Aces open training camp with eight players

Sugar Rodgers expected to join the team shortly in Bradenton.

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Las Vegas Aces Head Coach Bill Laimbeer during the WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on August 23, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

The Las Vegas Aces officially kicked off training camp this weekend at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Though the entire roster was not available to practice quite yet, head coach and president of basketball operations Bill Laimbeer finally got some time on the practice floor with six-time All-WNBA forward Angel McCoughtry, who the team signed as an unrestricted free agent back in February.

“I think Angel looks how I expected her to look,” Laimbeer said. “Very poised and experienced and smart. A leader. All of the package that you expect from a multi-All-Star Olympian, especially someone of her experience. I think she’s gonna work her way into a little bit of shape. She played a little bit coming off the knee injury a couple years ago. I’m very happy with her progress so far. She wants to be in every drill. I had to tell her to get out of a drill one time just to make sure I saved her legs. But overall, she’s right there. And she’s going full blast.”

The Aces were seen as one of the league’s top contenders when McCoughtry signed back in February. However, starting guard Kelsey Plum will miss the 2020 season with a torn Achilles suffered back in June. Additionally, All-WNBA center Liz Cambage is expected to miss the 2020 season and is waiting for a ruling from the league’s independent physician panel.

Laimbeer and the Aces started the weekend with eight players in practice. Veteran guard Sugar Rodgers has not arrived on site as of Saturday. “She has a personal issue she’s taking care of,” Laimbeer said. “We expect her to be here shortly, but everybody else is here.”

Carolyn Swords and All-Star Kayla McBride are the other two players that were not a part of the team’s initial practice sessions.

“Carolyn is in a situation where she was exposed to somebody before she got here,” Laimbeer said. “It’s run its course, we believe, and she’ll be practicing [Sunday]. Kayla had a family matter at her home with her family. So that got her out of whack of what the timetable was with the bubble. Once you don’t come up on opening day, if you miss one or two, you have to go into the quarantine period of X days. So that’s what she’s in right now. She’s sitting there; she’s fine. It’s just that she had to go through protocol which is very important right now.”

Newcomers Danielle Robinson, Alex Bentley, Avery Warley-Talbert and McCoughtry joined returners Jackie Young, A’ja Wilson and Dearica Hamby. Lindsay Allen is back with the club after appearing in 24 games in 2018. The team announced the signing of Warley-Talbert on July 4 prior to news breaking that Cambage was expected to miss the 2020 season.

“We needed another big body,” Laimbeer said of the decision to sign Warley-Talbert. “No question about that. She’s stronger than anybody else in the league. There’s no question about that, either. I think we needed somebody who’s big and strong that can bang; be a role player. We have a lot of talented bigs, and they’re going to play a lot of minutes. Avery understands her role on this basketball team is to come in and rebound and play defense and run the floor and try to steal some easy baskets. And she’s good at that.”