Maddy Siegrist diary: Beating Las Vegas and facing business realities — Megan Perry talks Athletes Unlimited — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, July 12, 2023

(Editor’s note: Happy Basketball Wednesday! I am delighted to bring you the Maddy Siegrist 2023 WNBA Diary. Every two weeks throughout the 2023 season, Maddy will be sharing her thoughts directly with you, readers of The IX. Maddy’s ability to put everything from her on-court performance to the off-court growth of women’s basketball into broader perspective will be vital to our understanding of the road ahead. I hope you enjoy this as much as I am. – Howard)

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Greetings from the elliptical in my Minneapolis hotel. I’m preparing for the final game of the first half of the season, and let me tell you, the grind feels a little easier when you’ve won four of five, especially getting one against the Aces.

It was so exciting just knowing what a prominent team they are, the reigning champs, and what a great record they had this year. We played them tight out there and I honestly thought we were going to beat them out there. So then to come home and play well and win like a day later? It’s crazy. But to get the win at home, I think, is everything.

They’re all really smart players. They always make the extra pass, which I think is makes them that good. They have five players that are prominent scorers, passers, rebounders. So to beat them, it really felt like a turning point for us in the locker room after, everybody all smiles. I think it shows what we’re capable of as a team.

Personally, I definitely feel a lot more confident, and just being ready when I come in. You can’t control the amount of minutes you play, but you can control how hard you’re playing when you do. And for me it’s just being ready and just playing like it’s any other game, go do really well in this limited time, do the best I can.

Different teams throw different defensive matchups at me — sometimes guards, others, like DC, it was Tianna Hawkins. I don’t mind that, in college I dealt with a lot of the same things, that variety. It’s just about being ready for whatever comes your way.

Coming to Minneapolis is a chance to see a place with so much WNBA history, but it’s also a chance to re-connect with Philly, since [Lynx POBO and head coach] Cheryl [Reeve] played at La Salle. Back in 2022, we were supposed to be honored on the same night — she got into the Big 5 Hall of Fame and I got Big 5 Player of the Year. But she was a little busy that night. It was the same night as the WNBA Draft.

Honestly, the Philly thing? I didn’t buy into it fully before I got there. But you just see all the people, all the traditions, how many people are connected. It is really fascinating. So now? I’ll claim Philly. [Editor’s note: and vice versa.]

And I just have so much respect for the Lynx as a program. I mean, the culture speaks for itself, so I’m excited to be here. I’ve never been here before. I’ve been enjoying my time on the road. The trip to Vegas — I even tried my hand as a high roller. Five-dollar blackjack table! I got up $35, but I didn’t know when to walk away, and I lost it all.

I had better luck in Indiana, where my dad came out to visit. It was my first time seeing him since we played in New York. We talked a little bit about the game — there’s less to analyze from my performance than when I was at Villanova, but it’s all the usual stuff about playing hard, running all the time, and I love having those conversations.

But the food? He took me to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse downtown. I had the shrimp cocktail and a filet. Fantastic.

And my faith is helping me stay centered as well. I’m still reading that Charlotte Smith book, “When Athletes Pray”, and reading a few verses from the Bible after my morning devotional. And sometimes, it feels like the verses are speaking directly to me. I’ve been getting a lot of those recently, just trusting the plan and knowing that it’s not a never from God, right? Sometimes it’s a “Not yet.”

And after Wednesday, I’m flying out of Minneapolis to Las Vegas to do some promo stuff for Puma. I’m still waiting on the itinerary, but I think it’s like a photo shoot. And then comes the real break — I fly to Philly, see my Villanova teammates, and the shoot up to meet with my family, and we’ll spend a few days at the beach in The Rockaways together.

I know people talk about the L.A. beaches, and they were great, but there were a lot more people, and the water was actually colder. I’ll take The Rockaways. Got a book for the trip, too: Phil Knight’s memoir, “Shoe Dog”.

And then it’s back to the grind, where I know I’ll be doing it without Ashley [Joens]. [Editor’s note: Joens was cut by the Wings on June 28.] I know it’s a business, and no one works harder than she does, so I know we’ll see her in the league again. It makes you feel grateful to still be here. But I’m sad to see her go, she’s my friend.

But the vets, they knew I was missing my partner in crime, and they took care of me. We were out in Las Vegas, and all season Ashley and I would eat together. So I get this group text from Tasha [Howard], Teaira [McCowan] and Arike [Ogunbowale], “You want to come eat with us?” We all went out to House of Blues, had burgers. They didn’t say anything about Ashley, but I mean, they knew. They wanted me to know: they’ll be looking out for me.

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This week in women’s basketball

Noah Furtado writes about Dorka Juhasz’s origin story.

Sean Hurd with a vital piece on diversity (and lack thereof) in Big 12 coaching.

Here are the legal benchmarks for Dearica Hamby’s dispute with the Aces.

Enjoy this Maggie Hendricks piece on the friendship between Allisha Gray and Rhyne Howard.

Te-Hina Paopao playing for Dawn Staley is going to be appointment watching.

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Five at The IX: Megan Perry, Athletes Unlimited

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Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
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By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
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Written by Maddy Siegrist