2014 Season Part 4

The Sky advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history in 2014, against the Phoenix Mercury of the Western Conference. The Mercury held the best record in the WNBA during the regular season with a 29-5 record. The Mercury’s 29 victories also set a league record for most wins in a season, and set the Sky up for a tough challenge in the Finals.

In Game One in Phoenix, the Sky were defeated 83-62 despite 13 points from Allie Quigley and a double-double performance from Sylvia Fowles, who scored 19 points and collected 11 rebounds. In Game Two, also in Phoenix, Elena Delle Donne and Epiphanny Prince scored 22 and 15 points, respectively. While the team played far more aggressively than in Game One, the Sky lost 97-68. In Game Three, the Sky played its best game of the season. Delle Donne, Fowles, and Quigley scored 23, 20, and 19 points, respectively, and the Sky put themselves in a position to win and force a game four. However, Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree played well, each scoring 24 points and adding five and six assists respectively. Taurasi stepped up in the 4th quarter, scoring 14 of her 24 points during the period. As a result, while the game was close throughout, with the Sky even leading by two after three quarters, Taurasi’s play in the 4th was too much and the Sky who ultimately lost 87-82.

While the Sky’s season did not end exactly as anticipated, the team had the 5th overall pick in the 2015 draft, by virtue of having the fifth worst record in the WNBA during the 2014 regular season. With the team having a high draft pick and seeming poised to continue their success, everyone was looking forward to a highly anticipated 2015 season.


2014 Season Part 3

The Sky finished their regular season with a 15-19 record, good for 4th place in the Eastern Conference and a spot in the playoffs. Following the regular season, Sky guard Allie Quigley was named the Sixth Woman of the Year in the WNBA after averaging 11.2 PPG and shooting .387 from beyond the arc. Quigley appeared in all 34 games for the Sky and played a significant role off the bench, helping the Sky reach the postseason for the second consecutive year.

In the playoffs, the Sky faced off against the top-seeded Atlanta Dream in the first round, a team that the Sky had gone 3-2 against in the regular season. In addition to the Sky and Dream, the Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever also made the playoffs. In Game One against the Dream on August 22nd, the Sky made history by defeating them 80-77 for the franchise’s first ever playoff victory. The Sky was led by the five starters who all scored in double digits. A particularly strong performance came from Sylvia Fowles, who, in 39 minutes of play, recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. After losing Game Two, the Sky were faced with a winner-take-all Game Three. While the Sky were down 17 as late as the 7:51 mark in the 4th quarter, the team did not quit. With the team’s entire starting five returning to the court, the Sky went on a 26-8 run which was capped by Elena Delle Donne’s two-pointer with eight seconds remaining in the game that sealed the win. The incredible comeback gave the Sky an 81-80 victory and a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals facing the Indiana Fever, against whom the team had gone 2-3 during the regular season.

The Sky struggled in Game One of the Conference Finals and lost to the Fever, but they looked to rebound in Game Two at home at Allstate Arena. The game was close throughout, with the Sky trailing by four entering the final quarter. The 4th quarter went back and forth between the teams and, when Tamera Young hit a game tying two-pointer with one second left in the game, the contest went to overtime. The Sky were eventually able to pull out the victory by a score of 86-84 in double overtime. The win marked their first playoff triumph at home in franchise history, and forced a deciding Game Three. The team was once again led by Fowles, who scored a team high 27 points, in addition to nine rebounds and three blocks.

In Game Three, the Sky were faced with the challenge of winning an Eastern Conference Championship on the road. However, the team dominated from the start and was aided tremendously by Allie Quigley, who scored a team-high 24 points in 26 minutes off the bench. With Quigley’s great play and other strong performances from Fowles and Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky won 75-62 to advance to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, where they would face the Phoenix Mercury, who held the best record in the WNBA during the regular season.


2014 Season Part 2

Heading into the All-Star break, the Sky had not achieved what they had hoped to at the outset of the season. Dealing with injuries to two of their best players, Sylvia Fowles and Elena Delle Donne, the Sky lost 13 of its final 16 games prior to the midseason break, leaving them with an 8-14 record after a 5-1 start. In the absence of the two stars, other players did step up, including forward Jessica Breland, who earned a spot on the WNBA Eastern Conference All-Star team for her stand-out performances. Breland played an important role for the East in the All-Star game, collecting six points and twelve rebounds in 22 minutes of the East’s 125-124 overtime victory. In addition to Breland, Delle Donne was also named an All-Star even though her time on the court had been limited during the first half due to Lyme Disease, which also forced her to miss the All-Star game.

To begin the second half of the regular season, the Sky faced the Indiana Fever. Desperately needing a win, the Sky defeated the Fever 60-57. The team was largely carried by Fowles, who recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while adding five blocks. Sky guard Epiphanny Prince also added 13 points to help give the team the edge for their ninth overall win. With the victory, the Sky began a second half push that saw them go 7-5 over their final 12 games. Other highlights during this period included two wins each against the playoff bound Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics, as well as a 13-point victory over the New York Liberty in Elena Delle Donne’s return on July 31st.

At the conclusion of the season, the Sky found themselves with a 15-19 record and in a tie for the 4th and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with the rival New York Liberty. However, because the Sky had a perfect 4-0 record against the Liberty during the regular season, the Sky won the head-to-head playoff tiebreaker and advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive year. Having been swept out of the postseason in 2013, the Sky looked to improve in the playoffs in a first round matchup against the top-seeded Atlanta Dream.


2014 Season Part 1

Coming off the Sky’s most successful season in franchise history, which saw them make the playoffs for the first time ever, the team looked to continue its winning ways in 2014. To help the team protect the rim defensively, the Sky signed free agent Jessica Breland, who had a career average of 2.8 blocks per 40 minutes, to a contract in March. In addition to her blocking ability, Breland averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.0 RPG as a member of the Indiana Fever in 2013.

The team also looked to build through the WNBA draft, where they had the 10th overall pick. With the selection, the Sky chose NC State center Markeisha Gatling, who averaged 17.4 PPG and 7.2 RPG during her senior season. Gatling finished her college career with 31 straight double-digit scoring games and was first in NC State history in field goal percentage with a 0.628 mark. Gatling finished the season 11th in scoring and 7th in rebounds in the ACC. As a result of her strong play, Gatling was named to the All-ACC First Team, and was also an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention and a WBCA Division I All-America Regional Nominee.

Beyond the first round, the Sky also had second and third round selections. In the second round, the Sky drafted UC Berkeley forward Gennifer Brandon, who averaged 7.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG during her senior season. Brandon also set a Pac-12 single-game record with 26 rebounds in a game against UCLA. In the third round, the Sky selected Southern Miss point guard Jamierra Faulkner, who averaged 17.7 PPG and 8.6 APG in her final collegiate season. Her senior year also saw her lead the nation in APG, as well as breaking the 2,000-point mark. For her efforts, Faulkner was named to Conference USA’s All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team, as well as being awarded the C Spire Gillom Trophy, which recognizes the best female collegiate basketball player in he state of Mississippi.

Following the draft, the Sky began to vigorously prepare for the WNBA season. The team played its first preseason game in Orlando against the Indiana Fever, who the Sky had lost to in the Eastern Conference semifinals the previous year, winning by a score of 73-66. The team was bolstered by strong performances off the bench from 3rd round draft pick Jamierra Faulkner, who scored 11 points, and free agent signing Sequoia Holmes, who scored 10 in the absence of Sky star Sylvia Fowles. While the Sky lost their next game, the team won their final preseason game at the Bob Carpenter Center (BOB) in Delaware. The win was fueled by Delle Donne’s double-double, 17 point and 10 rebound performance and it was significant because the BOB was the arena in which Elena Delle Donne played during her collegiate career.

The Sky opened its regular season against the Fever at Allstate Arena on May 16th, a game the team won by a score of 74-71. Significant performances by Elena Delle Donne, who scored 23 points, as well as Jessica Breland and Sasha Goodlett, who each nearly recorded a double-double, helped lead the team to victory. Following opening night, the team won four of its next five games, giving the team a strong 5-1 start.

While the team had a strong start to the season, injuries were a significant problem early. Sylvia Fowles did not play a single minute during the Sky’s initial 5-1 stretch, and would go on to miss the team’s first 13 games recovering from offseason hip surgery, finally starting versus the Connecticut Sun on June 25th. Meanwhile, Elena Delle Donne missed significant time battling Lyme disease, playing in only three games between the end of May and the All-Star game. In addition, Courtney Vandersloot missed 15 games with a sprained MCL. While the team did its best to overcome these injuries, they had difficulty succeeding without several of their key players. Following the team’s fifth win, a 19-point triumph over the Connecticut Sun on May 30th, the Sky lost 13 of its next 16 games going into the All-Star break. While the Sky had an 8-14 record going into the second half, the team hoped to regain its early season dominance with a far healthier lineup and claim its second consecutive playoff appearance.


The Wins Keep Coming – 2013

As the first half of the season came to a close, the Sky were sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference and rookie and top all-star vote getter Elena Delle Donne would be making her first WNBA All-star appearance alongside teammates Epiphanny Prince (second appearance) and Sylvia Fowles (third appearance).

In the 2013 All-Star game, rookie sensation Delle Donne was unfortunately unable to participate due to a concussion, but her two Sky teammates made a huge impact for the East although the West team came away victorious 102-98 in front of a raucous crowd of over 9,000 in Connecticut. Prince would end up starting for the East team and would finish the game tied for a team-high 15 points. Fowles would come off the bench and help pour in six points and capture four rebounds.

Riding the hot streak of the first half of the season, the Sky picked off right where they left off. The Sky would open the second half of the 2013 season at home with a game against the Washington Mystics. The team was without rookie star Delle Donne, who was still sidelined with her concussion injury. Other players stepped up in her absence and against the Mystics. Fowles dropped a double-double while pouring in 32 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

Although the Sky would drop their next two games, the team would go on a tear in the month of August to post a 9-3 record and clinching the organization’s first playoff berth on August 23 and then clinching the Eastern Conference regular season title on August 31. The Sky finished the second half of the regular season winning eight of their last 10 games to secure the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and a date with the Indiana Fever in the first round of the 2013 WNBA Playoffs.


Playoffs and Awards – 2013 Season

For the first time in Chicago Sky history, there would be playoff basketball at Allstate Arena. Not only was a playoff berth clinched, but the Sky also clinched the Eastern Conference regular season title along with the number one overall seed in the 2013 playoffs.

The team’s first round matchup would see them facing the number four seed in the Eastern Conference and defending WNBA champions, the Indiana Fever. Their own pair of all-stars, Tamika Catchings and Shavonte Zellous, led the Fever throughout the series. With a 1-0 series lead, the Fever completed the first round upset in game two. The Fever led throughout the whole game and would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals on the heels of a 79-57 victory.

Although the Sky were eliminated in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, the young squad learned a lot about playoff basketball and would come back even stronger in the 2014 season.

Many individual players found success on the court and were honored for their stellar performances throughout the 2013 season. The Sky’s rookie sensation Elena Delle Donne was the unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year honors, joining Armintie Price as the only players in Sky history to win the league award. Sylvia Fowles was awarded for her dominant defensive play throughout the season being named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in her career (2011) and remaining the only player in Sky history to win this league award. During the season, Fowles set a franchise record with 22 rebounds on May 31st against the Connecticut Sun, which contributed to her defensive domination during the 2013 season.

Although the 2013 season didn’t end the way the team would have hoped, the awards, the wins and the playoff berth contributed to the most exciting season to date in team history.


The wins keep coming – 2013

As the first half of the season came to a close, the Sky were sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference and rookie and top all-star vote getter Elena Delle Donne would be making her first WNBA All-star appearance alongside teammates Epiphanny Prince (second appearance) and Sylvia Fowles (third appearance).

In the 2013 All-Star game, rookie sensation Delle Donne was unfortunately unable to participate due to a concussion, but her two Sky teammates made a huge impact for the East although the West team came away victorious 102-98 in front of a raucous crowd of over 9,000 in Connecticut. Prince would end up starting for the East team and would finish the game tied for a team-high 15 points. Fowles would come off the bench and help pour in six points and capture four rebounds.

Riding the hot streak of the first half of the season, the Sky picked off right where they left off. The Sky would open the second half of the 2013 season at home with a game against the Washington Mystics. The team was without rookie star Delle Donne, who was still sidelined with her concussion injury. Other players stepped up in her absence and against the Mystics. Fowles dropped a double-double while pouring in 32 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

Although the Sky would drop their next two games, the team would go on a tear in the month of August to post a 9-3 record and clinching the organization’s first playoff berth on August 23 and then clinching the Eastern Conference regular season title on August 31. The Sky finished the second half of the regular season winning eight of their last 10 games to secure the number one seed in the Eastern Conference and a date with the Indiana Fever in the first round of the 2013 WNBA Playoffs.


Keeping The Momentum – 2013 Season

With Delle Donne joining a roster of experienced veterans including Swin Cash, Courtney Vandersloot, Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince, the Sky was the team to beat to start the 2013 season.

Newcomer Delle Donne made quite the first impression on her new team and new league by putting up big numbers to open the 2013 season. She led the way for all rookies through the first ten games of the season by averaging 19.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Delle Donne was also quickly becoming a fan favorite at Allstate Arena and around the Chicago-land area.

The Sky kept their hot start of the season going into the all-star break in first place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-5. The Sky was also led by their three all-stars. Rookie and top all-star vote getter Delle Donne was making her first WNBA All-star appearance alongside teammates Prince (second appearance) and Fowles (third appearance).

The team continued to put pressure on its opponents as it moved through a hectic WNBA schedule, setting many new franchise records along the way. The Sky opened the season with its best start in history, winning its first three games and recorded its best home start record ever, winning five straight at the Allstate Arena between May 31st and June 29th.

While the Sky was finding success as a team, its players were excelling individually and started receiving recognition for their stellar play from the league. Fowles set a franchise record with 22 rebounds May 31st against Connecticut and was selected for Player of the Week honors from July 8-July 14th. Delle Donne also took back-to-back Player of the Week awards from June 24th to July 7th, and became June’s WNBA Rookie of the Month after leading all rookies in free-throw percentage (93.8%), points (19.1) and minutes (33.1) per game.

With the historic start to the season, the Sky were geared up and ready to make a push for their first ever playoff appearance in franchise history.


The Three to See – 2013

Coming into the 2013 WNBA Draft, the Sky was slotted with the No. 2 pick in the draft. With that pick, the future of the organization changed dramatically when Pokey Chatman selected Elena Delle Donne out of the University of Delaware.  Delle Donne came into the Draft with much notoriety having been part of ESPN’s “Three to See” along with Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins.

Along with the section of Delle Donne in the 2013 WNBA Draft, the Sky selected Brooklyn Pope with the No. 34 pick. The Sky also bolstered their roster by signing free agents Sharnee Zoll-Norman and free agent Michelle Campbell.

The team began the 2013 campaign with an 85-67 victory in their only preseason game against the New York Liberty, which would jumpstart a winning trend to open the season.

The beginning of the 2013 season would also signal the introduction of new assistant coach Wayne “Tree” Rollins. Rollins had a successful 18-year NBA career, playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic. In Rollins’ 1,156 game appearances, he averaged 2.2 blocked shots per game and received NBA All-Defensive First and Second Team honors.

The Sky opened the regular season with great intensity winning seven out of the team’s first ten games including a May 27th 102-80 win over a stacked Phoenix Mercury squad.

With the new additions of Rollins to the coaching staff and the collection of new players along with returning stars Courtney Vandersloot, Sylvia Fowles, Swin Cash and Epiphanny Prince, the Sky were ready to tackle the regular season and prove that it was up for the challenge to do to secure their first ever playoff berth.

 


2012 Season

Following the WNBA draft, the Sky began preparations for the 2012 season. The team opened the preseason against the Washington Mystics, which marked their first game with newly acquired all-star forward Swin Cash. After being down late, the Sky hit six free throws in the final minute to secure a 73-68 victory. Impressive performances by Sylvia Fowles with nine points and 12 rebounds, and Courtney Vandersloot, who added seven assists and did not turn the ball over, propelled the Sky to victory and showed a glimpse of what Coach Chatman could expect from this talented team during the regular season. Following their win over the Mystics, the Sky dominated the New York Liberty, 89-57. Although the Sky lost to Minnesota in their final preseason game, the team finished the preseason with a record of 2-1 and good momentum rolling into the regular season.

In their regular season opener, the Sky once again faced off against the Mystics at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, defeating them 69-57. The win was fueled by a double-double from Sylvia Fowles, who scored 23 points and had 12 rebounds, 16 points from Epiphanny Prince, and a strong overall performance from newly acquired Swin Cash, who played great defense with a block and two steals in addition to 14 points on the offensive end of the court.

Following their opener, the Sky lost their next game but then proceeded to go on a 6-game winning streak. During the streak, the Sky beat several successful teams, most notably the San Antonio Silver Stars and Atlanta Dream, both who ultimately finished with strong records and made the playoffs in 2011. The Sky’s 7-1 record was their best start in franchise history, surpassing the 5-3 mark set in 2009 to start the season. The 6-game winning streak, a Sky record, was highlighted by “Prince-sanity,” which saw Epiphanny Prince score more than 30 points in three consecutive games. Not only did Prince become just the second player in WNBA history after Cynthia Cooper to score 30 points in three consecutive contests, Prince’s scoring was also extremely timely. In each of the three games, the Sky came back from deficits in the 4th quarter and, in the final two games against Atlanta and Tulsa, Prince hit game tying 3-pointers to send the contests into overtime, both of which the Sky eventually won. The comeback against Atlanta was particularly impressive with the Sky overcoming a 22-point deficit, the largest ever in a win.

However, following their historic start, the team struggled leading into the Beijing Olympics, with their sole win coming against Atlanta in a two-point triumph at the Allstate Arena on July 1st. With the losses, the Sky’s playoff chances had taken a hit, but they hoped to recover following the Olympics to make a strong push towards the postseason.

 


Preseason 2012 – Adding Pieces to the Puzzle

The Sky started 2012 with a bang, making a blockbuster deal on January 2nd, as they traded the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Seattle Storm for Swin Cash, as well as Le’Coe Willingham. Cash, a 3-time WNBA champion who had been to the playoffs in nine of her first 10 seasons, was coming off a year in which she had per game averages of 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. Willingham, a 4-time conference and 2-time WNBA champion, had averages of 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in 2012.

In addition to the two players, the Sky also received one of Seattle’s 2nd round selections, the 23rd overall pick. With the pick, the Sky selected Shey Peddy, a guard from Temple University, in the April draft. During her senior year, Peddy averaged 17.3 PPG and helped her team make the Sweet Sixteen in the WNIT. In addition to the selection of Peddy, the Sky also selected Sydney Carter, a guard from Texas A&M.

Outside of the draft, the Sky also acquired several other players during the offseason. In early February, the Sky signed two-time WNBA champion Ruth Riley, a center who had most recently played for the San Antonio Silver Stars. Over the course of her career, Riley had averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. The signing also reunited Riley with former Shock teammate Swin Cash. Notably, the two played together during the 2003 season when the Shock won the WNBA title, which represented one of Riley’s 10 career playoff appearances.

Later the same month, the Sky signed Ticha Penicheiro, the all-time WNBA assists leader and a WNBA champion with the Sacramento Monarchs in 2005. During her time in the WNBA, Penicheiro had averaged 6.2 PPG, 5.9 APG. Prior to signing with the Sky, she had been a member of the Los Angeles Sparks, where she had averaged game 6 points per game and 4.8 assists per game during the 2011 season.

The Sky’s final addition of the offseason came with the trade for Sonja Petrovic, a Serbian national team member who had been drafted by the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2009 but who had never signed a WNBA contract. Sky coach Pokey Chatman had worked with Petrovic for several years while coaching overseas in the EuroLeague, leading to her pursuit of the forward. With all the additions, the Sky looked to improve upon their 2011 campaign and continue to build the puzzle and create a team built for a Championship run.

 


Wrapping Up 2011 & Winning Awards

2011 saw several Sky players rewarded for outstanding efforts during the season. In addition to becoming only the second player in WNBA history to average a double-double with more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game for an entire season, along with Chamique Holdsclaw in 2003, Fowles was named the WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. The race for the award was a close one, with Fowles edging out four-time winner Tamika Catchings by a single vote. Beyond averaging a 20-10, Fowles also tied a WNBA record with 22 double-doubles and led the league in blocks (2.0 BPG) and field goal percentage (.591). Another highlight of Fowles’ season came on September 10th against the Sparks, when she passed Candice Dupree to become the all-time leader in rebounding for the Sky. In addition to being named Defensive Player of the Year, Fowles was also named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive First Team and the All-WNBA Second Team.

In addition to Fowles, Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot was rewarded for her efforts during her rookie campaign. After averaging 6.5 PPG and 3.7 RPG, as well as setting the Sky single-season assists record with 124, Vandersloot was named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team. Vandersloot was also recognized by Team USA, as she was named to the 2012 National Player Pool.

While Sky players were being rewarded for their stellar play, the team itself was one of four placed in the lottery for the 1st overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft, along with the Tulsa Shock, Minnesota Lynx, and Los Angeles Sparks. In the lottery on November 10th, the Sky won the 2nd pick in the draft, following the Sparks. This marks the second time in Sky history that the team has had the number two pick in the draft, with Sylvia Fowles being selected number two overall in 2008. While the team did not earn a post-season berth their were many bright points for Coach Chatman to continue building on and with the 2nd pick in the upcoming draft, the Sky had much to be excited for going into the 2012 season.

 


First Half of 2011 Season

Following the 2011 preseason, the Sky opened at home on June 4th. This game marked the first regular season match in Pokey Chatman’s WNBA coaching career. Despite the Sky’s loss, the game was significant because Chatman’s defense held the Fever to 30 percent shooting from the field, the lowest ever to that point for a Sky opponent. Following the season opener, the Sky won three straight, and, with a 3-1 start, were tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Connecticut Sun. Chicago ended up finishing June with a 4-5 record.

The Sky started July winning two of their first three games, including a 78-65 win over the Washington Mystics, in which Sylvia Fowles scored a season-high 34 points. One of the biggest highlights of the Sky season was a game against Tulsa on July 13th. With a record crowd of 13,838 at the Allstate Arena, the Sky cruised to a 22-point victory, 74-52. The team was led by Sylvia Fowles, who posted a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds, as well as strong performances from Epiphanny Prince and Tamera Young, who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

During the first half of this season, Sylvia Fowles dominated, leading the league in PPG with 20.6, and nearly averaging a double-double with 9.3 RPG, the third best in the league. As a result of her strong play, Fowles gave herself a chance to average a double-double over an entire season, which would make her only the second player in WNBA history to achieve this milestone, after Chamique Holdsclaw did it with the Washington Mystics in 2003.

The Sky entered the All-Star break with an 8-9 record, including an incredible 7-2 record at home, good enough for 4th place in the Eastern Conference. Standing only three games behind the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Fever, the Sky was still very much in the playoff race entering the second half of the season.

 


2011 Pre-Season (January-May 2011)

After falling short of their goals for the 2010 season, the Sky looked to rebound in 2011. Holding the third overall pick in the WNBA draft after finishing 14-20 in 2010, new Head Coach & General Manager Pokey Chatman made her first ever draft pick in the WNBA selecting Gonzaga point guard Courtney Vandersloot.

Vandersloot was noted as being the only player in West Coast Conference history to be named Conference Player of the Year three times, as well as the first NCAA Division 1 basketball player to score more than 2,000 points and reach 1,000 assists. During her junior year at Gonzaga, Vandersloot led the nation in assists per game, averaging 9.4, and also scored 14.1 PPG. The next year, her final season at the collegiate level, Vandersloot averaged 19.8 PPG and hit nearly 38 percent of her three pointers, a career high. For her play as a senior, Vandersloot was awarded the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top female point guard in Division I basketball and was named to several All-American teams.

Following Vandersloot’s selection in the first round, the Sky selected three more talented players. These included second round selections Carolyn Swords, a center from Boston College, and Angie Bjorklund, a forward out of Tennessee. During her collegiate career, Swords set Boston College records in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage, while Bjorklund finished third in Tennessee history in career three-pointers. In the third round, the team selected Amy Jaeschke, a center from Northwestern and a Chicago native. During her Northwestern basketball career, Jaeschke set the school record for blocks and also finished 2nd all-time in points and rebounds.

With their roster bolstered by these exciting new draft picks the team hosted an exhibition game against the Chinese National Women’s Basketball team at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. The game was played as part of a tour by the Chinese team, which also included games against other WNBA teams such as the New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun. The Sky easily won the game by a score of 84-45.

Following their matchup against the Chinese National Women’s team, the Sky closed out their preseason against the Washington Mystics. Coach Chatman was encouraged by what the team achieved throughout training camp and all signs pointed to a positive 2011 for the Sky.

 


2010 Second Half -July 24th on (10 For Our Town)

After beginning the season at 12-12, the Sky were unable to maintain the pace and over the team’s final 10 games, they went 2-8 with their only wins coming against the Phoenix Mercury and the playoff-bound Atlanta Dream. The team ultimately finished in 6th place in the Eastern Conference with a 14-20 record.

While the season did not end as anticipated, rookie guard Epiphanny Prince was named to the WNBA All-Rookie team after averaging 9.8 PPG and 1.6 SPG, the latter of which led all first-year players. Additionally, Sky center Sylvia Fowles was named to the All-WNBA first team in September, the first such selection of her career. The honor occurred following a season in which she averaged 17.8 points per game, 6th in the WNBA, 9.9 rebounds per game, 3rd in the WNBA, and 2.6 blocks per game, which was best in the league. Fowles also set a career high in points with 35 in a 97-96 loss to the Phoenix Mercury on August 1st.

Following the 2010 season, the Sky saw significant changes in the team’s front office. On October 1st, Chief Operating Officer Adam Fox took over as President and CEO of the Sky, replacing Margaret Stender, who had held the position since the organization’s founding in 2005. Fox originally joined the organization at the end of 2007 from the Chicago Wolves and had played important roles in the team’s move to Allstate Arena as well as its first television deal.

October also saw changes on the basketball side of the business when current Head Coach and GM Steven Key was replaced with Pokey Chatman. Key led the Sky from 2008-2010, during which the team had compiled a 42-60 record. Chatman came to the Sky after previously coaching at LSU and for Spartak in the Russian League. Through her coaching experiences, she worked with many WNBA players, including Sky center Sylvia Fowles at both LSU and at Spartak, as well as Sky guard Epiphanny Prince who spent time at Spartak after leaving college early to pursue her overseas playing career. In 2010, Chatman coached her Russian team, led by Fowles, to a perfect 16-0 record and the Euroleague championship. With the changes in the organization, the Sky entered a new era for Chicago women’s basketball and there was much anticipation about the upcoming season.

 


Early 2010 Season, Season Opener

The beginning of the 2010 Sky season was highlighted by the team’s move to Allstate Arena in Rosemont after previously playing their first four seasons in the UIC Pavilion. One benefit of the move was that the Allstate Arena offered three times the capacity of the UIC Pavilion, allowing more Sky fans from all around Chicago-land the chance to see each game in person.

In the team’s first game in their new arena, a preseason contest against the Minnesota Lynx, the Sky won 74-65. The win helped the Sky to a 3-1 preseason record, including a 2-0 mark at home.

The Sky played their first 2010 regular-season game at home against the Indiana Fever on May 22, debuting in front of 6,477 fans, a franchise attendance record. Sylvia Fowles recorded a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while, off the bench, Sky rookie guard Epiphanny Prince scored 20 points in only 23 minutes of play in her first regular season game in a Sky uniform. While the team fought hard and the game went into overtime, the Sky ultimately lost 92-86. In their postgame comments, both Fowles and Price mentioned the positive effect the crowd had on the team in their new home.

Click here to view official game recap


New Year: New Home

The 2010 season marked the fifth WNBA season for the Chicago Sky and an important turning point in franchise history. After announcing the team’s change of venue at the end of the 2009 season, the Sky would officially begin playing at Allstate Arena to start the 2010 regular season.

However, before the season began the team underwent a roster makeover. With the fourth overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft, the Sky selected Epiphanny Prince from Rutgers University. Prince was renowned for setting a high school basketball scoring record when she had 113 points in a single game and she also became the first player to leave college early to pursue a professional career. With Prince, the Sky added a major offensive threat. The 5’9 guard recorded more than 1,500 points in three seasons with Rutgers and played one season abroad in Turkey where she averaged 19.1 points per game with a 47% FG average. In Prince, the Sky gained one of most versatile players in the draft class. The Sky also added center Abi Olajuwon, the daughter of NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon, with the 28th pick in the third round of the 2010 Draft.

Another offseason roster move came when the Sky took part in a three-team trade that sent Sky forward, and the tams first ever draft pick, Candice Dupree from Chicago to Phoenix, Cappie Pondexter from Phoenix to New York and Cat Kraayeveld and Shameka Christon from New York to Chicago. This trade brought the Sky two veteran players who were ready to make immediate contributions alongside the trio of Sylvia Fowles, Dominqiue Canty and Jia Perkins. With a revamped roster and the dynamic and exciting Prince as their top-pick in the draft, the Sky were ready to impress in their debut at their new home, Allstate Arena.

 


2009 Season Recap

The Sky took a big step forward in the 2009 season. Not only did they finish with the best record in franchise history at 16-18, they also compiled a 12-5 record at home. The 12 home victories matched the team’s entire win total from the previous year and also gave the Sky their first winning record at home in the franchise’s history.

The Sky were in the playoff hunt for much of the season, battling the Washington Mystics and the Connecticut Sun for the 4th and final playoff spot. At the conclusion of the regular season the Sky finished with an identical record to the Mystics and Sun but were ultimately eliminated from playoff contention, as they lost a tiebreaker to the Washington Mystics.

Reflecting on the team’s progress on the court, the 2009 season also saw the Sky reach their highest attendance figures in team history, with an average attendance of over 3,900. Of particular note was the performance of forward Candice Dupree, who led the WNBA in defensive rebounds with 192 and also finished in the top 10 in rebounding, scoring, and blocks.

Additionally, the 2009 season was the Sky’s last in the UIC Pavilion, as the team announced on August 17th that they would be moving to Allstate Arena, also the home of the Chicago Wolves hockey team, for the 2010 season. A significant benefit of the Arena was its capacity of 18,500, far larger than that of the UIC Pavilion. According to the 2009 Pollstar Survey, the Arena was ranked the 2nd busiest in the United States and 12th in the world with over 150 events annually and with the addition of the Sky, their summers were about to get a lot busier.

 


2009: Records Are Set

The Sky’s August 2009 schedule concluded with back-to-back games against the New York Liberty, which the Sky split for one win and one loss. It brought the Sky a 14-16 record dropping just below .500.

Although the Sky was likely not to make the playoffs, the team was looking to finish the season strong and dominate in September. The team won its first game of the month against Washington, 92-86 improving to 15-16. Sylvia Fowles continued her strong 2009 campaign with a team high 13 points in the game.

The team closed out the 2009 season with a game against the Indiana Fever and a pair against the Detroit Shock. Despite dropping both games to the Shock, the Sky defeated the Fever 86-79 to close the regular season with a 16-18 record. This record had the Sky in fourth place tied with Connecticut and Detroit but due to late season losses to Detroit the Sky found themselves eliminated from the playoffs on tie-breakers.

While their season did not end with a playoff appearance, it marked several high points in Sky history. Franchise player Sylvia Fowles finished the year leading the WNBA in field goal percentage. Additionally, three Sky players had been selected to the WNBA All-Star Game (Sylvia Fowles, Candice Dupree and Jia Perkins), marking the first time in franchise history for this feat. The team also finished the season with their best record and also their best home court record.

A milestone was also reached off the court as the franchise achieved its largest attendance over a full season, 66,845. Towards the end of the 2009 season the Sky made a significant announcement when it advised fans it would be leaving its original home, the UIC Pavilion, to move to a larger venue in Rosemont, IL. Allstate Arena would serve as the team’s new home for the 2010 season, enabling the franchise to draw larger crowds and add to the overall fan experience.

 


Sell-outs and Golden Moments

When the 2008 season began, the Sky was hopeful. The team brought in a strong combination of rookies and returners, and under the leadership of Steven Key the franchise was on the road to success.

After dropping its season opener at Seattle on May 17th, the Sky returned home for its first game in Chicago on May 22nd. The team faced off against Sacramento, much like it had two years before, but this time the Sky defeated the Monarchs 87-77. While the game represented a strong start for the Sky, it also marked the franchise’s first-ever home opening win.

The team recorded another franchise first two games later by experiencing its first home sellout in early June. The Los Angeles Sparks came to town on June 3rd, and with them came Candace Parker, a Chicago native and the most recent #1 draft pick. Parker’s standout play as an Illinois high school student had earned her a lot of attention, and when she returned to Chicago for her first visit as a pro she was welcomed by 6,308 friends, family members and fans at the UIC Pavilion. The Sky fell 77-81 in the game, but the team’s first taste of a full house was something it would look forward to experiencing again.

As the first half of the season continued, the Sky worked to assemble the pieces that it had brought in on its roster into a cohesive unit. The team’s experienced players continued to deliver strong performances on offense, but the Sky faced struggles as its new players learned the ropes. Jia Perkins and Candice Dupree were excelling on offense, but the Sky’s record suffered as the team faced a series of challenging opponents.

The Sky went 8-17 during the first part of the 2008 season, but during that time the team was proud of what it had been able to do in front of the home crowd. Six of the team’s eight wins had come at home, and the Sky’s home court success was helping to draw more fans to the UIC Pavilion.

Just as the Sky started to find success at home, the league took a break in August for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many of the WNBA’s strongest players had earned places on their respective national teams, including the Sky’s youngest star. As the rest of her team took a breather, Sylvia Fowles headed overseas to play for Team USA. During the tournament, Fowles averaged within the top 10 for points (13.4) and rebounds (8.9) per game, and her solid efforts helped her country earn a gold medal on the world’s biggest stage.

 


A New Face for the Franchise: April 2008-May 2008

As the Sky looked toward the start of its third season in the WNBA, there was much to be excited about. While the team had made significant improvements in its sophomore season, and with a lucky bounce of a lottery ball the Sky earn the second overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. After the Sky’s success in drafting Rookie of the Year Armintie Price at #3 in 2007, the team knew that this was a chance to add another potential young superstar.

On April 9th, the Sky used that #2 pick to select Sylvia Fowles, a 6’6 center from LSU. Fowles had recently been named the 2008 SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and she was coming off a very successful college career with the Tigers. She had led LSU to a 125-21 record, three conference titles and four straight NCAA Final Four appearances, and along the way she had set many individual records of her own. During her four years as a Tiger, Fowles set the SEC records for rebounds with 1,574 and career double doubles with 86, and she became the first player in SEC history to record a double-double in every conference game during her junior year. When she graduated from LSU, she left as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots (321), free throws made (494), free throws attempted (822) and games played. Her presence at the post helped LSU allow just 50 points per game during her senior season, the lowest average in the NCAA. Fowles’ strength on both ends of the court made her a valuable addition to the Sky’s roster, and the team hoped to see her success continue as she transitioned into the WNBA.

After adding Fowles, the Sky brought one more rookie into the fold in the second round of the draft. With the 19th overall selection, the Sky drafted Quianna Chaney, a guard who had played with Fowles at LSU. As the team looked toward its 2008 season with a pair of Tigers on the final roster, the franchise was excited to begin play and see what kind of impact these two college teammates could make.

On May 13th, the Sky introduced its new look team to Chicago during Media Day at the UIC Pavilion. The buzz was building around the team’s new rookies, and Head Coach and as the team prepared for tip-off it looked like another strong season was set to begin.

 


Growing and Changing: March 2008-April 2008

With a season of considerable growth in the books, the Chicago Sky was determined to continue building in 2008. As the franchise started to prepare for its third season in the WNBA, the team was in a very different position than it had been in the past. For the first time, the Sky was bringing in a roster comprised of mostly returning players, and with that comfort the team would look to carry its 2007 success into another year. With a positive outlook on the horizon, the young franchise seemed ready for more growth and to be able to adapt to any change that might come its way.

The change happened quicker than anticipated. On March 12th, Bo Overton resigned as the Sky’s head coach and general manager. With just eight weeks remaining until the regular season, the team needed a new leader, and this time it turned to a familiar face to fill the role. The Sky promoted assistant coach Steven Key, who had been with the Sky since its inception in 2006. Key’s familiarity with the Sky’s players and identity, along with his own playing and coaching experience in Europe, made him an ideal candidate to lead the franchise into its third year in the WNBA.

While the team was poised to make strides on the court, the franchise began to focus on making a more impactful contribution in the community. In April, the Sky launched the Sky Cares Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the team’s community outreach initiatives. Sky Cares would offer opportunities for Chicago area youth and families to learn about education, health and fitness, and the team’s programs, events and role models would serve as sources of inspiration. With the creation of Sky Cares, the franchise began to achieve its goal of giving back, and by the start of the 2008 season the team was ready to make an impact both on and off the court.

 


Closing out our Sophomore Season: July 2007-September 2007

After the 2007 All-Star break, the Sky picked up right where it had left off. The team’s early success carried over into the end of July, as the Sky won three out of its first four games back to begin the second half of the season. The franchise’s sophomore season was proving to be a competitive one, as the Sky took on a series of challenging opponents and kept the score close in almost every game. The team went 6-8 during the second half, only losing two games by more than six points, and it remained in playoff contention until the final week of the season. When the regular season ended on August 19th, the Sky had compiled a 14-20 record for a sixth place finish in the Eastern Conference, but the franchise still had a lot to be proud of thanks to its competitive performances and standout players.

Candice Dupree brought success to the Sky in her sophomore season, finishing the year as one of the WNBA’s top 10 scorers with 16.5 points per game. At the same time, she came up big on defense with 7.7 rebounds per game, which was a major increase from her rookie season.

As the Sky’s star sophomore thrived, the team’s first-round rookie followed in her footsteps and found success of her own. Armintie Price’s strong all-around play put her in third place among rookies in both scoring (7.9) and assists (2.9) per game at the end of 2007, and she also contributed 6.0 rebounds per game throughout the season. Her role as a passer, shooter and defender in all 34 of the Sky’s games helped to guide the team’s improvement, and it also earned her the 2007 WNBA Rookie of the Year title.

While the Sky’s 2007 season ended without a playoff berth, the team showed great potential for long-term success. With a strong, young roster that clicked on both ends of the court, the Sky had proved that it was heading in the right direction and ready to compete for years to come.

 


Taking it to Overtime: May 31, 2007 and June 29, 2007

While the Sky had accomplished many franchise firsts in 2006, one thing the team had yet to experience was sending a game to overtime. With the 2007 Sky already taking the franchise to places it had never been before, it seemed only natural that they would be the first squad to participate in an OT game.

The Sky’s first taste of overtime play came during its fourth game of the 2007 season, when the team hosted the Connecticut Sun at the UIC Pavilion. The Sky outscored the Sun in the first half, but the team was unable to hold off a second half rally by Connecticut. With a pair of high-scoring quarters in the second half, the Sun made a full comeback, tying the score at 86 at the end of regulation.

As the Sky found itself entering extra time for the first time in franchise history, the team turned to three of its biggest scorers in search of a win. Candice Dupree scored 3 points in overtime to end the game with 29 points, while Dominique Canty tallied 6 overtime points to end her day at 16 points and Armintie Price scored two to finish with 12 points. While all three players delivered strong performances on the day, their efforts were not enough to stop the Sun from taking a 102-97 win.

After losing its first-ever overtime game, the Sky was eager for redemption in its next overtime contest. The Sky’s next overtime experience came on June 29th against the Monarchs, and when it arrived the team drew on their last OT experience to make history. Once again, the Sky jumped out to an early lead in the first half, but Sacramento chipped away at the lead in the second and evened the score at 74 after 40 minutes. Each team scored six points in the first overtime period, and with the score locked at 80 apiece the Sky was headed to double overtime for the first time ever. As the team faced the challenge of playing the longest game the franchise had ever seen, it made the most of every moment as Jia Perkins, Candice Dupree and Armintie Price combined for 12 points in double OT to lead the Sky to a 92-84 win.

While this game went down in history for a pair of franchise firsts, it also remains in the Sky record books as the highest scoring performance by a player in team history. Jia Perkins finished the game with 39 points, including 10 in overtime, and that is a feat that no Sky player has ever matched.

 


Reflecting on the Sophomore Year: February 2007-July 2007

As the Sky’s inaugural season came to a close, they began to look toward the sophomore season. The 2007 season proved to be one full of changes, starting with Dave Cowens’ resignation as the Sky’s Head Coach and General Manager on December 12, 2006. The team found itself in need of a new leader, and it turned to Bo Overton to fill that void. Overton had been the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the Sky hoped that he would be able to help the team reach new heights in its second year.

The Sky’s quest for success in 2007 was also aided by the addition of some talented, new players. In January, the Sky used its #1 pick in the Charlotte Sting dispersal draft to acquire Center Chasity Melvin from the Mystics, and in February the team signed free agent and Chicago native Dominique Canty. By the time the WNBA draft rolled around in April, the Sky had signed five new faces, putting the team in a good position with room left to grow. The team’s last-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2006 saw it participate in the Draft lottery where it earned the #3 pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. With that pick the Sky was able to bring Armintie Price, an athletic and quick guard from Mississippi University, into the fold. Carla Thomas (Vanderbilt), Stephanie Raymond (Northern Illinois University) and Jenna Rubino (DePaul) also came to the Sky via the 2007 draft.

When the 2007 season tipped off on May 20th, the new-look Sky was ready for a fresh start. The team found success early on in the season with a series of big wins, including its first ever two-game win streak on June 1st and 3rd. By June 17th, the Sky had already put together a pair of two-game win streaks and surpassed its 2006 win total. The team’s margin of victory in each game was at least 5 points, and the Sky was looking good with two months left to play in the season. As the team hit its stride, several key players, both old and new, were stepping up in big ways. Second year player Candice Dupree and veteran Jia Perkins continued to thrive in their second year with the Sky, offering up double-digit scoring in almost all of the Sky’s early season wins. At the same time, its new players were also stepping up in memorable ways, with Armintie Price contributing on every part of the court during her rookie season and Dominique Canty bringing consistency to the team’s early-season success.

By the time the All-Star break rolled around on July 15th, the Sky had a record of 8-12 and Candice Dupree had earned her second career All-Star nod. The team was already having its best season yet with 14 games remaining, and with the stars aligning the future looked bright for the 2007 Sky.

 


Getting It Started: April 2006-May 2006

By April 24, 2006, the Sky’s inaugural season was right around the corner. The franchise had transformed from a dream into a reality, and with three weeks remaining until tip-off it was time for the city to meet the team. As the Sky’s players, coaches and staff gathered at Moody Bible Institute for the franchise’s first-ever Media Day, Chicagoans were given their first glimpse at the town’s newest team and the media was given its first chance to spread the word. Everything was falling into place for the Sky, and the excitement was building as the regular season drew near.

On May 20, 2006, the newly formed Chicago Sky took the floor for the first time. The team opened its inaugural season on the road, taking on the Charlotte Sting at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. As the team’s starting five of Nikki McCray, Brooke Wyckoff, Ashley Robinson, Stacey Dales and Elaine Powell stepped onto the court in their blue and gold jerseys, the Chicago Sky proved that it was ready to take on the WNBA. The Sky kept the score close during the first half before claiming the lead for good in the third quarter, going up by 16 points with just three minutes left in the game. After holding off a last-minute rally by Charlotte, the Sky earned an 83-82 win, securing the franchise’s first victory. Candice Dupree scored 19 points in her WNBA debut, while Stacey Lovelace and Chelsea Newton each delivered 12.

After making a big impression on the road, the Sky returned to Chicago to play its first home game. As the Sky opened the doors at the UIC Pavilion on May 23rd, the WNBA officially made its debut in the Windy City. The team was set to face the reigning WNBA Champion Sacramento Monarchs in front of a packed house of 5,112 fans. After 15 months in the making, the Sky was ready to play its first game on its home court. Pre-game ceremonies formally introduced the team as the Sky prepared for tip-off. Candice Dupree scored 10 points and Stacey Lovelace added 11 in the game, but their efforts were not enough as the Sky fell to the Monarchs by a score of 63-76. While the new team didn’t come away with a win, its first game at home showed great promise for both the franchise and its budding fan base.

With their first season underway, the Sky had already made history in Chicago, but there was still much more to come.

 


Building the Team: May 2005-April 2006

In May 2005, the first professional women’s basketball team to come to Chicago was just getting started. It had been three months since David Stern had announced the formation of the new franchise, and owner Michael Alter and team president & CEO Margaret Stender were still searching for players, a coach, a staff, and an overall identity.

Their first step was to hire a coach. The Sky selected Dave Cowens, a former NBA player and coach, to serve as the team’s first head coach and general manager. Cowens, an NBA Hall of Fame center with the Boston Celtics, had 8 years of NBA coaching experience under his belt from the Spurs, Hornets and Warriors. He had also served as a college athletic director and a sports museum director. Alter and Stender were confident that his breadth of experience would lead their new franchise to success.

With a head coach in place, Alter and Stender officially announced the team’s name and logo at the Adler Planetarium on September 20th, 2005. Many of the WNBA’s brightest stars were in attendance to celebrate what had just become the Chicago Sky, and fans were introduced to the team’s signature blue and gold skyline logo.

By November 16th 2005, the Sky was ready to move forward. The franchise had a coach, a staff and an identity, but it didn’t have any players. The team’s quest to build its first roster was helped by an expansion draft, which allowed the Sky to select 13 players from other WNBA teams. The Sky’s first pick in the draft was Brooke Wyckoff, a forward from the Connecticut Sun. All in all, seven of the players the Sky selected in the expansion draft would eventually go on to make the opening day roster: Wyckoff, Jia Perkins, Stacey Lovelace, Bernadette Ngoyisa, Stacey Dales, Deanna Jackson and Chelsea Newton.

As the Sky looked toward its first season, there was one more order of business that needed to be taken care of – the 2006 WNBA Draft. As an expansion franchise, the Sky had been awarded the sixth overall pick. It used that pick to select Candice Dupree, a forward from Temple University, on April 5, 2006.

On May 3rd, the Sky introduced its official mascot, Sky Guy, at the Lincoln Park Zoo. As the youngest of six children, Sky Guy spent his childhood playing basketball with his five sisters in Chicago, and his love of women’s basketball inspired him to search the world for ways to get involved in the game. When he heard about the Sky coming to Chicago, he became the mascot to share his passion with his town.

With a coaching staff, an identity, a full roster, a new rookie and a mascot, the Sky was beginning to look like a team ready to take the court in its first season in the WNBA.