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How UConn's Crystal Dangerfield went from second-round draft pick to WNBA rookie of the year

By Alexa Philippou, The Hartford Courant on

Published in Basketball

Reeve was upfront with Dangerfield. She didn't envision her seeing much playing time right away with several guards in front of her on the depth chart. But it didn't take long for Dangerfield to prove otherwise. Reeve first realized Dangerfield belonged on the court in training camp during intra-squad scrimmages and pick-up games against other teams. Then, in their season opener, Dangerfield's second half sparked the Lynx's comeback from down 11 to beat the Connecticut Sun.

On consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, Dangerfield picked off a pass for a steal-and-score before showcasing her lethal hesitation move off a pick-and-roll for another lay-in ("That was my moment," Reeve said, "where I was like, 'OK, I've got a pick-and-roll player.' ")

After the game, Reeve told reporters that Minnesota probably wouldn't have won without Dangerfield's minutes, a precursor of what was to come. Among her more impressive achievements this season, Dangerfield finished the regular season second in the league in fourth-quarter scoring average at 6.5 points.

Some rookies are intimidated to go up against pros. Dangerfield admits she wasn't then and isn't now. In a league with only 144 roster spots, she knows she belongs. Plus, she's used to benefitting from the intimidation factor that comes with putting on a UConn uniform.

Being an undersized rookie bypassed by eight teams - including her own initially - just added fuel.

"Whenever a player does that against all expectations," said Montgomery, "that says a lot about the player and what they have inside of them."

 

"I knew, and she's proven, that her heart is so big that she more than makes up for (her size)," Collier said.

"Her will, I would say, she's not ordinary in that way," Reeve said. "She's got something special about her, for sure."

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Collier encouraged Dangerfield to take advantage of any opportunity she was given, especially entering an abbreviated season in which a premium would be put on health.

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