Ogunbowale Often Scapegoated for Wings’ Woes


Arike Ogunbowale gets a lot of heat from fans when the Dallas Wings lose. Her shot attempts per game are often cited as reasons for late game collapses. There is a constant debate of whether she makes or teammates better or whether that is even her job to. Ogunbowale can be a franchise player. More credit is needed for the good things she does.

A Star in the Making

Ogunbowale was the All-Star Game MVP against team USA back in July. She called this one of the best moments of her career so far. This was a glimpse at what she can do when she is at her best. In their third meeting against Seattle, she hit a game-winning basket with under five seconds remaining to give Dallas the win. The Wings currently hold the second to last playoff spot and have a favorable schedule moving forward. This is despite the recent tough loss to the Mystics and splitting one of two games against the Dream. This season will go a long way to determining if the organization and Ogunbowale are headed in the right direction.

Efficiency Issues

Two of Arike’s worst games this season were against the Las Vegas Aces. In their first meeting, she was 3-for-13 and scored 11 points. In their second meeting, she was 4-for-19 and had 10 points. Last night, in what may have been her most discouraging performance this year, she went 2 of 17 and scored just eight points. This ended her double-digit scoring streak. Those types of nights will need to be minimized. A lot of this comes back to her having to be the leader of what is the youngest team in the league. Not to mention it stems from organization whose game plan seems to change from game to game. Many player roles are not clearly defined. Allisha Gray, Marina Mabrey, and Isabelle Harrison are viable scoring options that consistently see their usage shift. The easy take is to blame Ogunbowale for not getting teammates more involved, but that is also the job of the staff with their play design.

Arike’s Impact?

Last season, there were some blowout games in which Ogunbowale was left in and put up points. However, this season, Dallas has only been blown out in two games. That is their second game against Las Vegas and their last game against Connecticut. Arike hasn’t been piling on garbage time points this season. She has been scoring in the fourth quarter of close games in the clutch. The biggest argument that is often made against her is that she is a great scorer on a losing team. The numbers she’s putting up are not empty stats, at least not within the vacuum of this season. Ogunbowale is averaging 19.1 points per game. As of late last week she has now had 500 points in back-to-back-to-back seasons.

Improving Every Game

Ogunbowale’s games this past week against Washington felt significant because it was clear she’s been working on some of the issues mentioned. Ogunbowale had 26 points but more importantly she had nine assists and shot 50% from the field. Late in the fourth, she made a huge basket that originally called an offensive foul. It was overturned. Being clutch was never the issue though. Her field goal percentage overall has been improving as has her shot beyond the arc.

Need For a True Point Guard

What would help Arike tremendously is reduced responsibility as a facilitator. If you look at the best teams in league, they have point guards who are floor generals. The elephant in the room in Dallas is Moriah Jefferson. Jefferson has improved slightly as of late, but doesn’t bring what Dallas needs from their lead guard. The franchise has been hesitant to move on from her and she is still under contract. Ty Harris could be an option, but her playing time is so inconsistent that it’s hard to tell how truly effective the pairing is. Bringing in a true point guard in free agency or the draft would do wonders for Ogunbowale’s game and the Wings as a whole.

Keeping Your Star Happy

It was a great move by the front office to bring in Ogunbowale’s former college teammate and best friend, Marina Mabrey. The two gel on and off the court. During the games in which Satou Sabally and Gray were away for 3×3, the pair averaged over 20 points per game. However, Mabrey’s role has shifted drastically over the last few months. If she becomes unhappy, then what will that mean for Ogunbowale, who will definitely want Mabrey on the team and playing consistently?


About Tiffany Stegall

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