Brian’s Courtside Blog - April 30, vs. Seattle
To tip-off the 2008 pre-season, the new look Chicago Sky hosted what many are calling the Western Conference’s most powerful team, the Seattle Storm. I could not wait to get to the arena this afternoon and check out all of the Sky’s new players and coaching staff in action for the first time.
In the first half, both teams showed why there is a pre-season in the WNBA. Neither team appeared to mesh well early on, throwing the ball away and having communication problems. It must be tough playing together for the first time in an actual game, especially after playing overseas during the winter as many of the players on the floor did this past off-season. Neither head coach, Steven Key of the Sky or Brian Alger of the Storm, appeared to be very happy with their team’s play in the first half.
Agler was very adamant with his players during the first time-out of the game, making it clear that they needed to work the ball around and find the open shot. At one point I could hear him say, “You guys are forcing way too many shots out there, just slow down and play as a team, it’s going to come.”
Key made his presence felt early as he got on the refs, not for a bad call, but to point out that Sylvia Fowles appeared to injure her hand and they needed to stop the game. It was just a scratch and after getting it taped, Sylvia returned to the game.
Key appeared to be really focused on teaching tonight. Several times I could hear him telling players what they needed to do to improve their performance on the court. He was very calm, not once pulling a player aside to chew her out. I like the overall confidence that Key shows in his players.
My seatmate at the Scorer’s Table, Demetris, pointed out to me that Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas was “in the building, B!” It’s great to see Tyrus out showing his support for fellow LSU Tigers Fowles and Quianna Chaney. Did you know Syl and Q roomed together all throughout college down in the bayou?!
With just under a minute left in the first half, Armintie Price found Stephanie Raymond wide open on the break for a three-pointer. On their way back down the floor, the two made eye contact and exchanged a smile -- you could tell for a moment they felt they were in a rhythm and happy to be back playing with one another! Coach Key also enjoyed the action as he stood up and applauded the play.
2008 DePaul Blue Demon graduate Allie Quigley had lots of supporters in the crowd; we heard many “Lets go, Allie!!!” chants throughout the game. I know she doesn’t play for the Sky, but you’ve got to support someone from Chicago trying to make it…right?
Veteran Sky forward Brooke Wyckoff was in the arena but did not dress for the game. Brooke appeared to be in high spirits, cheering on her teammates. I can’t wait to see Brooke, AP, Candice Dupree, Sylvia and Jia Perkins out on the court together. That should be a tough five to stop come the regular season.
Chicago native Yolanda Griffith played limited minutes for the Storm tonight; however, during each timeout she was in the ear of her young teammates, encouraging and teaching them. Sheryl Swoopes rode a stationary bike behind the bench whenever she wasn’t playing.
Second round draft pick “Q” Chaney had what I would call a solid performance in only 13 minutes of play. She shot 3 of 4 from behind the three-point arc and finished the game with 11 points. It will be fun to keep our eyes on the on-court chemistry between Syl and Q. In my opinion they should trump all other rookie tandems in the league.
The highlight of the night came when the Sky opened the 4th quarter on a 14-0 run to extend our lead to 62-39. It may be early and the pre-season, but anytime I see a team lock down on defense like the Sky did in the second half, it is very encouraging. Defense wins you games and ultimately championships. If the Sky can continue to allow only 21 points in the second half all year, the wins are going to pile up!
I’ll be back from the Scorer’s Table next Thursday night, Sky v. Sparks, playing at the Sears Centre Arena for the first time. Fowles v. Parker, the rematch. Should be fun!