Shoni Schimmel working her way back

University of Louisville women’s basketball fans waited patiently for Shoni Schimmel, of the Atlanta Dream, to be sent into a televised WNBA game against the Tulsa Shock on Tuesday, believing Shoni could provide an offensive boost. She never got on the floor, however, in an 85-75 home floor loss.

Shoni, they figured, would be just what the Dream needed on a night when former UofL great Angel McCoughtry was scoring 25 points. Wasn’t going to happen.Shoni-Schimmel-UofLCardGame

Schimmel sat in the same spot on the bench all night, never removing her light blue warmup jersey. No way Coach Michael Cooper was going to insert her in the game, win or lose. The Dream never had the lead, losing its seventh game in 12 starts, and in last place in the Eastern Division.

She’s apparently out of shape, unable to contribute effectively after taking the off season away from basketball. Well almost. Shoni did help her mother coach their high school basketball team.

“The bottom line is she understands the magnitude of being a professional basketball player, a professional athlete now,” Cooper told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s about keeping your body in tip-top shape all year around to where when you come to training camp, training camp shouldn’t be a time for you to get in shape, training camp is a time to take the shape you’re in and take it to another level with your teammates.”

Schimmel has played in 10 games, starting in two of them, while averaging only 15.1 minutes per game. She’s managing only 4.4 points and 2.4 points assists per game.

“I’m not too worried about it, and I don’t think Coop is either,” said Schimmel. “We have an understanding there.”

Schimmel expects to return to top shape in about three weeks.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

20 thoughts on “Shoni Schimmel working her way back”

  1. I’m a relatively new fan of Shoni’s, having recently discovered her through watching the fine documentary film “Off The Rez.” I’ve swiftly caught up with her career through reading and watching everything I could find, and have become a huge fan. I’ve noticed Shoni’s glaring dropoff in playing time and production this season, and now I know why. I hope upon hope that Shoni truly “gets it,” as she indicates she does. After all she’s achieved, and the long road she and her family have traveled to get here, it would be a tragic waste to lose everything for such a shallow reason as not staying in shape. I know I’m not alone in praying that Shoni now realizes that “professional” is a year-round label, requiring year-round effort and maintenance. I hope that’s part of the “understanding” she refers to between herself and Coach Cooper.(PERSONAL DISCLAIMER: I have a personal connection to Native American culture in general and “Native ball” in particular after spending a winter in an Arctic Native Alaskan village called Fort Yukon and following the village’s boys and girls high school basketball teams through a season for a book I wrote titled “Eagle Blue: A Team, A Tribe, and a Winter in Arctic Alaska.”)

  2. Wonder if Coach Cooper realizes women of the WNBA are all shapes and sizes. The Dream are missing out, Shoni can contribute to the team and will if given the chance. Shoni has basketball IQ. She isn’t selfish and she knows teamwork.

    I am appalled at the hateful comments by some of the Dream’s Facebook fans and some other WNBA Facebook fans for fat shaming her as well as the other disgusting things they say to tear her down. There is a difference between criticizing and bullying. Where is the tolerance and respect for others?

    1. Seems to me that social media is on the verge of negating itself. It’s a new phenomenom, enabling some to post opinions not worthy of public exposure. The challenge is to recognize the garbage for what it is and ignore it. Lots of companies these days ruining careers by running at the first sign of any criticism, only adding to the problem.

    2. Michael Cooper was coaching in the WNBA when Shoni was literally just coming out of diapers. Of course he knows the league has different body types. It is not about that. It is about the fact that Shoni needs to get into playing shape. She is a professional athlete and she needs to treat her body as such if she wants to keep her job. Plain and simple. Her basketball IQ means nothing if she can’t get up and down the court. He told her point blank that she needs to get into shape. It seems as if she is taking his words to heart so good for her but don’t mistake constructive criticism for negativity.

      1. “Michael Cooper was coaching in the WNBA when Shoni was literally just coming out of diapers.”

        When you use the term “literally,” what you say should ACTUALLY be true.

        Here’s what’s true: Shoni Schimmel was born May 4, 1992. The WNBA didn’t even exist until 1997. Cooper didn’t coach in the WNBA until 1999.

        Unless you believe Shoni Schimmel was in diapers until she was 7 years old, you might want to re-think your use of the term “literally.”

  3. I agree with being in shape. Absolutely. I was referring to the malicious comments made by some fans not the Coach. I read the article, he also had positive things to say about her. He talked about her basketball IQ. Shoni is not the only player who needs improvement. The whole team needs to improve both offensively and defensively. One person cannot do it all. They need everybody on team to contribute. I’m not trying to be negative. Women’s sports already have too many haters.

  4. The ship has sailed for Shoni. She is done as a pro. Hope I’m out in left field on my opinion though.

    1. You may be Wade, but she is Shoni Schimmel! It is way too early to be predicting her demise. It is likely this is lesson learned for her, and she will not make that mistake again.

      Btw, from what I saw, the team needs her shooting, they missed so many open looks she would have sent through the nets. Angel looked strong.

  5. Coop-a-loop played for that slave driver Pat Riley. One year, the players even blamed Riley for overworking them in practices right before the NBA Finals which they would end up losing. Point is Cooper’s coaching style is heavily influenced by Riley. Hence, I am not surprised one bit that he is not appreciative of someone who did not come into camp in top condition.

  6. It sounds as though its the Dream fans making comments on social media who don’t understand that everyone doesn’t look alike, even in professional sports. Michael Cooper isn’t talking about her weight or what her body looks like. He’s talking about her showing up at training camp without the conditioning to play full out for more than a few minutes. WNBA rosters are small and there are a lot of really good players out there, so there’s always somebody who could take your spot if you’re not playing your best. A contract in the WNBA doesn’t mean you can’t be waived, any more than it means that they can force you to play. There’s never a guarantee that you’ve got that roster spot, unless you are very good and you show up ready to play. If he didn’t understand how good she is, how good she is for the team, and that this is a lesson she need to learn and will learn from having to sit out, she’d be out of a job. This is exactly what it looks like when a good coach cares enough about a player to put in the time to correct her when she makes a mistake.

  7. Right now, Shoni is a defensive liability to the Dream. Michael Cooper, as some may remember from his NBA years, is all about the defense. When the Dream was here in the KFC YUM! Center for the Atlanta Dream Classic, Shoni was getting schooled by the Washington Mystics guards…even by a couple who ended up not making the roster. In the last game she played in, she had one assist and two turnovers with no points in two minutes.

    Cooper outlined a calorie reduction plan and Shoni seems to be adhering to it. The Dream carry seven guards on their roster, so Cooper seems to believe he can sit one down for awhile. It would be nice to see Shoni get back into playing shape. Tiffany Hayes is getting it done as a two guard, Angel is solid at the three…but the revolving door at point guard for Atlanta is costing them.

  8. We all love Shoni or we wouldn’t be at sites like this. For me one of the great things about athletics is that almost everyone that participates eventually reaches a level that really challenges them. For most of us that are less gifted than the Shoni’s of this world it might come in middle school, junior high, high school or college. For those rare few gifted folks like Shoni sometimes it doesn’t come till they’re a pro. As a ULWBB fan it hurts to see her having to go through this in front of the entire pro WBB world. Most of us didn’t have that burden because we didn’t have that level of talent to begin with.

    She’s a gifted kid that has pretty much been able to write her own ticket all the way through college ball. It’s clear that Walz did a masterful job of mentoring her through her years at UofL. Few college coaches could have done what he did with her and grown the program at the same time.

    I’ve been watching the Dream media accounts and there’s been some pretty unnecessarily hurtful things being thrown around. Shoni has never been an even average one-on-one defender. She and Jude get by defensively with their high BBIQ and playing the angles and gaps on defense. They don’t have quick feet and Shoni has been getting crushed from day one on defense since becoming a pro. That is a fact that no one that understands the game will dispute. Cooper can’t have her in the game if every time she checks in she gets isolated and burned. Doesn’t matter how many points she can score if she can’t defend at all. She was way less than an average defender last season and with the added lbs she’s even worse this year. The fact that she seemed unable to connect her lack of significant playing time last year with her defensive deficiencies and fix it over the off season is totally on her.

    I hope she comes around and makes it as a pro. That said, she may not. There have been many great CBBallers that were unstoppable in college that were totally forgettable as a pro. Christian Laettner comes to mind.

    Nothing but best wishes for her but she needs to get going. Should be pretty interesting to see how she does. I’m still enough of a homer to put my money on Shoni.

    1. Shoni Schimmel seems like a tweener as well. Smallish for the 2, and not experienced enough to run the point. Cooper originally thought: “Magic Johnson wasn’t a point guard in college either, but both can make fancy passes. So, maybe Shoni Schimmel can be our point guard.”

      I agree that Schimmel is not a great defensive player. Add to that her still learning a new position + not in top condition = sitting on the bench.

  9. Shoni will be back! She knows what’s required of her and she’s gonna fix it
    She has a lot of ppl praying for her and prayers are powerful. I’m a bit surprised that she wasn’t made aware of her off season requirements. Playing overseas and staying in shape. I know she made a lot of appearances at various places working with tribal youth. She knows she has a lot of expectations and she will meet them. Hang in there Shoni and don’t let anyone’s negative attitudes get to you.

    1. The unconditional love and appreciation shown by Natives for Shoni continues to be impressive. I imagine it’s a pretty heavy burden for her. All true ULWBB fans are totally pulling for her. There’s lots of season to go still…

  10. Shoni’s got this! she knows what it takes and if she says shes not worried about it, I believe in her! watch and see.. she loves this game too much to let it slip away.

  11. It seems like it’s a lesson learned, she needs to take it serious. I thought she would work on her defense on the off season but let herself go, shame but I hope in the future she keeps in shape and works on every aspect of her game

  12. Shoni made the All-Star team again, had a good showing, though her shooting percentage was not up to par. Apparently, she learned enough from Coach’s admonitions to get her game back to All-Star level.

    Is selection for that show done by the fans?

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