very tough, very strong in my opinion to go through things like that to come out with a winning mentality,” Sykes said. “You can very much become a pessimistic person and have a negative outlook on things and on games.”
Gülich played for the playoff-bound Phoenix Mercury in 2018 before joining the Dream in 2019. She noticed how the Sparks can “score from any position” and how they can be difficult to scout. She lauded guard, Chelsea Gray and forward, Candace Parker for their passing skills and ability to see the floor.
“Every time you play them you have to be high-alert on defense at all times,” Gülich said. “Even just going to the basket against them, it’s not easy because they’re really athletic and they rotate.”
Wiese became the first WNBA player to contract the Coronavirus. After recovering from COVID-19, Wiese signed a contract extension that lasts through the 2022 season. Loyalty is important to Wiese; she had no intentions of signing with another team in free agency.
In 2019, Wiese made career highs in rebounds, assists, and steals. Playing overseas, Wiese had a mindset of scoring which contrasted with her inclination to play it safe with the Sparks.
“I think overseas, it shifted my mentality to having the ball in my hands, creating off the dribble, off of on-ball screens, moving without the ball, just putting all those components together,” Wiese said. “When I come back to the Sparks this next season, when I have the ball in my hands, I can be more of a threat myself.”
As they go through virtual training camp, the Sparks are making sure to communicate with one another. Gülich checks in from her native country Germany while the rest of the Sparks are scattered throughout the United States. Getting to know teammates over the screen meant talking about the game differently.
Gülich mentioned how they discussed the documentary series “The Last Dance,” Sykes enjoyed the chemistry of the team and Wiese mentioned how the camp added a different level of depth when it comes to building a camaraderie.
“You know you see the connections that the team has,” Sykes said. “So it’s just really dope to see that dynamic and ultimately try to figure out where you fit as a puzzle piece inside this whole ordeal.”