Sky's defense dominates in season-opening win over Lynx

With plenty of changes to the roster, the plan for the Sky this season was to focus on aggressive defense.

The team delivered in Friday's 77-66 victory at Minnesota in the regular-season opener. The Sky finished with 14 steals and 8 blocks, while the Lynx shot just 33.3% from the field.

Kahleah Copper led the way with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while Alanna Smith produced 15 points and 3 blocks off the bench. Among the defensive leaders were Rebekah Gardner with 4 steals, while center Elizabeth Williams finished with 14 points and 3 steals.

"I thought we were very disruptive and thought we were very disciplined and got a lot of deflections," coach James Wade said after the game. "Make them uncomfortable, that's what we work on. It's trickle down. You have one person putting pressure and it just goes."

The 6-foot-4 Smith was one of several free-agent additions for the Sky during the offseason. The Australia native played in college at Stanford and was a first-round draft pick by Phoenix in 2019. She joins the Sky after three years with the Mercury and one in Indiana.

Smith's role will likely grow with the loss of another newcomer, forward Isabelle Harrison, who had surgery to repair meniscus in her left knee on Friday.

The Sky got off to a shaky start. The first six possessions included 3 turnovers, 2 shots blocked and one miss. After falling behind 16-9, things quickly settled in. The Sky took control with a 22-3 run in the second quarter and continued to hold a comfortable lead.

"I like the way we came together," Copper said. "It was first-game feels, it was trying to figure it out together. But nobody had their head down, nobody really cracked. That says a lot about the group and what we're trying to build as an identity."

New addition Sika Kone, a 6-3 forward from Mali, was in uniform Friday, but did not play. The Sky claimed her off waivers the previous day.

This is a new era for the Sky. Copper was the leading scorer the past two seasons, but Candace Parker (Las Vegas) and Courtney Vandersloot (New York) left in free-agency, while Allie Quigley retired. Copper and guard Dana Evans were the only two players from the Sky's 2021 championship team to play Friday.

"Everyone is so bought in to what they bring," Copper said. "Everybody is so passionate and motivated. I'm just glad the transition has been easy. We're working out the kinks on the court, but as long as we're playing together and we have that high energy, it's only going to get better ever single day."

Candace Parker to leave Sky, sign with Las Vegas Aces

Williams keeping close eye on Sky's offseason moves

Sky's Vandersloot latest star to join Liberty, Stevens leaving for L.A.

Sky's Stevens offically signs with LA, but Sky add Williams

S.C.'s Boston drafted No. 1 by Indiana; Sky pick guard who began career at Purdue

Don't call it a rebuild: Chicago Sky coach Wade thinks team can be competitive despite massive roster turnover

WNBA preview: Copper ready to accept lead role for new-look Sky

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.