Chicago Sky: 2006 Preview
No longer conspicuous by its absence, Chicago joins the WNBA as the league's lone expansion team in 2006.
The Chicago Sky - its name and colors inspired by the Second City's wondrous skyline - will play home games at the cozy 6,500-seat Pavilion on the campus of the University of Illinois - Chicago. That intimate setting should eventually provide a nice home-court advantage as soon as head coach/general manager Dave Cowens can field a competitive team. Until then, get ready for the Chicken Little jokes.
Cowens' first team-building exercise was November's expansion draft, in which the Sky selected one player from each of the 13 returning WNBA teams. Though every team protected six players, Chicago ended up with several experienced veterans that should contribute.
"It's great to be back on a team and to have teammates,'' Dales told the Chicago Sun-Times on the team's recent media day. "This is even better than I expected. The organization is great. And Dave Cowens is an incredibly smart coach. We'll surprise people and be a fun team to watch."
Other veterans tabbed in the expansion draft include 5-9 guard Elaine Powell, a seven-year veteran who was a starter on Detroit's 2003 championship team; guard Chelsea Newton, a defensive stopper as a rookie for league champion Sacramento last season; 6-2 forward Deanna Jackson, a two-year starter in Indiana; and Brooke Wyckoff, a 6-1 forward, who was a key contributor for the back-to-back Eastern Conference champion Connecticut Sun.
With the sixth overall pick in April's annual WNBA Draft, the Sky selected 6-2 forward/center Candice Dupree, who figures to play a prominent role in the Sky's plans. As a senior, she led Temple to a 24-8 record and an Atlantic 10 championship, averaging 17.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. She was named the A-10 player of the year and defensive player of the year.
Second-round pick Jennifer Harris, a 5-9 guard, was the Division II player of the year at Washburn (32-1), where she averaged a team-best 24.2 points and 5.1 assists per game. Third-round selection Kerri Gardin, a 6-1 forward from Virginia Tech, averaged 12.7 points and 10 rebounds last season.
Also battling for a roster spot will be free agent Nikki McCray, 34, a three-time All-Star and former centerpiece of the WNBA's marketing campaign. She will look to resurrect her career with the Sky after three straight years of dwindling production. A leadership role on an expansion franchise could be the perfect situation for McCray… and the Sky.