Brian’s Courtside Blog - July 18 vs Connecticut

Welcome back to my blog Sky fans, this is the last time you will hear from me for a while as the Sky will take a month off for the Olympic break and not return home until August 31 when the Detroit Shock comes knocking on the door.

It’s not often you are in the presence of an Olympic athlete, tonight I was fortunate enough to be in the same building as two! Sky center Sylvia Fowles and Fever forward Tamika Catchings were honored before tip-off by a member of Chicago’s 2016 committee. As the two were presented with their gifts, the LED board read “Best of Luck in Beijing. Bring home the gold!” I want to be one of many to say to both players as well as to the rest of Team USA, good luck and we will all be pulling for you.

Early on in the first quarter, Catchings showed off her amazing talent when she caught the ball behind the three point arc to the left of the basket. She put her head down and drove through traffic, finishing the play with an amazing two handed scoop off the top corner of the glass that somehow had just the right amount of spin on it and was able to find the bottom of the net.

All attention early on may have been focused on Fowles and Catchings, but Candice Dupree quickly stole the spot light from them. With just seconds left in the quarter, Quianna Chaney found Dupree open on the baseline for an easy jump shot…and her 12th point of the quarter!

Fowles entered the Sky’s lineup at the beginning of the second quarter for the first time since June 3 when she hurt her left knee against the L.A. Sparks. Fowles had an immediate impact on the game with her size, strength and athletic ability. The way she is able to run the floor and control the middle of the lane is amazing. She totally changes the way the game is played. It’s great to see her back, now its time to get down to business, win some games, and get back in the playoff race.

The Sky owned a 27-17 lead with 6:32 left in the first half. When Sky Head Coach Steven Key called a 20 second timeout with 4:15 left in the half, the game was tied and Indiana had taken back all of the momentum that Dupree and the Sky were able to gain early on in the game. When the ref’s blew the whistle to signal for the timeout, Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn turned and looked at both the Fever’s PR person and radio announcers, winking at them with a half grin on her face.

The Sky closed the half strong, taking a 37-31 lead into the break. Yet again, Fowles was the center of attention. As she walked off the court for halftime, she was presented with a $5,000 check for being named the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award Winner for the month of June. What else can she do to be recognized besides go to four straight final fours, be selected second overall in this years WNBA Draft, be named to the Olympic team, and now this! Not bad Syl, way to go.

Mid way through the third quarter, Fowles was called for a foul on a Fever fast break. The play was similar to the when she injured herself back in June, she went up to block a shot from behind and soared above all competition. This time however she did not hit the base of the hoop and was okay. Let me tell you though, when she went up for the block, my stomach felt as if I was on an airplane and we had just hit an air pocket.

It’s amazing to watch how the Fever alters their defense when Big Syl comes on the floor. Normally the Fever play very tight man-to-man defense, pressuring the ball and filling the passing lanes at all times. When Syl comes in, her defender is constantly fronting her and they drop another player behind her for backside help, normally leaving one of the wings open. I can’t wait for her to get 100% healthy, she makes our team even more fun to watch.

With just over a minute left in the 3rd quarter, the Fever had cut the lead back to only two points. As Coach Dunn’s team headed back down court to play defense, she rose from the bench and applauded her team’s effort, yelling at them to, “Keep working! Keep working now!”

With 5 minutes to go in the game, Perkins swatted away a shot that was recovered by her defender. Perkins then was able to get her hands around the ball and force a 24 second violation to give the ball back to the Sky. As this happened, Katie Douglas of the Fever was standing at the score’s table and threw down her towel in anger and yelled, “Come on…let’s go!”

I love the hard nose play from Perkins. She never takes a play off and is constantly around the ball, giving it 110% on every play.

It was interesting to see the Fever elected to foul the Sky with 34 seconds to go in the game only down two points. They really must not respect the Sky’s free throw shooting ability. Well…Chas Melvin stepped to the line and made the Fever pay as she knocked down both of her free throws to extend the lead back to four.

Perkins went to the line 10 seconds later and converted both of her charity shots…so much for that poor Sky free throw shooting huh?

Dupree made another pair of free throws for the Sky to extend the lead to six and ice the ball game. The Sky won the game 68-60 with 90.5% free throws good.

What a great win for the Sky, not only is it nice to defeat your rivals, but to walk away from home for the last time before the Olympic break and leave me and all of the fans with a good feeling inside is fantastic for the team.

Sky fans enjoy the Olympic break and be sure to frequently check chicagosky.net for Fowles and Team USA updates, player blogs and chats and more.