Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sister expects big things from Chiney Ogwumike

Chiney Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in April's WNBA Draft, will make her regular-season pro debut tonight for the Connecticut Sun.

Nobody knows Ogwumike better than her sister Nneka, herself a former No. 1 overall pick, so I spent a few minutes on the phone with the Los Angeles Sparks' third-year forward after Thursday's practice.

So what part of Chiney's game will translate the quickest to the pro game?

"I think her ability to finish for sure," Nneka Ogwumike said. "She is a really great finisher around the basket and she will definitely transition seamlessly in that regard."

I asked her how Chiney's positive demeanor will aid in the transition from college star to pro rookie.

"I talk to Chiney every day and there hasn't been a hint of discouragement or negativity from her or from the organization from what I understand based on her perspective," Nneka said. "Her positive attitude will help her team and it will help her off the court as well."

Chiney recalled her introduction to basketball when she was 10 and she was anything but an instant sensation.

"We were at one AAU practice and it was hard because we had never done it before and we weren't dressed for it or anything," Chiney said. "I went to the bathroom and hid, I didn't play that whole year but as Nneka played I learned and she taught me when she came home and make sure we were ready to go. She just showed me what she learned in practice, two-ball dribbling, how to shoot and how to rebound. Going to her games was really fun, I'd be her biggest cheerleader. When Nneka was practicing, I am here dribbling the ball on the side and doing what she is doing."

Here are Nneka's thoughts on those early days.

"It wasn't that easy but I think she had more of a head start even though I started earlier," Nneka said. "I was the most raw out of all of us when we began playing so she had the opportunity to watch for a year. I had the opportunity to work with her when we were at home (playing) outside on the pavement with the basket. I think having those games allowed her to experience the game first before diving in

"When we started playing together for sure. You can watch your sister play and say 'oh, she is good' but once I was playing with her I had no doubt she would progress exponentially and have a lot of success."

The sisters will find themselves likely guarding each other when Los Angeles and Connecticut play on July 13 at Mohegan Sun Arena and on August 3 in Los Angeles so what will that be like for them?

"I think we are just going to forget everything and just play," Nneka said.."Chiney and I, as complicated as it may seem when we are facing each other on the court, at the end of the day we are just going to release everything and let it all out on the court and be competitive like we truly are."


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