For what they're worth, Pokey Chatman may deserve some style points for her crafting of the 2012 Chicago Sky.
Chatman, the team's head coach and general manager, slowly but surely has been designing a team this offseason that could be good, and interesting to follow as well.
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Building around a dynamic young core that includes Sylvia Fowles, Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot, Chatman recently re-signed relentless hustlers Tamera Young and Shay Murphy. She also made some interesting acquisitions with veteran forwards Swin Cash and Le'Coe Willingham. In January, they were dealt to Chicago from Seattle, which in return got the Sky's No. 2 overall pick for April's WNBA Draft.
Cash will make the Sky a better team. Like many of the other new players, she comes with interesting side stories that will add to her intrigue.
An NCAA champion from the University of Connecticut who has won multiple titles in the WNBA, Cash figures to be outspoken, and a leader in the locker room. She also could be on the U.S. team this summer that will compete for a gold medal at the 2012 Games in London during the WNBA's monthlong Olympic hiatus starting in mid-July.
A dedicated philanthropist, she hopes to infiltrate the Chicago area with her long-running Cash for Kids programs.
Speaking of philanthropists, the Sky has another of the WNBA's best on its roster. Chatman added 6-foot-5 veteran center Ruth Riley, another WNBA champion who has dedicated her life off the court to helping others.
Riley has been an active spokeswoman since 2006 for NothingButNets, a global grass-roots campaign to help eradicate malaria in Africa by distributing lifesaving bed nets to families. She has made multiple trips to places such as Mali, Nigeria and Angola to help with the distribution.
Riley also is involved with TRIAD Trust, an organization that works to reduce the AIDS epidemic in Africa by targeting children and young adults who are most vulnerable. TRIAD Trust has created programs using sports, music, drama, photography, and journalism as an avenue to develop trust and relationships within affected communities. The sports programs teach fundamentals as well as team building, conflict resolution, sportsmanship, self-esteem, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS and healthy lifestyles. Riley has gone to South Africa to help implement those programs.
And Riley is almost a hometown girl. She grew up in Indiana and led Notre Dame to the NCAA national title in 2001.
Another "hometown" girl that Chatman added to the roster is Felicia Chester, a former DePaul standout who signed a training camp contract. Chester, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in leading DePaul to the Sweet 16 last spring.
She hopes to become a pro athlete in Chicago, just like her fiancÚ. Chester, who became the highest WNBA pick in DePaul history last April when she was chosen No. 14 by Minnesota, is engaged to Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.
At the moment, two other local products also have spots on the Sky roster: longtime veteran guard Dominique Canty and forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton.
Canty starred at Whitney Young while Wisdom-Hylton excelled at Neuqua Valley High School and was a rival was a rival to Naperville Central and Candace Parker.
Canty's role as the wise, mentoring point guard for the Sky could be in jeopardy with another of Chatman's recent additions: Ticha Penicheiro. Penicheiro happens to be one of the most decorated point guards in WNBA history. The 14-year veteran is the league's record holder for career assists with 2,560 and also ranks second in career steals with 756.
Penicheiro, a four-time all-star and WNBA champion, was named one of the top 15 players in league history in 2011.
Let's hope this interesting cast of characters provides an interesting end to the upcoming season: the Sky's first playoff berth in its seven-year history.
NCAA in Chicago:
Don't forget that DePaul, which is practically a lock for the NCAA tournament, is hosting first- and second-round games at Allstate Arena March 17 and March 19.
All-session ticket packages start at $17. For more information, call (773) 325-7526 or visit www.NCAA.com/tickets.
Patricia Babcock McGraw, the Daily Herald's WNBA expert, also provides color commentary for broadcasts of Chicago Sky and DePaul women's games.