Preseason Debut in Orlando

The Sky will tip off tournament play on Friday, May 9th at 6:00 p.m. ET against the Indiana Fever, at HP Field House located inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.

After finishing atop the Eastern Conference with a 24-10 record the Sky earned the top seed in the East and faced Indiana (16-18) in the first round of the playoffs. The Fever who were led by veteran forward Tamika Catchings, eliminated the Sky in the best of three series (2-0). The Sky look to continue to build on the momentum from their record-breaking season in 2013 in this grudge match with the Fever.

Sky forward Elena Delle Donne will look to avenge her performance from last year’s series against Indiana where she was held below her season averages in three games (missing one due to a concussion). The Fever used a full team effort to hold the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year to just 13.0 points per game in their 2013 series, considerably lower than her season average of 18.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. After dedicating her off-season to getting stronger and expanding her game the Fever will face a bigger challenge in defending Delle Donne while also managing to stop new offensive threats in the Sky lineup.

Both teams will be without key players, as the Sky’s Sylvia Fowles will be out of the lineup after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum and impingement joint and the Fever will be without Jeanette Pohlen. Fowles was named 2013 Defensive player of the year, while averaging 16.3 points and a team leading 11.5 rebounds per game last season for the Sky.

Jeanette Pohlen will miss the 2014 season with a torn achilles tendon. Pohlen, who is in her third year, has yet to complete a full healthy season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2012 WNBA finals. Pohlen appeared in 13 games last season, averaging just under 14 minutes and 3.2 points per game.

Indiana (0-2) will come into the tournament having played two pre-season games. The Fever dropped back-to-back games against the Washington Mystics on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Indiana was defeated 80-63 on their home court on Tuesday. The following day the Fever came up short again in Washington by a score of 81-80.

The Fever are led by Hall of Fame head coach inductee Lin Dunn, who is in her final year of coaching. Dunn holds a 664-453 (.594) overall record in 37 years of coaching. Dunn is set to be honored into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 14th.

For Chicago, Friday will be the first opportunity for Head Coach & GM Pokey Chatman to run her team through their paces. Coach Chatman will keep a close eye on first round, 10th overall draft pick, Markeisha Gatling, and several other new faces in action. Gatling, the 6’5 center from North Carolina State, enters her rookie season after being named All-ACC first team, averaging 17.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior at NC State. The athletic second round draft pick Gennifer Brandon, and former Fever duo Jessica Breland and Sasha Goodlett will all make their Sky debuts in Orlando.

The four-game tournament features the WNBA’s top teams including defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx and the Phoenix Mercury who earned WNBA championships in both 2007 and 2009. The winners of the opening round of games will meet on Sunday, May 11, at 1:00 p.m. ET, and will be preceded by a consolation game with the other two teams at 10:30 a.m ET.

Along with the games, the Sky players and coaches will participate in basketball clinic and autograph sessions with AAU basketball teams. The activities will coincide with the AAU Spring Fling II girls’ event that is being held at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex over the weekend. The AAU event will host over 1,500 basketball players who will have the unique opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with professional basketball players at the first-ever WNBA preseason tournament.

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