It’s clear the Delle Donne family is a tight-knit group that loves basketball.
Dad Ernie has missed just a couple of the 17 games his superstar daughter has played this summer during her rookie WNBA season. Mom Joan and brother Gene are in the stands almost as much, while big sister Lizzie, who is severely disabled, seems to be there in spirit.
They all live in Delaware.
“I don’t know how they do it,” said Elena Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 forward who was gobbled up by the Chicago Sky with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s WNBA draft, and plays most of her games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. “It’s a lot of travel for them, but I’m just so grateful I’m able to see my family so much.”
Delle Donne, who leads the Sky in scoring with 18.2 points per game, will be seeing quite a bit of her family over the next several days, if not longer. But neither she nor her family members ever wanted a visit to be under these circumstances.
She will be at home in Delaware to recover from a concussion. Meanwhile, she will miss the WNBA’s All-Star Game in Connecticut (2:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC 7).
Delle Donne, who stayed close to home for college and was an all-American at the University of Delaware, recently was named the top vote-getter for the WNBA all-star game, the first rookie to ever earn such a distinction. She was humbled and elated about the opportunity, and excited to play on such a big stage in front of many of her East Coast fans.
But on Wednesday, in the Sky’s loss to the Washington Mystics in D.C., Delle Donne lost her footing as she was coming down from a jumpshot. She wound up smacking the back of her head on the floor. She left the game and it was determined later that she had suffered a concussion.
It is the second concussion in three years for Delle Donne, who suffered one at Delaware.
According to Sky head coach Pokey Chatman, doctors have recommended that Delle Donne do nothing but rest until she can pass a series of tests to be cleared to play.
“I’m extremely worried,” Chatman said of her star rookie. “With concussions and all the protocol, you have to be so careful and really watch the symptoms. It’s not just about her getting back to playing again, it’s about her health.
“You don’t want to do anything to set her back so it will be a very day-to-day situation.”
Delle Donne has been seeing her own doctors at home and is scheduled to see team doctors in Chicago on Monday. Whether she will then continue her recuperation at home or in the Chicago area has not been determined.
In a tweet Friday, Delle Donne said, “I’m okay and starting to feel better.” She thanked her nearly 50,000 Twitter followers for their messages.
“Elena has a pretty even demeanor,” Chatman said. “I’m trying to leave her alone and let her sleep, but from what I can tell, she’s doing as well as she could possibly be.
“The timing of this is unfortunate because it’s disappointing for the fans. And I’m sure it’s disappointing for Elena too, being the top vote-getter and having the opportunity to play in her backyard. But honestly, when this happened, it seemed like the biggest thing (Delle Donne) was worried about was the fact that we lost that game.
“That’s just how she is.”
Injury bug bites:
There was more bad news Friday for the Sky.
Head coach Pokey Chatman announced that backup center Carolyn Swords is done for the season due to an MCL knee injury. Swords will have surgery on Saturday.
This is a huge loss for the Sky as the 6-foot-6 Swords showed tremendous value in the two games in which star center Sylvia Fowles sat out due to injury. Against New York on July 18, Swords had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 5 steals in 31 minutes.
Without Swords, the Sky is vulnerable inside. Fowles is back, but she is still bothered by her right ankle and is not playing at 100 percent.
Backup point guard Sharnee Zoll-Norman also will miss four weeks with a broken thumb. If Delle Donne is still out when regular season games resume on Aug. 2, the Sky would be down to eight players and it is possible Chatman could ask the WNBA for an injury hardship waiver to add a replacement player.
Bandits on a roll:
Don’t forget to head to Rosemont to catch the first-place Chicago Bandits (23-6), who have won eight of their last 10 games.
The Bandits host the NY/NJ Comets at 7:35 p.m. Saturday at the Ballpark at Rosemont in the last game of their second-to-last homestand of the season. The team won’t be back in Rosemont until Aug. 14 for a season-ending series against the USSSA Pride.
I’ll have a column soon on Bandits star pitcher Monica Abbott, who is dominating National Pro Fastpitch with a crazy-good 0.37 ERA.
Follow Patricia’s reports on Twitter @BabcockMcGraw.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.