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May 31, 2016

Editor's Note: "In her words" is a segment where uncut interviews are posted for your enjoyment; remember these are unedited so there are minor interruptions and background noise and music.
 
Alana Beard has the most WNBA experience of anyone on the Los Angeles Sparks roster.

Known for her defensive prowess throughout her career, a healthy Beard is playing at the top of her game once again, and the Sparks, who used to think defense was a four letter word, are holding their opponents to a league low 71.4 points per game.

No surprise they are 5-0, tied with Minnesota for the best record in the league. Minnesota, it is worth noting, is second in points allowed at 75 per game.

Beard is the shut down guard in the starting lineup, defending the other team's best outside shooter most of the time she is in the game. A deep bench and solid rotations have allowed coach Brian Agler the luxury of limiting Beard to just over 26 minutes per game.

Still, the 34 year old Beard is sitting on top of the WNBA steals leaders at 3.2 per game.

On offense, she's hitting over 53 percent of her shots, scoring nine points per game. On a team with Candace Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Kristi Toliver and more, scoring is not nearly as important as her defense and ball movement.

Before the Sparks' recent game with the Connecticut Sun, we caught up with Beard and talked about her health, the Sparks' start, what's different with the team this year, the struggles going on at her alma mater Duke University, and more.

So, for your listening pleasure, in her own words, here is Alana Beard.