In her sixth season in Chicago, forward Tamera Youngs tenacity and focus helped take the Sky to new levels in 2014. As the most consistent member of the Skys starting five this year, she played in all 34 of the teams regular season games and 9 postseason games, making starts in all but one of them to bring the Sky its first-ever conference championship title.
Throughout the course of the 2014 season, Head Coach Pokey Chatman called on Young more than ever to be a leader for the Sky, presenting her with opportunities to reach new heights. As a player whos known for her competitive nature, Young did not disappoint, setting new career highs on both offense and defense while seeing playing time at three different positions. Within the Skys fluctuating roster, she served as a small forward, power forward, and shooting guard, taking on every challenge that came her way.
As Youngs time on the court increased to a career-high 27.6 minutes per game, the third most on the team, she shot a personal best 43.8% from the field and averaged 6.7 points per game. Her offensive production also soared in 2014, as she scored 10+ points on nine separate occasions during the regular season. She recorded a season-high 15 points in a 102-88 loss to Los Angeles on June 6th, and she tallied 14 points against the Sparks again on July 1st to help the Sky to a 90-83 win. Her offensive spark helped lead the Sky to a season sweep of the Liberty, as she scored 11, 13 and 12 points against them to carry the Sky to a trio of victories on June 18th, June 27th, and July 31st. Chicagos 105-100 win over New York on June 18th also marked Youngs first career double-double performance, as she tallied 12 rebounds, all defensive, to match her eleven points. Additionally, the six-foot-two forward had a lot of offensive success against Atlanta this season, tallying 14 points in an 81-79 loss on July 13th and 10 in a 79-75 win on July 25th.
At the same time, Tamera Young was excelling on defense. She followed up her 12-rebound performance on June 18th with another 12-rebound game in a loss on July 9th against Washington. She also contributed 9 rebounds each in three games in the span of two weeks, including back-to-back games on June 20th and 22nd, as the Sky fell to Indiana 75-83 and Tulsa 99-105. Her third performance came on July 1st against the Sparks, when the Sky took a 90-83 victory. Youngs defensive success showed in the record books, as she shattered her previous record for defensive rebounds. She ended the year with a total of 136, which is 41 more than her previous career high.
As the playoffs began and her teammates returned from illness and injury, Young was tasked with guarding a few of the WNBAs biggest offensive powerhouses. The first round brought the Dreams Angel McCoughtry, who averaged 18.5 points per game during the regular season. Young held her to 24 points in the Skys 80-77 win in Game 1 on August 22nd and 17 points in Game 3 on August 26th as the Sky rode an 81-80 comeback win into the second round. While guarding McCoughtry, Young also made major contributions to the Skys offense in the first round, scoring 12 points in Game 1 and 16 points in Game 3, which marked her best offensive performance on the year.
In the second round, she took on the challenge of guarding Fever standout Tamika Catchings. While Catchings had averaged 16.1 points per game during the regular season, Young managed to hold her to just 11.7 points per game during Round 2, including a playoff-low 9 points in the Skys 75-62 win in Game 3 on September 3rd. In the Finals, she was matched up against Phoenixs Candice Dupree, who had averaged 14.5 points per game in 2014. Once again, Young did all she could, holding Dupree to just 10 points in a 97-68 Game 2 loss on September 9th. Throughout the playoffs, Young averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, contributing on all fronts as a leader for the Sky.
As the 8th overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Young became the first player from James Madison University to play in the WNBA. Her jersey is retired at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, where both she and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan went to school. After an incredibly successful 2014 season, this fan favorite will definitely be ready to do it all again in 2015.