WNBA: Chicago Rookie Betnijah Laney Out of Rutgers Enjoys Being a Student of the Game
WASHINGTON – Chicago Sky 6-foot-1 rookie guard Betnijah Laney is another of the younger generation of mother-daughter tandems who have excelled in women's basketball.
The Seattle Storm's Lauren Jackson's mother Maree was a star at LSU and on the Australian national team.
Betnijah's mom Yolanda out of University City High in Philadelphia was an All-American collegian who helped Cheyney University in the Philly western suburbs advance to the first NCAA title game under legendary head coach C. Vivian Stringer in 1982 when the Lady Wolves fell shortto Louisiana Tech.
The younger Laney also played for Stringer at Rutgers the last four years after achieving high school blue chip recruiting status in Delaware which was also enjoyed by Sky teammate sensation Elena Delle Donne.
Now, Laney’s in a perfect situation with the veteran Sky with its cadre of star power.
There’s not much pressure on her to produce points. She’s able to learn and make meaningful contributions to a team with championship aspirations.
“I feel like I am surrounded by great teammates,” Laney said following the Sky’s 66-64 victory over the Washington Mystics Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
“Coming onto a team that made it all the way to the Finals and fell short has made them hungry. Just to be able to come into this situation and being able to learn from them is a great thing.”
Laney scored two points in 12 minutes against the Mystics.
Besides a pat on the back from her teammates and head coach Pokey Chatman, Laney also got a slightly busted lip.
The Smyrna High School graduate shrugged it off as she spoke in the lockeroom.
She’ll gladly accept the battle wounds that come from playing the game she enjoys.
“That’s the game, so you have to keep going with it and roll with the punches,” Laney said. “It’s very physical, but you get used to it. (Being on the floor during the fourth quarter) was an adrenaline rush for me. It just makes you want to go out, give it your all and play as hard as you can.”
Laney is blessed as she had the chance to learn the sport from her mother and Stringer.
That’s like an artist being taught to paint by Michelangelo.
Chatman’s confidence has grown in Laney and when she was available in the second round with the 17th overall selection, she immediately snatched her up.
“She comes from great stock,” Chatman said of Laney. “You know coach Stringer does a great job of teaching the fundamentals of the game and you can tell in training camp that she had so much to offer.
"She’s finally getting comfortable with the multiple positions that she could play.
"Immediately, she’s somebody we felt confident with on the defensive side of the basketball and she’s getting more comfortable offensively.
"She is such a hard worker and eager to learn I have to remind her I also have 10 other players to deal with," Chatman said with a grin.
A role player this season, Laney has enjoyed the experience of watching and competing against Delle Donne, Rutgers standout Cappie Pondexter, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and the rest of the Sky’s veterans.
She is continuing to gain confidence in her game and adjusting to a new responsibility of playing on the wing instead of near the basket.
Laney has scored in double figures three times, including a career best 12 points in an 106-82 victory over the Indiana Fever on August 4. She’s played 26 games and is averaging 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per contest.
“Coming from Rutgers, I played the four, but here I’ve had to learn how to play the wing,” Laney said. “I have been working on my ballhandling and being tighter with the ball.
"I am learning to make decisions on the perimeter. I think I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go and continue to work on things that I can improve upon so I can become a better ballplayer for my team.”
The Sky have six games remaining and Laney is enjoying her time in the WNBA. She’s looking forward to contributing during Chicago’s stretch run as the Sky battle for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Laney will play in Australia during the offseason.
“This is not a job for me,” Laney said. “I love it here and it’s great to get paid for what you love to do.
"Moving to Chicago was great.
"My mom still comes out to visit, support me and to see how I am doing. I am enjoying being independent. I am really excited (to play overseas during the offseason). It will give me an opportunity to work on a few things in the offseason, keep learning and getting better.”
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