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Cappie Pondexter
June 15

WNBA Season Kicks Off As NBA Finals Wrap Up

Everyone enjoys playoff basketball! The NBA Finals are coming to an end. There are two games left featuring two amazing teams that are playing skilled basketball with a lot of heart. It’s great and there’s so much excitement around it!

I’ll talk more about the NBA Finals, but it’s also the start of the WNBA season. A lot of transactions took place during the offseason. I happen to be one of the storylines, with me coming back home to Chicago. There’s a huge, huge, huge amount of excitement here in Chicago with our new team!

I’m so excited to be home! I’ve had a house here for about six years, but I never had the opportunity to stay here because I was either playing in Phoenix, New York or Europe. I love sleeping in my own bed! This is a huge city with crazy traffic, so sometimes I stay out in the suburb of Deerfield near our team’s practice facility. Most of our team lives out there. I’m enjoying the process of learning the city. I left when I was 18, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to learn Chicago as an adult. And I’m doing that now.

So, we are 2-2 right now. Even though our record doesn’t say much, we have a really good team and I feel very positive about it. We are in the mode of finding the right pieces that fit together…trying to find the five to start the game that makes us kind of click from the beginning. We’re so ahead offensive-wise, which is kind of scary. I think our main thing is finding what we’re really good at defensively because obviously we’re missing a big part with Sylvia Fowles not being in the middle protecting shots. But we’re making adjustments with that.

We are going to continue to have fun. It’s a process right now. And this is when we say to ourselves, how good do we want to be? Do we really want to win a Championship? And right now, we are working everyday to get to that.

Back to the NBA finals for a minute. I’m not pulling for any team per se, but I enjoy the skill level of certain players. I’m learning, I’m watching sets, I’m watching defensive schemes. I’m just enjoying these games. The game f basketball is always evolving and you can always learn and pull something from it. That’s what my eyes are doing now – watching and learning!

You know what I think was really interesting…There was an article on ESPN.com that a lot of people were talking about a couple days ago about the science behind all the traveling the players are doing during these Finals and how the body recovers from it. It’s amazing how these players are going back and forth like that. It’s crazy! Flying itself is exhausting. And then with the minutes they are playing, the amount of intensity out there…it all plays a major factor. It eventually comes out.

But Golden State is much deeper rotation-wise. They have so many diverse players that can play multiple positions, where the Cavs rotation is 6 or 7 off the bench. So when I think about Game 6, I think it will be interesting to see how the teams recover after the flight from Golden State to Cleveland, which is obviously a totally different time zone. Honestly, I think whoever recovers the fastest will win Game 6. 

April 16

Draft Day Flashback

I had a great offseason from the WNBA in Australia. It gave me a chance to actually rest my body and still compete. Now, I’m officially back and it’s good to be home in Chicago. After being traded to the Chicago Sky, I’m very excited to be playing in front of friends and family in the city that I grew up in.

But, it’s always hard to leave places that are familiar to you. I’ve been in New York for five years trying to build something, but I’m happy to be in a place where I’m wanted and able to compete for a championship. That’s always my goal and I feel that being in Chicago, I have the chance now.

The draft is tonight and I’ll be watching at our draft party, cheering on our pick. I’m excited to see who we land with the fifth pick. I’m sure it will be a fun night.

For me, back in 2006, the draft was overwhelming. I can’t lie. We had just finished the All-American game for the college seniors and I had to fly to Connecticut. There were rumors surrounding whether I was going to go one or two. People were talking about whether Seimone Augustus would go one and I would go two or vice versa. There was a lot of speculation around it.

It was a two-day event, and I also had to find something to wear. I spent a lot of time running all around looking for something. My family came up. They wanted to be with me. I was nervous going into it because I didn’t know if I’d have to go up there first or second or what. I didn’t know how it would go. It was an excited nervous feeling, though. Ultimately I went second to the Mercury, and I was happy to learn that I’d be playing with Diana Taurasi. That was a great feeling.

It all happens so fast. Your name is being called and you’re talking to media and then just like that I had to fly to Phoenix an hour later after the draft. It was a crazy whirlwind but it was super exciting. I’d tell this year’s draft class to just have fun and soak it all up. You only have this day once and it all happens so quickly, so embrace the moment, take lots of pictures and enjoy it. It’s an opportunity that will change your life for the better, so just soak it all up.

Even though the fashion is the trend and all the girls are thinking about what to wear, once your name gets called, it’s all about basketball. You have to prepare yourself to be ready to go. The Mercury flew me out for media right away, so I landed in Phoenix at 11 or 12 at night and was up at 7 in the morning talking to the press. It was fun. I was happy to be in a different element and ready for my professional career to start.

When the season starts, I think that first half of the season you are riding on a high and then you hit that rookie wall. If you played in the NCAA tournament and then you go to the WNBA you’re pretty much playing nonstop. You have to do your best to take care of your body – rest when you can, but at the same time enjoy going to different cities and playing against all these different teams.

But it all starts now for these girls and it’s exciting to start your career. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone lands. Good luck to everyone at the draft!

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July 31

One Win At A Time


We are in a good place right now, especially coming off of All-Star break and winning five of our last six games, which is very positive. We are improving day by day, practice by practice, game by game...and I'm excited about it! We are in fourth place right now and if the playoffs started tomorrow, we'd be in the playoffs facing Atlanta.

Going into our West Coast trip, everybody was focused. It's been a tough swing for Tina and me since we flew from All-Star (in Phoenix) to practice in New York for one day back out to Los Angeles. But I'm glad we had the legs to come out and play really hard. The third game of our road trip hit us; we shot terribly and didn't get the win, but overall we have been playing with a lot of intensity.

Morale on the team has been great, especially since we picked up two key players in Natasha Lacy and Swin Cash. They fit in so well, it's almost like they've been with us since the beginning of the season. The chemistry they bring, which our team already had, has been amazing.

Lacy is a similar guard as myself. She can get her own shot and help others as well. And now she adds a third dimension as a backup 1. Swin is a veteran leader who has played for Bill for many years, so she knows what he is looking for. She's an all-around winner, in my opinion, on and off the court.

Players can talk all day about what we should do, but we have been showing it. We have a handful of players that can say what they feel, and then at the same time, show it. It's important to both of these things. We want to make the playoffs, and the bottom line is that it's in our own hands.

You always want to play at home, and sleep in your own bed, but we have three more away games ahead of us. Tonight we are playing Chicago, who has beat us in our last nine games. So tonight is an important game. We have to come out with an aggressive mindset and play really, really, really hard. When you compete on the road, you have to play even tougher. And my mindset is to go after it on both ends of the floor.

It's been a tough year because I'm nursing an injury; I have my good days and I have my bad days. I feel like I can give this team so much more, but right now I'm trying to get healthy and give this team as much as I can.

I also want to thank the fans for their energy at our last home game (we had something like 13,000 fans at our last home game, which is pretty amazing for a regular-season game)...the energy was unreal! Please keep supporting us as we make our playoff push!

August 8th is our next home game and I look forward to seeing all of our fans there...packing the Garden!

 

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July 23

Best WNBA All-Star Weekend Yet


I've played in six WNBA All-Star games, and this one was by far by the best that I've played in (besides my first one). The first reason is because I played in Phoenix; they were the team that drafted me and I won two championships there...so I was going there on a positive note. The second reason was the atmosphere. The atmosphere was amazing, and I thought Phoenix did a great job of hosting.

A lot of the fans were saying that they miss me. It was good to hear that they were more sad that I left rather than screaming and yelling at me.

It was fun to go back there. I went to one of my favorite restaurants Fez. I took my family with me and we ate there (I love their salads, they are awesome!). I also participated in the WNBA Cares event, which is always great, and I love doing that during All-Star. This year, we were raising awareness for health and fitness, so we exercised with the kids and ran around with them. I saw a lot of the beat writers that I used to talk to and even saw a writer who wrote a book about the Mercury's 2009 Championship run. He gave me a copy of the book, and I actually had a passage in it, which was kind of cool.

I didn't have a lot of personal time because we were so busy with media, running around, practices, stuff like that. It's definitely an honor to be part of All-Star Weekend, especially in my case because the fans voted me there, so I never take that granted. But you have to be relaxed while you're there. Obviously we don't really have a break because in addition to basketball we are doing community relations and talking to the media. But the fact that you are around so many other great players, and get to learn about them off the court, I always take advantage of that.

For example, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about Shoni Schimmel. I think it was great for her that the game was in Phoenix because there are a lot of Native Americans there. And she has eight brothers and sisters that were there (I think her whole family was there if I'm not mistaken). It was cool really getting to know her. I'm sure a lot of people questioned how she was voted in, but I think she did a great job of proving why she belonged there. It was an awesome story.

The Western Conference had so many more well-known players, like Maya Moore, Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird...and everybody thought they were going to kill the East. But we came out and played great basketball, competed really hard and made the game so interesting. I think that was the best All-Star Game that I've ever been a part of. 

And I think the fans would agree. When the game finished, everybody was saying how it was the best game, that it was unbelievable, so intense, and so fun watching both teams get after it. It was cool to be a part of that for sure.

And to my fans: stay tuned as the New York Liberty fight to make a playoff push!

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