LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Las Vegas Aces are back with new threads, a stacked roster and a bit of a chip of their shoulder.
"I hope I never get swept again," said A'ja Wilson, reigning WNBA MVP of last season's finals. "It's an awful feeling but you learn, you grow from it."
Wilson said the uncertainty of last season forced the team to have a go-with-the-flow mindset. That led them all the way to the WNBA Finals, where they were unceremoniously swept by the Seattle Storm.
"This year, the expectations are there, pressure might be there and you gotta start all over again," Wilson said. "It's all about the teaching."
Training camp is now underway with the Aces set to play their second and final preseason game against the LA Sparks Saturday. Head Coach Bill Laimbeer said the team is positioned well in the league but needs to learn to play together.
"We have a long way to go," Laimbeer said. "Not only knowing each other but conditioning-wise, it's clear. We're not unique. Every team is in the same boat, where we couldn't play 5 on 5 so you're so far behind normal conditioning standards."
As for the league itself, center Liz Cambage said many of the things the players have fought for in recent years, including better pay and travel conditions, have improved.
"Right now, I'm just happy I'm not sharing a room no more," Cambage said.
That advocacy extends beyond the court. Wilson said fans can expect the WNBA to continue being a unified force when it comes to pushing for social justice.
"I think it's strength in numbers and when you see a whole league that's dedicated to the "Say Her Name" campaign, that's dedicated to Black Lives Matter, anything else, I think that's where we're going to continue to push."
But whether or not Aces fans will be able to watch their team in person this season is still unclear. The team said an announcement would be coming soon. The Aces will begin the regular season with back-to-back games in Seattle against the Storm. That season opener is on May 15th at noon.