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Becky Hammon brings pace, space to Aces training camp

Becky Hammon wants to establish an identity.

The Aces coach, who arrived in Las Vegas a few days before the start of training camp, knows how she wants her team to play. She wants players who will be unselfish with the basketball, push the pace of the game and space the floor with shooting.

“It’s pretty simple, it’s pretty basic,” Hammon said.

With her training camp roster set and about three weeks until the Aces’ first WNBA game May 6, Hammon needs to install her system, condition her players and figure out how to integrate those returning from playing overseas.

The players already are beginning to understand the basics and see the benefits of their new coach’s approach.

“She doesn’t want us to be her puppets,” forward A’ja Wilson said. “She’s just like, ‘Go ahead and do you.’”

After falling short of a WNBA finals appearance last season, the Aces went through a drastic front office and coaching staff makeover. They hired Hammon away from the San Antonio Spurs, where she was an assistant coach, and Natalie Williams as general manager.

Hammon appreciates the team’s strong foundation and wants to build off its achievements. She also knows she has a lot to teach during training camp and acknowledged her lessons will take a delicate balance.

The team still needs to condition to reach basketball speed, and Hammon said current standouts are benefiting from dedicated offseasons. She mentioned forward Dearica Hamby and point guard Kelsey Plum as players who have returned near peak performance.

The Aces are without guard Chelsea Gray, who tweaked an ankle but might return this week, Hammon said.

Players said they’re excited about Hammon’s vision for the team. Hamby admitted the offseason was a bit of a roller coaster, but said the common goals have smoothed out any difficulties.

“They’re still trying to figure it out, and we’re trying to figure it out,” she said. “But we’re all committed to the same goal of winning a championship.”

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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