4 things the Chicago Sky should try to get done

  • After getting swept in the WNBA Finals by Phoenix, the Chicago Sky has some work ahead to get to the next level.

    After getting swept in the WNBA Finals by Phoenix, the Chicago Sky has some work ahead to get to the next level. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/26/2014 8:46 PM

While Chicago sports fans are often told to "Wait 'til next year," Sky fans simply can't wait until next year.

After winning the Eastern Conference championship during an improbable run to the WNBA Finals in spite of the ridiculously long list of injuries and setbacks, one would think the sky literally could be the limit for this team next season -- if good health is part of the equation.

 

The talent is certainly there.

With Sylvia Fowles, Elena Delle Donne, Epiphanny Prince, Courtney Vandersloot, Jessica Breland and Allie Quigley, the core of this team is rock solid, and one of the best in the WNBA on paper. Head coach Pokey Chatman also picked up a couple of promising young players through the draft in Jamierra Faulkner and Markeisha Gatling. And veteran Tamera Young proved to be an invaluable leader and role player again this season.

However, for the Sky to really break through, to not just get invited to the dance but to also be the belle of the ball, there is some work to do.

Here is an off-season to-do list:

1. Contingency plan: The health of Delle Donne is such a scary unknown. Hopefully, she doesn't have any more serious issues with Lyme disease. What's frustrating, she explained, is that it can rear its ugly head without warning. Delle Donne entered this season in the best shape of her life, stronger and fitter than ever. She put on 12 pounds of sheer muscle, but her flare-up flattened her and kept her out for 17 games.

The back problems she suffered at the end the season and throughout the playoffs were likely a byproduct of the strain of a quick return to elite competition after so much time away.

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The Sky needs a viable "what-if" option for Delle Donne. Young filled in admirably, but she is more of a defensive specialist. The Sky needs a proven scorer at forward when Delle Donne is out of commission.

2. Better ball control: I've always been a huge Sylvia Fowles fan. We big girls stick together. I think the Sky should pound the ball inside to Big Syl as much as possible, because when she's on her game, she's the best female post player in the world.

Sometimes, however, Fowles can be all or nothing. She's either muscling her way to baskets, or she's losing the ball in double or triple teams.

Fowles, as a center, was tied for second in the WNBA in turnovers per game (2.9) this season. Even with Delle Donne in the mix, opposing defenses are still sending multiple defenders at Big Syl. Her job before next season is to get better, much better, at recognizing the double and triple teams, and passing out of them effectively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

3. More 3's, please: The Sky ranked in the middle of the pack in the WNBA in team 3-point field goal percentage (.332). Overall, the Sky made and took the third-fewest 3-pointers in the league, with 119 makes on 358 attempts. In comparison, the Phoenix Mercury, which swept the Sky for the WNBA title, connected on 178 of 508 3-pointers.

San Antonio, the top 3-point shooting team in the league, was 226-of-630 from beyond the arc. Better and more frequent 3-point shooting by the Sky will help make its top-tier post trio of Fowles, Breland and Delle Donne much more effective.

Quigley, who led the team in 3-pointers with 41, can't do it all for the Sky from long-range. Prince must up her game, and another effective shooter needs to be signed.

4. Good luck: A horseshoe, some four-leaf clovers and perhaps a giant flyswatter to crush any injury bugs that buzz around next season might also be good investments for the locker room. After a season in which every starter was sidelined for multiple games, the Sky could use some luck next year.

What else? Hey Sky fans, let me know what else the Sky needs to work on before next season. Email me at pbabcock@dailyherald.com.

Patricia Babcock McGraw has covered the Sky since its inaugural season in 2006. She is also a sideline reporter for Sky TV broadcasts. Follow her on Twitter @babcockmcgraw.

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