Monday, February 26 was a big day for women’s basketball fans in Big D.
It was the day where the Dallas Wings introduced its newest star in the Lone Star State – the 6-foot-8 Australian sensation Liz Cambage.
Cambage was introduced that Monday at a press conference at College Park Center that also featured Wings general manager Greg Bibb and Wings head coach Fred Williams as well as Skylar Diggins-Smith in the front row to take in the proceedings.
Skylar x Liz… the new duo in Dallas! #WatchMeWork
— WNBA (@WNBA) February 26, 2018
We expect great things for our organization in 2018 and having Liz in the fold with our young and talented team will take us to new heights.
Bibb not only lauded Cambage on her basketball play, but also on her commitment to developing the game, retelling a story of when he and Williams visited Cambage in Australia.
After a game, a very tightly played, hard-fought game, Liz signed autographs for over an hour until every child in the arena had an autograph and opportunity to meet her.
Cambage mentioned that back in Melbourne, she runs a gym that trains elite high school players to be equipped with the skills necessary to get to the next levels of their careers.
After Bibb’s opening remarks, Williams said some remarks about the significance of bringing Cambage back within the Wings organization.
Liz means a lot to our organization. She’s always been a part of our family.
We’ve always wanted an inside presence for this organization and for this team and we feel with Liz, she’ll be able to help us get to that next level and the next level is to bring a championship to this organization here in the future.
–Wings head coach Fred Williams
Cambage herself mentioned that it was at last year’s Olympics where she really began to entertain the idea of a return to the WNBA. She said she took last season off but took some time to get herself ready physically and mentally as she also encountered achilles issues.
Towards the close of the presser, she also credited Sandy Brondello, the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, as an important influence in her decision to return to the WNBA. Brondello also is a coach for the Australian Opals and Cambage mentioned how Brondello wants her players to play in the WNBA as a way to sharpen their basketball prowess for world championship events, such as the FIBA World Cup and Olympics.
Cambage credited Williams and the Wings organization with being patient with her and knowing that after she encountered growing pains when she and the organization was in Tulsa as the Shock, she needed some time away from the game.
She was also asked what should new fans expect from her this season. Cambage mentioned one thing that is a common attribute of basketball players – having fun away from the court, but all business when they step on that hardwood.
A lot of people see me play basketball and I am very intense on the basketball court. Yeah, I leave it all on the floor.
I just hope people know that I’m not as crazy as I am on the court as I am off the court.
Along with putting up the numbers and the effort it takes to help her team win, she also believes she has a responsibility to be a role model for young kids also looking to get in the game.
I get a lot of messages from girls after every game that comes to my games. And it’s hard. It’s hard being a female athlete. But, at the end of the day, if I’m going out there and I’m playing a game that makes a little girl want to play and want to be a pro athlete as well, that’s – girl or boy – that’s all I care about is to keep inspiring people to keep playing.
Basketball-wise, Bibb elaborated on how the presence of Cambage creates a golden opportunity for the Wings to catch teams off balance on both ends of the floor.
Now with Liz in the middle, teams are going to have to play us a little bit more honestly on the defensive end, which will create more opportunity, more space for our perimeter.
Williams believes Cambage will help mightily with the Wings efforts against some of the WNBA’s other premier post players such as Sylvia Fowles, Jonquel Jones, Brittney Griner, and Tina Charles.
That Cambage-Griner matchup will be one fans get to witness on this season’s opening night when the Wings travel to Phoenix to face the Mercury on May 18.
Bibb admitted that when he joined the Wings in 2015, a top item on his wish list was the signing of Cambage. She also mentioned how back in May, she had an opportunity to take in more of the Metroplex.
There’s a lot going on in this city. I didn’t think I’d be able to see it. This season is very tiring. You know – back-to-back games and games every other day.
It’s a beautiful city and I’ve already been enjoying a lot of the group right here as well. So, I’m excited. I’m excited to be here.
I need to get a cowgirl hat that matches my @DallasWings uniform 😉
— Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) February 5, 2018
She admitted that she was looking for a team where she could grow and fit with said team when she was first drafted into the WNBA, but did not adapt well to the pressure of being a franchise player. Cambage mentioned that playing overseas in places such as China and Australia did a lot for her confidence and development.
Another interesting question came when she was asked about her friendship over the years with not only Diggins-Smith, but also with Glory Johnson.
I loved watching Skylar grow and get married and be the beautiful, inspiring woman that she is.
I’ve watched [Glory] from afar and I’m very excited to start that relationship again with the girls.
She feels the relationships cultivated over the years with much of the Wings organization, including Williams, will make the transition back to the States a lot smoother.
Coach Fred and I have been chatting for years. Greg has been trying to get me back here for years. Sky, she’s been someone that’s been there for me over the years. So, I am the new girl on campus. I’m a bit nervous about coming back, but I know it’s a good environment, it’s a team environment and it’s an environment that’s wanted me. And I’m excited to be a part of that.
In addition to hoops, another one of Cambage’s passions is music, as she mentioned playing the violin and the piano when she was growing up but had a bit less time for music when she began playing basketball.
Music is a big part of my life.
She described a time when she experienced the making of music one time in what she described as a “beautifully designed studio surrounded by Grammys.”
Keeping my mind creative and having a getaway from basketball has been really good for me.
In the latter moments of the press conference, Cambage was also asked if she had an opportunity to spend some time at the Texas institution known as Whataburger.
She quipped a bit that she remembers seeing Whataburgers when played in Tulsa, but never had one.
Thanks to our sponsors at Ted-E’s for supplying the food for our guests at the press conference today! pic.twitter.com/rNXfptDlO8
— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) February 27, 2018
— Elizabeth Cambage (@ecambage) February 27, 2018