Hoops with House 18

Hey Sky fans! How was your week? Mine…. Whew… a whirlwind. We have been extremely busy. You should see all the work that Ann Crosby (Director of Operations) and Michelle Kania (Athletic Trainer) have done to make our new offices a home. They have been nothing short of amazing!

Our staff is now complete, with Coach Sides arriving over the weekend; we have hit the ground running.

We had our first impromptu staff meeting at a Starbucks in a train station. I couldn’t tell you where we were. I’m really quite “directionally challenged.” If I don’t have a GPS with me, I can’t get anywhere.

Suddenly, it was as if we had been on a staff together for years. We were rattling off ideas, scribbling notes, debating different concepts, making diagrams… and this was simply finalizing what Coach Pokey wanted from our free agent camp. I can’t wait to start getting into practice planning, game prep and advance scouting!

We were there for well over an hour, when we were just going to stop for a quick 15 minutes and a cup of coffee.

FREE AGENT OPEN TRYOUT

When I was in New York we conducted an open tryout. The event was fun, but so much different than the first ever-open tryout we hosted on Sunday here in Chicago.

The intensity, the level of talent and the variety of players that attended was amazing to me. It really caught me off guard. I know all that has grown during the WNBA’s 14 seasons, but being an open tryout of players I wasn’t sure what to expect.

There were 60 players. The response was fantastic!

After some intense breakdown shooting and individual offense drills we got right into some 5-on-5 action. The players were intense, physical and aggressive. This physical, intense play continued right into the 3-on-3 session. I really like 3-on-3… you can tell right away the players that understand floor spacing, screening and defense: how to play the game. In many ways these games were even better than the 5-on-5 games.

Our coaching staff selected 21 women who returned later in the day for a regulation, 40-minute WNBA game. As tired as the players were from the first workout, they laid it all on the line in this session.

The WNBA is the greatest women’s basketball league in the world… all the top women’s basketball player’s play here. My first year’s in the league, I wouldn’t say it was “easy” to make a team or be invited to a training camp, but I truly believe it was “easier” than it is today. The level of skill, the overall athletic ability and talent is even higher and more broad based than in was at the league’s inception.

I’ve been told that in 2010 only eight drafted players made final rosters. Eight! That is amazing!

The competition for a spot on a roster is so amazingly difficult to secure. I was so extremely proud of our 60 Sky hopefuls for being with us, for coming in prepared, for choosing to take the chance and really for being ready to showcase their talents for us. They have made our coaching staff have to discuss, evaluate and make decisions about what the next steps might be.

CLARIFICATION

I mentioned last week meeting a young player, Andraya Carter a 2012 Buford HS (GA) prospect, at the Nike Skills Academy and said she is Christie Thomas’s younger sister. Well, the two are extremely close and Andraya’s mother reached out to me to let me know the two are not actually blood relatives. But, something many fans and people don’t see. Christie has spent such a long time mentoring, guiding and getting to know Andraya, by spending time with her, helping show her the ropes and guide her. So much so that Andraya and her mom both consider her family.

That says so much about Christie as a person and something that people that don’t know her may not have ever known. That really impresses me, because Christie wasn’t doing anything for herself, it was not something anyone would ever see. In the end Christie made a life long friend and “little sister” and a lasting impression on another person’s life. There it is… when you give, you end up getting more than you gave.

SKY SERVES

Another quick reminder about “Get Served by the Sky” at Buffalo Wild Wings in Mount Prospect on Tuesday, May 31 at 6:00 p.m. to raise money for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Be There!

So now its less than a week before our first practice Sky Fans!... the coaches will be on lock down from now on in. We’ll go over practice plans, drills, offense, and defense…. Watch film, talk and re-talk. Long days, short nights… love it. I can’t wait.

We’ll see you soon. June 10th at All State or June 4th in Indiana if you are up for a pretty easy road trip.

Don’t forget, you can see your Sky vs. the China National Team at Trinity College in Deerfield on May 23rd.

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day!

For previous editions of Sky Hoops with House, click here.