For a team that has lost seven straight games and 11 of its last 12, the Chicago Sky is certainly winning in one area: optimism.
Talk to just about anyone in organization from the president on down to the trainer, even after Tuesday's gut-wrenching 77-67 loss to the New York Liberty at Allstate Arena, and there is still hope. A lot of it.
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President Adam Fox talks about how the Sky, which dropped to 8-12, still controls its own destiny in its quest to nab the first playoff berth in franchise history. Despite the current slump, the Sky would still make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Meanwhile, head coach Pokey Chatman talks about correctable errors and about finding consistency so that all the good stretches of basketball (and she is always sure to point those out) don't get spoiled by the bad ones here and there.
Center Sylvia Fowles, pounded and hounded every time she touches the ball or even tries to get near it, smiles her warm, toothy smile when she talks to the media about how she dreams about getting the single win that would end this madness. And reserve guard Shay Murphy talks about gratitude and making the most of every minute.
"It can be deflating sometimes because (winning) is right there for us and some of the mistakes we make are like a broken record," said Murphy, referring to the 18 turnovers the Sky committed against New York and the league-leading 19.7 it averages overall. "But every possession, every minute is a new play.
"I just try to stay positive and come off the bench with energy. I know that basketball won't last forever so I'm just so grateful every time I step on the court. I just want to play and I really enjoy it. I think that's what helps me get through the tough times like this."
Murphy scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, to finish just behind Fowles in scoring. Fowles tallied a team-high 18 points. Murphy did her best down the stretch to keep the Sky within striking distance, draining 3 of her 3-pointers in the waning moments. But the Liberty had already done too much damage with its turnover-causing defense and an offense that shot around 50 percent for most of the game.
Chicago native Cappie Pondexter finished with a game-high 25 points for the Liberty while teammate Plenette Pierson had her way in the paint en route to 21 points.
"The good part is that we've still got more games. That's what keeps you up," Fowles said. "It's going to feel like the whole world is lifted off our shoulders when this (losing streak) ends. We think about that all the time.
"We also know it's a process and we've got some things to work on."
One thing the Sky will need to give immediate attention to before tonight's game against third-place Atlanta is its health.
Both Fowles and star guard Epiphanny Prince, who finished with 10 points on Tuesday, got banged up against New York. Fowles hyperextended her knee and Prince rolled her right ankle. Prince just returned after being off nine weeks with a broken right foot.
But both Fowles and Prince are optimistic (there's that word again) that they will play in Atlanta.
"This is a tough stretch for us, but we've got to suck it up," Prince said. "I'm OK. I'll be able to play."