By Brent Cahwee, NDNSPORTS.COM
(Atlanta) – The WNBA opening weekend started on Friday and the most anticipated player for Indian Country made her debut with the Atlanta Dream and she did not disappoint the many fans in attendance and those watching on TV or online.
Shoni Schimmel opened up her WNBA career with seven points for the Atlanta Dream as they defeated the San Antonio Stars by a final score of 79-75 and she showed the Atlanta Dream and WNBA fans why Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper wanted to call her “Showtime Shoni” when he drafted her back in April. Shoni tied the franchise record with an amazing 11 assists in her home debut. Much like she did in her college years at Louisville, Shoni stepped into the guard spot and made passes and kept the offense moving for the Atlanta Dream more like a veteran of the league than a rookie. Shoni said, “It felt good to actually get out there and play”.
Although she had seven points in the game, Shoni didn’t have a great shooting night that she is accustomed to as she was only 2-6 from the field and 1-2 from behind the arc. She also had a handful of mistakes but none that were costly to the team. ”I’m giving her a little leeway,” said Cooper, who led the Los Angeles Sparks to WNBA titles in 2001 and `02. ”You don’t stop a great player like that because you just let her make it happen.” Which is similar to statements that her former head coach at Louisville echoed through Shoni’s four years in college.
With no rest for the weary, the Dream traveled the next day on Saturday the 17th to take on the Indiana Fever on the road who were making their season debut. Playing with a little more confidence from the game the night before Shoni Schimmel made her first career WNBA double-double with a season high 17 points off the bench and added another 10 assists to her stat line. She also continued with two steals as in the previous game against the Stars. The Dream were able to finally put away the Fever in double-overtime by a final score of 90-88. Cooper said, ”Both teams played hard. Our training camp was good, and our conditioning paid off.”
An amazing fact so far to the start of the WNBA season is that the first seven players drafted into the WNBA, ahead of Shoni, don’t even have enough assists to match Shoni’s 21 so far through the first two games. In the sports industry, it is improper to talk about teams that passed on you in the draft process, but Shoni’s first two games through the season and the Dreams (2-0) record speaks volumes.
The next game for the Atlanta Dream will be on Saturday, May 24th, as they take on the Chicago Sky at 8:00 PM local time in Chicago, IL. The game will be broadcast on NBA TV and on WNBA Live Access for web streaming. Check your local cable station for exact channel and broadcast information.
Watch her record matching 11 assists in her WNBA debut below: