Maddy Siegrist diary: Piecing it together — Jasmine Thomas talks WNBA comeback — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Aug. 9, 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 on her Dallas Wings season 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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From the start of the season, I’ve been reminding myself that it is all about putting the work in, the minutes will come, to maximize the time I’m out there.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting when I get more.

Late in the third quarter against Seattle, I’d entered a few minutes earlier, played a few minutes, then saw a group of four teammates lined up to come in as substitutes after a foul. But this time, they replaced four other teammates. I was the one who remained on the floor. I was like “Oh my gosh, this is great.” You try not to focus on that, but I remember feeling so excited about getting some extra time.

Playing more does build confidence, and it’s really working for me. I think some shots you’ll just always feel good shooting — when I get the ball in the post, foul shots, putbacks, stuff like that. But the shots where you’re playing in transition, or they pass you the ball on the perimeter, or you’re driving to the basket — stuff in the flow of offense? That feels different. (Editor’s note: Siegrist averaged 7.6 minutes per game in her first 24 WNBA contests, and 15 per game over her last four. She’s shooting .591/.500/1.000 in that four-game span.)

I definitely don’t spend a lot of time on the numbers, though I always look at the box score after the game. But I measure progress by things like: was I taking good shots? Was I aggressive? Good shots aren’t always going in, so it’s about my process. Still, it feels awfully good when the shots go down. And all my teammates and coaches are so excited for me, it reinforces the confidence boost when things go right.

I’ve started getting used to seeing players who, until this year, I would just watch on TV, people like Jewell Loyd when we visited Seattle, even my own teammates. It’s starting to feel more normal now. It’s just what I do.

As a team it feels like we’ve been dealing with some setbacks, but just a normal part of a season, the ebb and flow of it. We’ve talked a lot about goals, and finishing in the top four and advancing in the playoffs is still what we all have our eye on. We also know now that we can beat anyone in the league, even the best teams, and that’s calming for us heading into any game. I know once you get to the playoffs, it’s like March Madness. Anyone can beat anyone.

Even on the rare days I don’t play much these days, I still find the joy in my day. Out in Las Vegas, I barely played, but my cousins had flown out to see me, and I got to take my energy and put it into whitewater rafting. I get it now: they’re just here to see me, like when my father flew down to Dallas this week. They’re just excited I’m in the WNBA. So I’m not letting them down when I don’t play as much. And I love seeing family, it’s always a huge pick-me-up. So was the spicy rigatoni I had at Carbone in Mandalay Bay.

I did experience something new on Sunday, when we had a brawl against Chicago. I’d never had a team brawl at any level. As soon as it happened, I turned to T [Teaira McCowan] and we were both like “just stay on the bench so we don’t get in trouble”. I’m not much of a trash talker and I don’t argue calls, so my strategy in those moments has been to drift toward the free throw line, since I was usually the one on my team to take technical [foul shots].

Back home I’ve been reading a little — still working on “Shoe Dog” and also “How God Grows A Woman of Faith” a bit every morning. But with less pool time these days — even a pool, at 110 degrees, is a little much for me — I have been building puzzles. My current project is an Icelandic sunset, 1500 pieces. I’m making good progress.

And I keep getting my family coming down to visits. My grandparents came, they are so cute. They get so excited every time they see me after the game, “Oh, we’re so proud of you”, “Great job”. My grandpa took me to pretty much every AAU game I played in high school, so we reminisce about that. And when I wake up, he makes me breakfast: bacon sandwiches with hot sauce. It’s like nothing has changed, even though so much has.

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This week in women’s basketball

Ben Pickman on the state of WNBA travel.

Aya Abdeen on Megan Gustafson’s evolution.

Jesse Morrison on the way Diana Taurasi reached 10,000 points.

Jenn Hatfield on how hardship players make the most of their opportunities.

The Pac-12 is really gone. I can’t believe it.

And vital Jackie Powell breakdown of how the Liberty crushed the Aces.

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Written by Maddy Siegrist