Hebard draws inspiration from WNBA players on and off court
As a WNBA rookie, Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks has soaked up the expertise and experience of her older teammates like a sponge.
Twelve games in, she has learned a ton about the pro game.
But she has learned even more off the court.
“It’s so cool to see and be surrounded by not only great athletes but great role models,” Hebard said. “It is very inspiring to see moms and leaders and just women who care about making this world a better place.
“I love the WNBA!”
Hebard, of West Valley High fame, has picked up her play over the last six games compared to the first six games. Her minutes are up, her scoring numbers are up and her defensive rating is up.
All while her team, the Chicago Sky, sit atop of the Eastern Conference with an 8-4 record.
Hebard is averaging 4.8 points in 11.7 minutes and shooting .650 from the floor on a 13-for-20 clip over the last half dozen games. She also earned her first start.
“I am more confident in the offense I am getting used to playing with my new teammates and that helps a lot,” she said. “I have a great point guard and great players around me who can all score.”
Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot ranks No. 5 all-time in WNBA history in assists and in a recent 84-82 win over Las Vegas she became the first WNBA player to record 15 points, 15 assists and 6 rebounds in a game.
The Sky are fourth in the league in scoring at 85.9 points per game.
Hebard can score with the best of them; at the University of Oregon she racked up 2,368 career points – the most for a player from Alaska – and set an NCAA record by making 33 consecutive field goals.
“The WNBA is definitely more physical compared to college, so I am learning to hit first if that makes sense,” she said. “I think I’m just becoming more and more physical and aggressive. I know offense starts with defense and I can control how hard I work.”
Hebard has earned a plus-9 rating in each of the last two games (both wins) and has been in plus territory for four straight games, an indicator of her productivity on both sides of the ball.
Hebard, 22, is just the fifth Alaskan to play in the WNBA.