Jantel Lavender will be making her 2018 WNBA season debut against the Minnesota Lynx this Sunday at the Staples Center.
The 29-year-old veteran missed the first four games of the season due to international obligations. She spent the offseason playing for Yakın Doğu Üniversitesi, based in Istanbul, Turkey. While there, Lavender helped YDU win the 2018 Turkey Cup, beating Hatay BSB by a score of 86-79.
Despite the busy offseason, the former Ohio State Buckeye is ready to go. She feels, “Really good.
Practice has been really intense. I obviously just came off another season, so i’m kind of in the flow, just kind of getting back under my feet with the time change and everything but everything feels great. The plays feel great, my shots feel great so i’m ready to go.”
“Well, she’s had a few days off at home which is always good since they’re away for so long throughout the course of the year,” coach Brian Agler said.
“And you know she’s been here throughout her whole career so it’s easy for her to come back in and then adapt and get along and the things that we’ve changed from last year to this year.
She’s picked up really well and we’re just excited for her to be here. She’s got good energy and she’s shooting the ball well, just what I expect from Jantel.”
Jantel Lavender will be playing against the Lynx on Sunday, but she’ll do so off the bench, according to coach Agler.
The Match Up
This fierce rivalry is one of the best in the league. The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx are coming off two consecutive WNBA finals appearances. In 2016, Candace Parker and the Sparks secured the title. During the following season, it was Minnesota’s turn to take command.
It was only right, then, to have these two teams meet to begin the season. And wouldn’t you know it? That game became another instant classic. Chelsea Gray was the difference maker, hitting a buzzer beating shot to give the Sparks the 77-76 win.
Why would this time around be any different? Both sides have not got out to the best of starts.
The defending champions have won just two games this season while dropping four. Could the expectations be getting to them already? It’s tough to say. You just know, though, that the Lynx will be in the mix before the season is over.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, have lost just once, to the Connecticut Sun at the end of a long road trip. But now, the Sparks have Candace Parker and Jantel Lavender back. Two big pieces to their puzzle and will both give Minnesota fits throughout the game.
“You know Candace is back at practice now, Jantel just got back,” Coach Agler said after practice Friday.
“We’re sort of just trying to get people adapted and just keep improving as we prepared for games. So it’s like we’re doing a couple things, focusing on ourselves to try and get better and focusing on our next opponent.”