Dream coach Fred Williams is highly regarded by many for his offensive mind, but how he manages the team’s point guard situation could ultimately determine how successful the team will be in 2013.
With Lindsey Harding deciding to leave for the Los Angeles Sparks after becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Dream were left without a point guard heading into the season.
The team acquired Jasmine Thomas from Washington via trade in February and drafted Alex Bentley out of Penn State with the 13th overall pick of the draft.
Williams sees the two splitting time while learning his system and becoming comfortable playing with new teammates. Through one game, the two-guard rotation seems to be working, Williams said.
“I like what our point guards are doing for us. It’s going to go back and forth because I want to get them experience starting and not starting,” Williams said. “They both just want to fight for their minutes.”
The Dream are in Indiana Friday to face the defending champion Fever. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Thomas currently serves as the starter. The third-year guard played nearly 22 of 40 minutes in the Dream’s season opening victory over Tulsa. She scored four points with six assists and four rebounds. The former Duke standout doesn’t categorize herself as a point guard in the traditional sense.
“I feel it takes away from my game when I’m strictly looking to only facilitate the offense or only pass the ball,” Thomas said. “I have to be looking for my shot and be aggressive as well.”
Williams likes Thomas’ athleticism and her ability to push the tempo, but knows she will play better as the season continues.
“(Thomas) brings a lot of speed and quickness,” Williams said. “She’s still developing that stop-and-pop jumper in transition. Her first-step quickness getting to basket and explosiveness is key for us. Once she gets her ballhandling down and gets a little more comfortable in our offense and halfcourt sets, you’re going to see a better Jasmine.”
In her WNBA debut, Bentley played 18 minutes, scoring five points with three assists. The rookie described herself as a pass-first point guard but she has the ability to stretch the defense with her outside shooting.
“I would say I’m quick, fast and I like getting up and down the court,” Bentley said. “I feel like I can score if need be and I can definitely distribute to my teammates.”
Williams is pleased with how far Bentley has come in just a short time.
“As a rookie, (Bentley) is very confident. She has a lot of swag to her,” Williams said. “For her to come in as a rookie and help guide a veteran team says a lot about her competitiveness.”
Thomas sees the rotation coming down to who performs better, but doesn’t mind splitting time with Bentley.
“We compliment each other and having both of us will always allow us to be on the go,” Thomas said. “We’re not two separate kinds of point guards where one of us is in if we’re playing uptempo or the other is in if we’re slowing it down. We’re able to keep it going throughout a 40-minute game, which is helpful.”
Still, with a strong front court that features veterans Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle, Williams said the point guards’ biggest job is to not make mistakes.
“They just need to get us in a flow,” Williams said. “It takes about four games for that click in for us, maybe more. I know we put up big numbers in the first game, but as we get going, teams are going to scout you and take things away. We have to make sure we have other counters on offense. Our point guards need to be good quarterbacks for us.”