Women's Watch: Chicago Sky reminded of Prince's lethal play

 
 
Updated 8/9/2015 7:58 PM

Most kids in New York like to turn playgrounds into Madison Square Garden.

Former Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince, a Brooklyn native and a huge Knicks fan, certainly did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's what kids who play basketball in New York dream of. When you're out on the playground, you're always like, 'This is the Garden,' " Prince said. "I got the opportunity to play there in high school a few times, and that was cool.

"But to say that I work there every day now, to me, it's just so awesome. It's a blessing."

Prince, the second all-time leading scorer in Chicago Sky history, was sent to the New York Liberty before the start of this season in a trade that brought Chicago native Cappie Pondexter to the Sky.

On Friday, Prince, who spent five seasons in Chicago, played in her first game at the Allstate Arena from the opposing bench. She reminded Sky fans of just how lethal she can be, dropping a game-high 30 points on the Sky in New York's 77-63 victory.

Prince was a sizzling 4 of 5 from 3-point range and 11 of 14 overall from the field. She was just 3 points shy of her career high.

"I had fun," said Prince, fondly recounting some of her highlight-reel moves. "But it's really just another game. I feel like people try to play it up and make it something that it isn't. I'm not mad at anybody (about the trade), there's no animosity. I just approach this game like I would any other game."

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Of course, it wasn't quite like any other game. Prince usually doesn't have blocks of fans cheering for her at road games.

"There's this group of people from section 110 that have always been great," Prince said of the Allstate Arena faithful. "I had fun seeing them. They always show me love on Instagram and Twitter. And I saw some other season-ticket holders who have always been nice to me. That was fun."

New York coach Bill Laimbeer certainly had fun watching his new acquisition. He's still in the honeymoon phase with Prince, who ranks second on the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game. She missed the first 10 games of the season while fulfilling obligations with her off-season team in Russia. Friday's Sky game was Prince's 10th with the Liberty.

"Piph really carried us (tonight)," Laimbeer said. "She just got hot, and when she gets hot, get out of the way. She can do whatever she wants to. She can assist, she can score. When she's rolling, it's just 'Oh, wow.' "

Prince says that she feels great and has worked hard on her game and her fitness over the last year. She has lost weight, is eating better and has improved her defense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Every year, I try to come back a little better defensively. I feel like I can score and get my teammates involved. I just don't want to be a liability on defense," Prince said. "I don't want teams to be like, 'Let's attack Piph.'

"I always try to add something new, whether it's losing weight so I can get around better or doing foot speed and agility stuff to get faster.

"When I was overseas, me and (Minnesota Lynx all-star guard) Seimone Augustus really pushed each other to eat better and do extra cardio. We cut our carbs. We were eating chicken and veggies every day. It's so boring, but we saw results so we kept doing it."

Since she arrived in New York, Prince also has been getting private tutorials with former WNBA great Teresa Weatherspoon, an original member of the New York Liberty in 1997 who played there for seven years.

"It's been fun for me. I've been learning the system and working with 'Spoon' every day," Prince said of Weatherspoon, arguably the best point guard in WNBA history. "I like working with her. She's trying to add more things to my game. I'm always learning every day with her.

"And Bill (Laimbeer) has a lot of confidence in me. A lot of times, he's yelling at me to shoot, shoot, shoot, even if I think it's a bad shot. To him, it's a good shot. When your coach has that much confidence in you, it's fun to play. You're not worried about anything."

The only thing Prince is worried about these days is tickets. She goes beyond her team-allotted amount for every home game.

Since scoring a national-record 113 points in a high school game in 2006, Prince has amassed a legion of dedicated followers in the New York area.

"Everyone is always asking me for tickets and that can be annoying sometimes," Prince said with a laugh. "But it's still fun, too. During games, I look and I see my family over here, and my friends and other people (from her neighborhood and school) over there. It's great.

"I just love being home, being with all my friends, being able to hang out. Sometimes when I'm overseas, I feel so lonely. I miss my family and friends. So now, for me to be able to see them for three to four months straight, it's amazing for me.

"Besides the tickets, I love everything about New York."

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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