On Saturday, the 2020 WNBA season began with a G.O.A.T., a 16-year and 3x WNBA champion, and the return of the 2018 MVP.
With all eyes on how Ionescu's game would translate to the next level, she didn't disappoint.
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The Liberty (0-1) fell to the Storm (1-0) 87-71 in the opening game of this 2020 WNBA season.
Here are a few takeaways from the G.O.A.T.'s WNBA debut:
Different stage, same Sabrina:
It didn't take long for the G.O.A.T. to record her first points, her first assist and her first rebound in her WNBA debut.
Sure, she showed some first game jitters, but there were also a ton of glimpses of the Ionescu that Oregon fans knew all too well.
Ionescu finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her debut.
Already showing that veteran leadership
You don't have to be a veteran to lead.
Ionescu was a leader at Oregon all four seasons of her four-year career. She demeaned the best of herself and of her teammates. She talked the talk and walked the walk. That same leadership has translated to the professional stage.
Ionescu was mic'd up during her first WNBA game so those watching got a little taste of her influence and leadership. Before tip-off, during huddles and timeouts, Ionescu was vocal.
This is what she said during one of New York's timeouts:
You're letting them dictate what we do. We got to dictate what we want to do. - Sabrina Ionescu
That's a rookie talking to a veteran.
My biggest takeaway from Sabrina Ionescu's WNBA debut is her leadership. Before the game, in timeouts & huddles, the rook speaks her mind and knows when to listen.— Ashley Young (@teamashleyy_) July 25, 2020
Different stage, same Sabrina.
Plus, she's pretty funny.
A few adjustments to make:
Obviously, the WNBA is a different game than the collegiate level. There are certain adjustments Ionescu will learn and make throughout her rookie campaign.
For example, as Ionescu was dribbling around Seattle's Breanna Stewart, ‘Stewie' reached around and poked the ball out.
Flashback: Stewart was not able to play for Team USA when the stars and stripes visited Oregon in an exhibition game back in November as she was nursing an Achilles injury. Ionescu wasn't able to study how she plays defense or just how long she is. Stewie was able to poke the ball from behind Ionescu and get a break away lay-in.
It is plays like this that Ionescu will recognize and make the proper adjustments.
Storm head coach Gary Kloppenburg mentioned trying to throw Ionescu off her game because he knew how dominant she can be:
That was part of our game plan to try and disrupt her. We know how good she is if you allow her to do what she wants coming off screen and rolls. We really wanted to target it her and get it out of her hands and try to force some turnovers. -- Coach Kloppenburg
Ionescu admitted that she was nervous heading into this one and it showed a little: she finished 0-for-8 from three-point range as well as turned the ball over four times.
But Oregon fans know all too well, that those jitters will fade very quickly.
Up next: Ionescu and the Liberty (0-1) will face former Oregon teammate Satou Sabally and the Dallas Wings on July 29 at 5 PM (PT).
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Different stage, same Sabrina: What to make of Sabrina Ionescus WNBA debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest