Why Angel Reese thrives on being uncomfortable with the Chicago Sky

Angel Reese went down in the third quarter. And when she went down, Alyssa Thomas sent her there without regard of Reese's social status or notoriety.

Thomas clotheslined Reese with her arm and sent the Sky rookie to the hardwood, and it took Reese a moment to compose herself and get up.

Referees ruled that foul a flagrant 2 foul and ejected Thomas.

Reese thanked Thomas for it after the game.

No, seriously.

"They're not supposed to be nice to me," Reese said. "I hope y'all know that they're not supposed to be nice to me or lay down because I'm Angel Reese or because I'm a rookie. Thank you AT for sending the message to me."

The 2024 WNBA season is highlighted by rookies like Reese. She, Cameron Brink, Caitlin Clark and more are changing the landscape of women's basketball by taking their talents to the professional level.

That comes with comfortable moments, like Thomas' hard foul on Reese.

Reese, who has been one of the best players in the league aside from being a star rookie, welcomes that. She wants to be uncomfortable.

Those uncomfortable moments are a test for Reese. It tests her resolve and strength. 

Even in a loss on Saturday, she proved to the sell-out Wintrust Arena crowd that she can handle anything the WNBA can throw at her. Especially a flagrant 2 foul. 

"I got back up, and I kept going and kept pushing," Reese said.

Getting back up after those hard fouls and falls to the floor proved her strength to her head coach, too. 

"She wants to compete," Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. "She knows she wants to compete against the best. And when you're competing against those who've been here and know how good they are, all it's going to do is help you to grow, it grows your game mentally. It grows your game physically."

Saturday had its growing pains, too.

After a 10-point first half where Reese was scoring on multiple levels and in transition, it felt like a game where the Sky were growing even further.

In the second half, Reese went 0 for 3, taking just three shots and scoring just three more points. Reese finished with 13 points.

It'll be a challenge for Reese to look back, see what went wrong and move on.

"She loves this game and she takes on every challenge that I put before," Weatherspoon said. "Everyone calls her a rookie. Yeah, we know that she's a rookie, but she's a player."

Being a player also means that Reese knows that it wasn't personal today. It'll never be personal any day, either.

That's how hard you have to play to win in the WNBA.

"I know it's no hard feelings," Reese said. "I appreciate her for going at me today."

Reese doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks of her. She said it herself.

It also means that she's going to be uncomfortable as she learns the differences between post-play in college and in the WNBA. Reese has already shown she can handle the pressure of the WNBA; the came into Sunday leading the league in offensive rebounds per game.

Rookies don't just do that. However, the rest of the league takes notice, too. That's when a two-step test comes into play.

The first step is playing players like DeWanna Bonner and Thomas. Step two is getting up when those players knock you down. Weatherspoon said as much. The fact Reese welcomes it means those learning moments won't deter her or hold her down.

"It grows your game of what you must do to be better offensively what you must do to be better defensively," Weatherspoon said. "From there you grow. And that's what she's all about. She wants it, she loves it. She enjoys it. Just like every other player on this team."

Reese welcoming that contact and the uncomfortable nature of the WNBA will only help her. Especially with a Sky team that's aiming to prove they're better than their preseason projections.

It also helps that Reese is on a team that sees her competitive nature and encourages it.

"I have some great competitors," Weatherspoon said. "I'll say it again. I say it always: I'm pretty lucky to have a team that I have and all we're gonna do is get back."


Another step forward for Angel Reese: 3 takes from the Chicago Sky's home opening loss to the Sun

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