Brittany Boyd, Reshanda Gray face challenges adapting to new roles in WNBA

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While the end of many professional sports leagues’ seasons have come, the WNBA’s season is just getting started. The WNBA will be present throughout the summer to take advantage of the relatively few professional leagues that are going on at the time. That means a very busy summer for two Cal alumnae.

Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray left California after graduating from UC Berkeley in spring and joined their respective teams. Boyd was drafted by the New York Liberty in the first round as the ninth overall pick, while Gray slid down the draft board far past where she had been predicted to be picked. She was finally selected in the second round by the Minnesota Lynx as the 16th overall selection.

Fast forward to today, and both former Bears have started playing in professional games with the WNBA season now in full throttle. Neither rookie was expected to join the starting lineup on these rosters simply because of the fact that they both landed on teams that already had established players at their respective positions.

The Lynx played in Los Angeles against the Sparks on Tuesday night, winning, 67-52, and allowing Gray to return to her hometown to play in front of family and friends for the first time as a professional player. This is always a substantial moment for a young player, and it will surely be so for Gray, even though she has struggled to find the court this season.

In the five games the Lynx have played in — in which they are 4-1 and currently tied for the lead in the Western Conference — Gray has seen playing time in only four of them. She has averaged five minutes per game, showing that her time on the court has been very limited. Gray is also averaging just a point per game, which makes sense, given her lack of playing time.

Gray’s performance here is no shocker. As soon as she left the first round in the draft, her chances of landing in a starting role were slim. To add to that, she was drafted by a team that won the WNBA Finals in 2013, went to the Conference Finals last year and finished with a record of 25-9. This is a veteran-laden, good team she is on and Gray will learn from the veterans on this squad. This will help ensure that she will be ready once her number is finally called.

Patience with Gray seems to be part of a winning formula. After not becoming a full-time starter until her junior year at Cal, the forward became one of the Bears’ biggest stars her last two seasons. Gray not getting a lot of starting time with the Lynx should not concern Cal fans. Her time will come.

Across the country, in New York, Boyd has been having a somewhat similar experience. Boyd has played in all five games, although her team currently holds the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 record. Her playing time has been much more significant than Gray’s, however, as she has averaged 21.5 minutes and eight points a game. The guard’s increased time on the court may come from her increased experience — she started in all of her four years with Cal — and from the quality of the team she landed on, which has not made the playoffs for the last two years.

While the success of these two former Bears is not close to being fully decided, watching their progress this season and beyond will surely be spectacular.

Alaina Getzenberg covers women’s basketball. Contact her at [email protected]