Sky has plenty of buzz, but what about wins?

Teresa Weatherspoon was a legend as a WNBA player, making the all-star team five times, even though the league didn't exist until she was 31.

She's coached in college at Louisiana Tech, in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans, but her first game as a WNBA coach will be Wednesday when she leads the Sky into the season opener at Dallas.

The history raises plenty of questions: Why did it take so long? Was she even interested in WNBA coaching before the Sky called? Speaking to reporters Monday in Deerfield, Weatherspoon didn't want to dwell on the how or why of her new job.

“I never think like that,” she said. “When it's your time, it's your time. You have to just keep yourself in the now. And wherever I was during that time was in the now, I was in the moment. The moment this came and was available for me, I knew I was ready.”

There was an early plot twist in her role with the Sky. When Weatherspoon was hired last October, the goal was to maximize the Chicago years of all-star forward Kahleah Copper. In fact, Copper sat directly next to Weatherspoon at the podium during the introductory news conference.

In the ensuing months, the Sky didn't land the sort of high-demand free agents they hoped for. So they traded Copper to Phoenix for draft picks. Now Weatherspoon is heading a team highlighted by rookies Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso — except Cardoso is out with a shoulder injury and expected to miss another six weeks.

“Regardless of how it was going to go, it was going to be new,” Weatherspoon said. “It was a new coaching staff, so everything was going to be new. The culture was going to be new, the approach was going to be new.

“Everyone knows the story about Kahleah. But we had to move forward to get ourselves prepared and ready to go with the players we brought in. We feel very comfortable with who we have here and we're just going to build from there.”

The buzz level is high with this Sky team, thanks mostly to Reese and Cardoso, two high profile college players who both beat Caitlin Clark in the NCAA title game.

Expectations are low, however. Most predictions have the Sky finishing last in the 12-team league.

A successful formula for the Sky would probably resemble their second preseason game. Guard Marina Mabrey drained her first 3 shots from 3-point range, allowing the Sky to jump ahead early and roll to a 48-point win over a disinterested New York Liberty squad.

Mabrey has shot 36.1% from 3-point range during her WNBA career. But veteran additions like Diamond DeShields, Lindsay Allen and Chennedy Carter are all sub-30% 3-point shooters. Dana Evans is streaky, but just 32.2% as a pro.

The Sky figures to score in a variety of ways. Reese and veteran center Elizabeth Williams will try to pick up the slack while Cardoso is out. Reese scored 13 points in each of the two preseason games.

Mabrey and Williams played together during the winter, with Copper, on Turkish club Cukorova. That squad reached the EuroLeague Final Four before losing in the semifinals.

“We had a really high usage in pick and roll overseas and I think it translated into some chemistry over here.” Mabrey said. “It's always good to get extra reps.”

The Sky is counting on several players who didn't play in the WNBA last year, including DeShields, who played on the Sky's 2021 championship team. The Sky kept two former No. 4 draft picks who were out of the league, Carter and Kysre Gondrezick; while forward Isabelle Harrison missed all of last season with a knee injury and won’t play Wednesday.

Reese has a good connection with Weatherspoon. Both spent college years in Louisiana — Reese at LSU and Weatherspoon at Louisiana Tech. Reese's college coach, Kim Mulkey, was an assistant at Tech when Weatherspoon was a player.

“I love coach Spoon,” Reese said. “She's kind of like coach Mulkey, a tough coach, you have to have thick skin. You also have to be willing to be coached by her. She pays attention to detail. I'm just excited to soak up everything I can from her.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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