Courtside Blog - Aug. 1 vs. Sun

Welcome back to the scorers’ table here at the UIC Pavilion! This is Dave, getting ready for tonight’s game between the Sky and the Connecticut Sun.

When I asked Assistant Coach Stephanie White about keys to tonight’s game she was very brief: “Rebounding and defending the paint.” She then added, “You could probably list those as keys for every game of the season.”

After tonight’s game, the Sky will begin what I think is their most important part of the season—a four-game road trip that will go a long way towards determining the Sky’s playoff fate. The four teams they’ll face are: Indiana (best record in the league), Atlanta (same record as the Sky at 9-10), Detroit (defending WNBA Champions) and New York. Winning at least two of those games would put the Sky in a great position for the rest of the year. Before we know it, Sky fans, it’ll be September and we’ll be talking about the playoffs, something I expect the Sky to storm into this season!

But before they take off on that road trip, they have a home-court to defend! Both teams are ready on the court, the Official has the ball, it’s time for the tip!

Just about four minutes into the game, and it’s already a 9-2 Sky lead. Surprised? You shouldn’t be! The Sky always seems to get off to a great start at home, and today has been no exception. The way Chicago has been getting their points has been impressive, too. Almost every basket has been an easy layup, after some very crisp passing. Let’s keep that going all night!

A couple well-executed fast breaks and Connecticut cuts into the Chicago lead and after one quarter the Sky is still in front, 20-16. Just like last game, Head Coach Steven Key is not afraid to go his bench right away as four bench players closed the quarter, and once again the Sky didn’t fall behind at all. That’s what TEAM basketball is all about!

Momentum is starting to shift a bit with seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Sun now in front 24-20. Wisely, Coach Key sends Dominique Canty, Jia Perkins, Candice Dupree and Sylvia Fowles to the scorers’ table to check back into the game and regain command.

There was some contact under the Connecticut basket and Sylvia Fowles is the only one that didn’t get back up. At first many of us at the scorers’ table thought she may have re-aggravated her knee injury. I don’t think it’s the knee, as she is walking off the court holding a towel to her forehead. Let’s hope that it’s nothing serious—we need Big Syl on the court!

Connecticut Head Coach Mike Thibault has been rather upset with the officials in the last few possessions. When a Sky drive to the basket resulted in a blocking foul against the Sun he yelled, “That’s a charge, not a flop! It’s a 6’3” player against a 6’1” player!” Then on the next possession a foul was called on Asjha Jones, much to Thibault’s dismay. Why? He let the refs know: “You’ve got the wrong number on the call!” Ashja wasn’t even there!” I didn’t see the call so I can’t say if he was wrong, but it doesn’t look like the officials are going to change anything.

What a run! The Sky has taken over as they have a 32-26 lead with 4:30 to go in the half. PA announcer Ray Clay just informed the crowd that the last steal by Canty was the 300th steal of her career! Also, statistician Mark Grossman handed me a note that said Canty is the 11th player in WNBA history to have 800 points, 800 rebounds, and 300 steals! Way to go Dominique!

The ball is knocked loose, rolling toward the sidelines … and Jia makes a great one-handed save to keep the ball in Chicago’s possession! The Sky passes it around, and Shyra Ely fires a three, it’s good! And the UIC Pavilion crowd goes crazy! Everything is going Chicago’s way right now! Coach Thibault just sent a completely new lineup into the game—he’s looks very frustrated with his team right now—I wouldn’t want to be in their locker room for the halftime speech.

The UIC Pavilion crowd comes to their feet after an AWESOME performance by the Sky in the second quarter! That may be the best 10 minutes of basketball I’ve seen in this building all season long! Every time I put my head down to type the Sky had five more points! At the half, it’s 51-31 Chicago! I’m going to take the next 15 minutes to catch my breath—that was unbelievable! Get this Sky fans, the Sky went on a 26-0 run to seize control of this one…WOW!!!

Two players that stood out in the first half were Candice and Shyra. Candice led all scorers with 20 points in the first half, while Shyra scored all 10 of her points in the second quarter, continuing the hot streak she’s been on for the last three games.

The five players that Thibault pulled from the game in the second all checked in at the same time halfway through the third. In an effort to spark her team, Jones yelled to her four teammates getting ready to check in, “We have zero offensive rebounds!” Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the Sky. The score is now 64-40, with 4:33 to go in the third quarter.

An update on Sylvia’s injury: she is back on the bench but she hasn’t been back in the game. It appears she’s holding a bag of ice to her forehead—that may explain what happened to her in the second quarter.

Can we bottle this performance and take it on the road with us? Without a doubt this is the best I’ve seen the Sky look in 2009! After three quarters of play the Sky leads 72-48! As a team the Sky is shooting 28-for-52 overall (53.8 percent), including an impressive 7-for-13 on 3-point attempts!

The only thing left to decide in this one is the final score. Halfway through the final quarter the Sky still has a big lead, 74-58, its been total domination.

Two in a row! Chicago defends their home-court again winning 84-72—a great game for the Sky before they take off for the 4-game road trip. One more update on Sylvia: I did see a smile on her face as she was leaving the floor; we’ll take that as a good sign!

Don’t forget to follow the Sky on WNBA Live Access while they’re on the road! We’ll be back here on August 15 when the Sky hosts the Minnesota Lynx. Until then, go Sky!