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Sky is the limit
Despite winning seven of its first eight games to start the 2012 season, the injury-ridden Chicago Sky only won seven of its 26 remaining games, forcing the team to miss yet another playoff appearance. Heading into its eighth season, the team has never participated in the postseason.
When the 2013 WNBA draft began April 15, the Sky used its second overall pick to satisfy the team’s need for a forceful forward, taking Delaware University’s Elena Delle Donne. The team also drafted Baylor University forward Brooklyn Pope in the third round.
According to Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman, the Sky selected Delle Donne over media darling and former Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins because Delle Donne is a more versatile player.
“[Delle] Donne filled a need at multiple positions for us and is a better complement [than Diggins] to the current roster,”
Delle Donne, who averaged 26 points and 8 rebounds as a senior, can play shooting guard, small forward, forward and center with small lineup, according to Chatman. Delle Donne, who is 6’ 5”, said she is most comfortable playing either forward position but is willing to play any position Chatman wants.
Pope is a more traditional forward who bangs bodies near the rim and is expected to help the Sky grab more defensive and offensive rebounds. Chatman said having her on the roster will take pressure off current center Sylvia Fowles. Last season, Fowles averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Although the starting five is not official, Chatman has an idea of what her team is going to look like on May 27 when the Sky kick off the 2013 season against the Phoenix Mercury in Arizona. Current Sky guard Epiphany Prince, guard Courtney Vandersloot, forward Swin Cash, Fowles and Delle Donne are the front-running five, Chatman said.
“I don’t think veteran players are going to lay down and let rookies come in there and own things, but I think Delle Donne’s skill set gives her an upper hand,” Chapman said.
Delle Donne said her ability to score from anywhere on the court will help space the floor for her teammates, especially for Fowles down in the post area.
“I think playing alongside Fowles, Vandersloot, Prince, Cash—all those players are awesome,” Delle Donne said. “I think I’m going to fit in really well into that system. I think we will be able to create some room for [Fowles] inside.”
Although Delle Donne dubbed her new Head Coach as defensive-minded, Chatman said she wants to make players comfortable offensively. Chatman said she expects her team to play an up-tempo style of offense because of the talent she has on the roster.
Chatman does not expect her team to be a “run and gun” type of offense that rushes to score but said she has players like Fowles who can run up and down the floor like a guard. But Chatman also said that when things slow down in a half court setting, she expects her team to be able to score near the basket.
“I think we have pretty good size and speed,” Chatman said. “We can space the floor. We also want to be able to pound it inside when we can.”
Chatman said the team should have confidence in the upcoming season because of the great start it had in 2012. She said last season’s injuries were beneficial in preparing the team for this season by freeing playing time for some of her players who lacked experience.
After starting the season 7–1, the Sky lost Prince to a Jones fracture in her right foot during the team’s second loss of the season against the Indiana Fever on June 16. She averaged a team high 18 points per game prior to the injury.
“I think the fact of what’s possible should be prevalent in the players mind,” Chatman said. “But also with the injuries we were able to have some players step in and get some quality minutes.”