News & Quotes: Sky Fall to Dream, 81-63

Sky Notes

• Rookie forward Diamond DeShields struggled in her third professional game, finishing with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.
• The Sky shot 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, their lowest since going for 26.7 percent in the first half of the final preseason game against the Minnesota Lynx on May 12.
• Leading scorer Allie Quigley was limited to 12 points after averaging 20.5 points a game in the first two contests.
• Center Alainah Coates finished with a team-high eight rebounds and surpassed her previous season-high of two.

Dream Notes
• Guard Tiffany Hayes poured in a team-high 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting. She has led the Dream in scoring in both games this season.
• The Dream outrebounded the Sky 40-28 and tallied 48 points in the paint,compared to 36 by the Sky.
• The Dream held the Sky to 36.8 percent from the field and a season-low of 10 points in the third quarter.

Sky Post Game Quotes

Sky Head Coach Amber Stocks

Overall thoughts…

We were not able to execute some things offensively as well as we would’ve liked. Some shots weren’t falling. I don’t know the exact numbers right now, but I know our field goal percentage definitely could have increased and would have resulted in a different flow to the game as well as the turnovers. I think we had 13 turnovers, so not terribly bad. However, they came back crucial points in the game that a shot on goal and an opportunity for Steph or Alayna to grab the rebound would’ve been to our benefit.

On Atlanta getting to the basket…

Well, it’s not so much that was the problem—that’s what they do. That’s the style of play they have. They drive the ball to the basket, and that is there gameplan, and it is well executed. We have a defensive system in place to help absorb a lot of the penetration and minimize rotations. I thought we did a good job of minimizing the free throw attempts of Atlanta. Atlanta had 13 free throw attempts, which might end up being a season-low for them. So, I thought we did a good job of keeping them off the free throw line. However, they were relentless with their determination to get to the rim.

On Atlanta’s pick & roll effect on Dolson…

The sideline pick and rolls are always a difficult challenge to guard which is why everybody runs them. We had our hands full containing their perimeter players on their aggressive drives to the basket, which does put a lot of pressure on your second & third line in your defense. Then as a secondary defender in a pick and roll helping onto the ball, you’re very vulnerable because you’re now focused on two primary tasks, which are the ball handler attacking as well as your specific assignment role. It’s a challenge, and Steph’s worked hard at it. They were just able to execute.

On Atlanta’s defense…

Atlanta did a good job of pressuring the ball and denying our passes. Their pressure had our offense extended past typical scoring and execution range. That definitely contributed to us being out of our flow a little bit, which contributed to our low field goal percentage.

On rookies responding to adversity…

That’s totally something that [Montgomery] and [Quigley], our leaders, have complete empowerment to lead by example in that area. I have the utmost confidence in Alex and Allie’s leadership as veterans and experienced players. The’re poised, they’re mature and our young players are smart enough to follow their lead. We just talked about the quote ‘starve your distractions and feed your focus’. Alex and Quigley are focused, and they will not allow distractions to creep in. I our young players follow their example, we’ll all remain focused.

On the play of Tiffany Hayes…

Tiffany Hayes is a dynamic player. She’s in the USA Basketball fold for a reason. Tonight she showed what she will show glimpses of throughout the season, which is her ability to be both a perimeter threat as well as an interior scoring threat. One thing she’s known for is her free throw attempts and we did a good job of limiting that; she only shot four free throws. She was poised enough to the adjust her game and execute from the 3-point line.

#1 Guard Diamond DeShields

On going up against Angel McCoughtry…

It was nice. You always want to compete against the best players. Obviously, Angel’s one of the best in the world right now. It’s a challenge I was willing and ready to accept. Coach trusted me with that responsibility today. I appreciate her for that. It’s just something that I learned from moving forward. I look forward to more matchups. It was fun.

On transition from college 3-point line to WNBA’s…

There’s obvious things like pace and spacing and just playing with a higher level of competition, but I definitely think, coming out of college, the adjustment for me has been pretty easy. I have great teammates around me who have really helped me and embraced me and what I’m capable of doing and kind of just allowing me to be myself out there, and I appreciate them for giving me that confidence.

On her defense today…

It could have been better. Obviously, we didn’t even come close to accomplishing what we wanted to defensively, so I can’t even say it was better than the past two games because we lost. Watch the film, get together and work on preparing for the next game.

On transitioning from overseas…

It’s the beginning of a new season with a new team and we have a lot of work to do. Coming from overseas, it was a long season but physically I feel great. I’m excited to be here and to be in this league. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play with Chicago under coach Stocks and I’m just ready to pursue our team goals and do whatever is necessary to attain those goals.

#6 Forward Alex Montgomery

On the bench play and rebounding from it…

We can’t get too low on a loss. Always stay together and keep our heads up, it’s a long season ahead of us. The game is going to come quick. I know we hate to lose, but we’ve got to keep pushing forward and prepare for the next game. Just continue to stay aggressive and keep pushing forward. We’ve got a lot of things to work on. It is what it is. You win some and lose some, but hopefully we’re going to win a lot more than we lose.

On if she sees herself having a leadership role…

I do, [especially] on the defensive end. Regardless of what’s going on the offensive end, we always have to stay together defensively. We just got to take the punches and keep going. A lot of players do look up to me, so I just have to be that strong role model and stay positive at all times.

On adjusting to new teammates…

The process from day one is chemistry, learning one another and everyone’s ability, whether its defensive strengths or offensive strengths. It’s about just learning how to play each other. It’s the beginning of the season; we’ll be alright.

Dream Post Game Quotes

Coach Nicki Collen

On the game…

“After giving 101 points up to Dallas in our opener, it was really important for us to really hit first, and emphasize defense in this game. I think we really set the tone defensively. We were on the floor for loose balls, we were tipping balls around, just mucking it up in the paint, which I think you have to do against Chicago Sky. So, really proud of their defensive effort. I think we got balanced scoring. Sykes gave us great minutes off the bench, Hayes got us going early, Angel just really facilitated for us, so I think it was a really good team effort. Breland getting double rebounds and her return to Chicago, in an emotional game for her, was key. It was a fun game to coach when we’re sharing the ball, we’re making the extra pass, players are pointing at one another. It’s just fun basketball to watch; it’s fun basketball to play; it’s fun basketball to coach.”

On defensive strategy changes from game 1 to game 2…

“Well, I think in general, it was really congesting the point of attack whether that was a ball screen, whether there was a pin down. We obviously focused on Quigley because she’s Chicago’s leading scorer. Certainly a different scouting report…so to turn that around, and kind of the concept of two lineups and the smaller, athletic line-up versus the bigger, stronger Chicago lineup. So, we really focused defensive game plans based on their lineups.”

On the benefits of facing the Sky in the preseason…

“It gave us a taste of their roster. Certainly, they didn’t have DeShields then. They’ve gotten Faulkner back, so that gives them a true point guard that can run the show. But, I know that our younger players, our new players, coming back here because we played well here the first time, I think it probably gave them a sense of ‘hey we know we can beat this team, so let’s set the tone early.’ And I think we did that.”

On dominance in the paint…

“Really, it was just effort. We’re not bigger, we’re not stronger. I mean, we’re long and athletic, and we were quicker to the ball. And, having Angel, 6-1 as a 3-player, being able to get in there and clean up sometimes when we don’t necessarily get two hands on it, but we’re tipping it around. So, I think that was a lot of it, and then offensively we just moved the ball. So you end up with touches in the paint by just moving the ball. You don’t have to necessarily throw the ball to the low block to get paint touches. You can touch the paint off the drive, off a roll, lots of different ways, so I think we really touched the paint, and played inside out.”

On looking forward to the rest of the season…

“Oh, I think we just want to build confidence. We got Angel back late from Russia, so really Sunday was her first game playing with these guys, so really establishing a rotation. This is kind of who we are, we’re going to rotate eight or nine, and then from there play off that, sometimes our rotation changes based on opponent, or things like that, but I think this team needs to learn how to play together, and I saw really good glimpses of how well they can play together when they share the basketball.”

On Jessica Breland…

“She means a whole lot. I worked really, really hard to sign her. I think she’s a glue player. She doesn’t need to put a ton of points, but stretch, hit the floor, face up,she can beat you off the bounce a little bit, and you underestimate just how long she is. She’s hard to score on in the paint even though she’s not very big physically, she’s long and she’s disrupted a lot of shots at the rim today. So, a great defensive power forward in this league, and just a glue player that’s a great teammate, likes playing with her teammates. So, just a winner to me.”

On the atmosphere…

“I think kids games are great. This is one of six that we’ve got. We’re on the all kids game roll this year. There’s definite energy in the gym, and they don’t really know the game that well, so they just cheer to be cheering. They cheer when there’s music, so the great part about it is, for us, it causes us to really have to communicate at a higher level because there is that buzz in the background all the time. When we call a play, all five people have to echo that play so that all five people can run it. So, a great atmosphere today, for sure because of all the kids.”

On the Angel and Deshields Matchup…

“I think you’ve got someone who’s a two-time Olympian and you underestimate Angel’s strength. When she gets herself to the rim, she finishes, she’s a finisher at the rim. And I think Deshields is going to be that way in a few years, but it’s going to take her sometime when she gets acrobatic in the lane of powering up and through people. I think in some ways their games are very similar. We could argue that Deshields is coming into the league a better 3-point shot than Angel, but Angel is as good a pure athlete as this league has ever seen and this [is a] really good matchup in general. I don’t want to say that Angel is on the downside of her career because I think she has a lot of basketball in her but you’re looking at the future in Deshields, for sure.”

Brittney Sykes #7

On bringing energy and points off the bench…

“Coming off of a loss at Dallas, it was a hard one. Practice the next day, we got after it… we got into each other. Our defense is really what attributed to our success today, and then just coming out and making it known that this is what our identity is going to be. Defense, coming off the bench people ready to go, ready to play. Myself, Lay [Layshia Clarendon], everybody that came off the bench today gave energy and kept that energy going, and we’re going to need that down the stretch. When we throw up those 5 and 5 and 5, and sub here, two here, sub there…everybody just has to be ready, and I think we all did a collective effort of that.”

On keeping high energy on defense…

“I think it’s more so in practice. I think in practice we get on each other about being that defensive team and being scrappy and being a pest. On the court, when we bring it to the games, it’s natural. We’re in help position, we’re scrappy, we’re picking at the ball, we’re being pests with the ball. We’re aggravating teams because nine times out of ten, the other teams are doing that to us, so we have to start being the aggressor.”

On confidence going into the game…

“It was great. It was there. And, my teammates give me that. I give myself confidence, but I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They stay in my ear; they tell me to stay ready. While Angel [McCoughtry] is in the game, and we’ve got a timeout, she’s coming to me telling me to ‘stay ready, be ready.’ She’s talking to me and staying in my ear. With all that help, you can’t help but to get on the floor and just want to give it your all. And, that’s what we want from everybody who touches that floor. Even if you’re on the bench, we want you to give your all in whatever you do.”

Tiffany Hayes #15

On today’s win…

“I thought the game was pretty good. For us, we started out good and we kept the same intensity. Our defense was really good, and I think that’s what drove our offense today.”

On confidence going into the game…

“I just knew we had a bad loss in Dallas, and I think our team is still learning each other. We’re going to be one of those ones where it takes us time, but we’re going to get there. And, you saw a glimpse of it today, where we can be a really good team. It’s a working process for us, and I’m really proud of how we responded from the loss and came out today and got the win.

On defense in the game…

“We’ve got to talk about it, communication. Everybody’s bumping on cutters, everybody’s got their hands active, getting tips on passes, so those were big. That stuff doesn’t come with the stats, but it’s big for us. That’s what leads to somebody else getting a steal, so we talked about it. Active hands, because we didn’t have a lot of that in the last game, and now we carried it into this game to where we changed that. And, we did it, and look…we actually got a win.”

On bringing the same energy from this win into playing the Wings again in the next game…

“Same thing we brought this game. We learned from our mistakes last game. We knew that we didn’t match their intensity, we were soft, so they’re definitely going to see a different team when we come and play them.”