Brianís Courtside Blog - July 10, vs. San Antonio

The Sky welcomed the first place San Antonio Silver Stars to the Pavilion tonight. Our last home game (which seems so long ago) was against Detroit, also in first place. What a treat for the fans to see two first place teams in a row! Now only if we can get a W tonight, that would be two straight home wins over the two best teams in the WNBA. Sorry to those of you who are blog regulars -- there will not be nearly as much info on what the away head coach was up to tonight, as the Silver Starsí Head Coach Dan Hughes is not nearly as animated as Bill Laimbeer.

The game tipped off at 6pm, early for a Sky home game. As I expected, the crowd continued to fill in for the majority of the first half. I donít know how the Cubs do it, playing all those day games...

Anyway, as the game started, it had the same feel as the rainy weather outside. Both teams seemed to start slowly and were not playing with any ďpassion.Ē Things changed quickly, however, as the elbows began to bang and the intensity of the game -- and the size of the crowd -- grew.

In the second quarter, Jia Perkins came over a screen to receive a pass. Her defender shoved her in the back fairly hard. Perkins let out a loud scream, followed by an unhappy look at the ref. Needless to say, the no call did not make Perkins happy.

All throughthe night, mascots from all over Chicagoland wrecked havoc on the arenaÖand each other, as they all came to wish our very own Sky Guy a happy birthday.

It didnít take long to realize that this was going to be a difficult game for the Sky as the Silver Stars have fantastic veteran leadership at the point in Becky Hammon, young exuberance in Sophia Young, and size and strength down low in Ann Wauters. Across the board, without Sylvia Fowles, who is still injured, the Sky has a hard time matching up.

Early on and throughout the entire game, Sky Head Coach Steven Key was rather frustrated with the referees, who were keeping their whistles in their pockets. There was a play late in the 4th quarter when Candice Dupree was fouled on a lay-up she was able to convert. The crowd cheered as her teammates gathered around her with high-fives. I glanced down at Key and all he could do was stand there with his arms crossed and smile at the refs. It must be hard to be a first year coach in the league.

Late in the 4th quarter, Dupree went up and rejected Silver Stars center Ann Wauters. Dupree timed her jumped perfectly and was able to get both of her hands on top of the ball and spike it back towards the floor. The two men sitting directly behind me both let out a loud OHHHHHH.

I think the most encouraging thing about the Sky is that they never give up. Yes, our record is not where we want it to be right now, and when you are losing by double-digits in the 4th quarter, some players and teams may close the book and wait for the next game. The Sky never does this. Until the final buzzer, the Sky was up in the face of all of the Silver Stars on the defensive end of the ball and Coach Key continued to bark out directions at his players, asking them for more. This is the sort of stuff I look for most in teams. Yes, some teams may be very, very good, but donít have that hunger it takes to win a championship. Others may struggle but have the fire in their belly that they will need one day when things turn around. This team is waiting to break out, and when they do, the Sky is going to be a very difficult team to deal with.

A perfect example of this: with less than 20 seconds to go, the Sky was down by 13 points. Perkins knocked down a three from the corner and immediately ran under the basket, forced a turnover and laid the ball in for another easy two points. The Sky ended up losing by 8 points, 75-67.

As far as the matchups I spoke about earlier, Ann Wauters stood out the most, posting her sixth double-double of the season, scoring 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds, tying her with Dupree for third in the league for most double-doubles with 6.

The Sky will head to Indiana to take on the Fever this Saturday, July 12 at 6pm. You can listen to all Sky home games both on the road and at home on WVON 1690AM, or streaming at wvon.com.