Sky look for golden sendoff before Olympic break

The Chicago Sky’s first encounter with the Connecticut Sun in the 2012 season will be the last game before the WNBA adjourns for the 2012 Olympics in London. Following the month-long hiatus, the two teams will become familiar foes, playing a back-to-back, home-and-home series in August and once more in September at Connecticut. In 2011, the Sun took three out of five from Chicago, but the Sky’s two victories included a three-point squeaker and a 107-101, double-overtime classic behind 25 points from Epiphanny Prince.

Prince won’t be with the team on Friday, however, as she continues to recover from a broken right foot sustained on June 16. The league’s leading scorer for the better part of a month, Prince is expected to return after the Olympic break. The rest of the Sky’s cast hopes to hold fort until Prince returns so they can make a strong push for the playoffs. The Sky currently sit in third place at 8-8, five games behind Eastern Conference-leader Connecticut (14-4) and two games behind Indiana (10-6).

Before Olympians Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash board the flight to London, they’ll need to focus their attention on soon-to-be-Olympian-teammates Tina Charles and Asjha Jones, along with the rest of the high-scoring Sun. Connecticut’s 83.1 points per game is second only to league-leader Minnesota. Charles and Jones are two of four Sun scorers currently averaging double figures. Charles leads the way with 18.3 points per game and is the only other player in the WNBA who can compete with Fowles on the boards, pulling down 11.2 rebounds to Fowles’ 12.5. Jones (13.1 points per game), Kara Lawson (14.9) and Renee Montgomery (11.1) are each capable of creating their own shot and letting loose for 20 points on any given night.

The Sky will need to execute well on both ends of the court against Connecticut, a team known for forcing turnovers and drawing fouls. In the paint, Fowles will have her hands tied with Charles, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month in June, but Chicago’s shooters might enjoy a bit more daylight from the perimeter than usual, as Connecticut allows opponents to hit 37 percent from 3-point land. Chicago will rely on wings Sonja Petrovic and Shay Murphy to open up the lanes for Fowles and Cash to operate, while point guard Courtney Vandersloot looks to cool off Lawson’s marksmanship of 53 percent shooting.

Friday’s game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena. Sky fans can join us back at Allstate Arena after the Olympics, when we host the Atlanta Dream on August 17.