What stood out the most were two young rookies making a bigger name for themselves playing the game they know and love. Ariel Atkins from Texas and Myisha Hines-Allen from Louisville made their WNBA debut on Sunday afternoon and it was a pleasant one.
Atkins entered the game with a little over a minute to go in the first quarter shooting a 18-foot jumper to take a 16-14 lead off an assist from Natasha Cloud. Atkins then returned the favor finding Cloud for the three-pointer 25 feet out. Although it didn’t seem like it, nerves and jitters were surrounding her throughout the game.
“I get nervous for every game; I don’t know who doesn’t. It was nerves more in sense of that I’m really excited and I’m absolutely, extremely thankful to be here and have the opportunity,” Atkins said. “It was one of those things where you have people that’s on your team that’s always talking to you and always there talking me through things. I can even hear them on the bench during the game and they just make it a lot easier.”
Atkins finished with five points, 2-4 from the field and one assist.
Hines-Allen got going midway through the second quarter with a pull-up jump-shot off another assist from Cloud. Hines-Allen was then aggressive on defense following through with a steal off Indiana guard Erica Wheeler. In the fourth quarter, she got going early with two back-to-back jumpers, finishing her debut with six points, two rebounds and two steals.
Hines-Allen was grateful to her teammates for making her feel well adjusted in the game.
“My teammates make me feel comfortable and then I started playing my game and it was easier for me to do what I do best,” Hines-Allen said. I was a little nervous at first, but then I settled down and played.”
Head Coach Mike Thibault spoke on the rookies in the post-game conference and how they seemed to have controlled their nerves a little better than the veterans. He even mentioned that with Hines-Allen he’s not sure of what to expect when it comes to her confidence and play.
“I don’t know what to expect from Myisha because she’s come into training camp with that confidence,” Thibault said. “The one thing I like about both of our rookies and it’s part of why we drafted them is that they are not afraid of big moments. They’ve been in big games...and they’ve come in saying ‘I’m good enough to play’.”