Six months ago Tajama Abraham was an All-American center leading the GW women’s basketball team to new heights. Only a half a year later she is a role player for the Women’s NBA’s Sacramento Monarchs.
The transition has not been easy.
Abraham has had difficulty adjusting to the increased skill level and physical play in the WNBA.
“Its been hard. The physical level of the game is just 10 times greater than any type of competition I’ve been in during college or all-star games,” Abraham said. “But you have to remember, I’m playing with players who have been playing for nine or 10 years, where as this is my first step out into the real world.”
Although Abraham has played in every game this season for Sacramento, she mostly comes off the bench. Abraham started only five games, averaging 15 minutes of playing time. Through the first 25 games of the WNBA season, Abraham was averaging 4.3 points and 2 rebounds per game. She has 11 blocks on the season and is shooting 63 percent from the field.
“I’ve been improving every game,” Abraham said. “I’ve been told I’m going to be a player to be reckoned with in the next few years. People say the moves are there, I just have to get stronger.”
Playing alongside one of the league’s leading scorers in Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Abraham’s offense has not had the chance to flourish. She is no longer the first option offensively, as she was in college. When she is given the ball, Abraham has had a harder time scoring against bigger and stronger defenders.
But as Abraham’s offensive talents have largely not been called upon, her defense has become a main staple of her game.
“My role has changed from college,” Abraham said. “In college I wasn’t known for my defense . here, the coach looks to me to help contain players, so my offensive abilities have not been recognized.”
Like many rookies, Abraham has shown flashes of future success. She scored a career high 13 points in a game July 21 and has slowly been adjusting to the increased levels of skill and physical play which have come with playing against some of the best women’s basketball players in the world. Abraham sees a long career for herself in a league that has been more popular than expected in its first season.
“We’ve drawn bigger crowds than were anticipated by the offices of the WNBA,” Abraham said. “We draw a different audience then the men’s game. Because of that I think there are a lot of people there to support us.”
Although she sees a bright future for the WNBA, Abraham admits that play in the league this season has been sloppy.
“It has been a little sloppy because this is the first year and you’re throwing together players from different countries with different work ethics and different mentalities,” Abraham said.
“Next year it’ll be much better and they’ll build on that.”
Abraham says many players would like to see the WNBA’s short 27 game season extended because the off-season is too long. In the eight months she will not be playing for Sacramento, Abraham says she would like to return to the Washington area, and may accept an assistant coaching position at George Mason University.
“I like the Washington area, and besides, I have to see Khadija (Deas), Mandisa (Turner), Chasity (Myers) and big Dee (Brown) play.”