… a team you probably don’t know very well. In fact, you may not even know anyone on their roster. That team is…
… the Chicago Sky!
After what I witnessed Friday night at the Allstate Arena I’m a believer.
The Sky gave their 5,019 fans a thrilling come-from-behind 98 to 91 victory over the Tulsa Shock that included a 3-point basket with one-tenth of a second remaining in regulation to force overtime. It’s the second consecutive miracle win the team has put together and both were possible because of buzzer-beating 3-point shots by league leading scorer Epiphany Prince.
The 5’9” guard is leading the WNBA in scoring after stringing together games of 31, 33 and 32 points. On Friday, with the Sky behind by three points with seven seconds remaining in regulation Prince got the in-bound pass and weaved down the length of the court past a couple of defenders before launching a shot over 6’4” Tulsa Shock forward Jennifer Lacy which banked in for the tie. The crowd cheered wildly in contrast to the soft-spoken Prince who offered up a fist pump and after the game simply said, “I was just excited that we had more time to play.” She was even unfazed by her third straight 30 point-plus game, “It really doesn’t mean anything, I’m just happy we are winning.”
Sky Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman had a better grip on Prince’s play, “She is doing some incredible things late, under adverse conditions, to give us opportunities to come back and win games that were almost taken away from us,”
Chatman was referring to the blown leads the Sky has had in their last two games. On Friday it was an inordinate amount of turnovers that saw them blow a 13-point lead. In fact, their 27 giveaways was a team record. So while the team is leading the league with a franchise best start of 5-1 they still have imperfections.
But, there’s so much to admire of this Sky team. If the formula in the NBA that you need three All-Stars to win championships applies in the WNBA too then the Sky is covered. Beside Prince, there’s 6’6” center Sylvia Fowles who was named WNBA player of the month for May and leads the league in rebounding and field goal percentage. She’s also 4th in scoring 2nd in blocks and first in presence. Watching her play is fascinating because she so active on both ends of the court. Her 21 rebounds Friday night were almost as much as Tulsa’s entire team of 31.
Fowles will play on this year’s U.S. Olympic team and will be joined by the Sky’s third star, Swim Cash. The 6’1” forward was the team’s key acquisition during the offseason. She brings a winning pedigree of three WNBA championships (2003, 2006 and 2010), five All-Star game appearances (including two MVPs) an Olympic Gold medal and two NCAA Championships (2000 and 2002). Only 15 players have played more minutes in the WNBA than Cash.
Beside Prince, Fowles, and Cash the Sky were complimented on Friday by playmaking guard Courtney Vandershoot, forwards Tamera Young, Le’Coe Willingham, rookie Sonya Petrovic and centers Ruth Riley and Carolyn Swords.
The names probably don’t mean much to you now, but you may want to become acquainted with them because the feeling is you may be saluting them in victory parade next October. At least, we can hope.
– Epiphany Prince is now the second player in WNBA history (Houston’s Cynthia Cooper is the other) to score 30 or more points in three straight games.
– Sylvia Fowles was the WNBA’s player of the month for May
– The team acquired four veterans during the off-season pushing their average age up to 27.45, fourth highest in the league. Friday’s opponent, Tulsa, is the youngest at 24.82
– The team’s next home game is June 13 against the league’s oldest team, the Seattle Storm (average age 28.09)