Coaches are expected to teach their players a lot of things.
But etiquette? Who knew that was on the list?
Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman put it on hers Saturday night at the Allstate Arena. Kind of.
She actually spent part of halftime talking to her players about thank-you notes, and the need to send them. To the Atlanta Dream, the team in the locker room next door.
Chatman's team was down to the Dream by 8 points at the break, but it probably should have been more given the Sky's trouble with turnovers and the Dream's distinct advantages in fastbreak points and points in the paint.
"We were fortunate to be down only 8 points," Chatman said. "I told everyone that we should send them a thank-you card because we should be down by 18."
But by the end of the game, it was the Atlanta Dream that could have sent its own thank-you card: "Thanks for Nothing."
The Dream quickly had its hopes of sneaking away with a coveted road win dashed when the Sky put together a 10-2 run to start the third quarter. That helped pave the way for an 81-69 victory, the Sky's most dramatic and determined of the season.
The Sky, which got double figures from four players and survived 21 turnovers, has won two games in a row, improving to 6-6.
The question now is: Can that momentum carry over into Sunday's matinee in New York against the 6-5 Liberty, which is led by Chicago native Cappie Pondexter?
A win over the Liberty would put the Sky in third place in the Eastern Conference.
"We knew we needed this one, especially going into that back-to-back against New York, to get some momentum," said Sky guard Epiphanny Prince, who led the Sky with a game-high 24 points. She hit 11 of 12 free throws, including 8 of 8 in the fourth quarter, to seal the win.
"Coming out of halftime, we wanted to show that we're an aggressive team and that we're never going to give up no matter what the score is."
Once the Sky tied the game at 41-41 in the third quarter with that 10-2 run, there still was more scratching and clawing to do.
The Sky went down by as many as 7 points in the later stages of the third quarter before cutting the deficit back down to just a point at the end of the period. A jumper by Erin Thorn 20 seconds into the fourth quarter put the Sky up for good at 54-53.
Central to the Sky's early third-quarter run and its muscle in the fourth quarter was rookie point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who was dogged by 5 first-half turnovers.
She committed just 2 in the second half and also got most of her 16 points and game-high 9 assists after the break as well.
"I'm fortunate to play for a coach who has confidence in me, even through my downs. She's always in my ear telling me, 'We need you, you're fine.'" Vandersloot said. "This is a good sign for our whole team. To win a game like this shows the character of the players on this team."
The Sky also got big contributions from its big girls. Michelle Snow had 13 points and 6 blocks, while Sylvia Fowles chipped in with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Atlanta was led by forward Angel McCoughtry, who scored 17 points.
•Patricia Babcock McGraw, who covers the WNBA for the Daily Herald, also provides color commentary for Chicago Sky broadcasts.