Women's watch: Time is now for Sky to dig deep

Updated 7/7/2017 8:32 PM
  • The Chicago Sky is nearly halfway through its 34-game schedule. At 3-12, there is plenty of room for improvement. The time is now to dig deep

    The Chicago Sky is nearly halfway through its 34-game schedule. At 3-12, there is plenty of room for improvement. The time is now to dig deep Associated Press

After tonight's game at Allstate Arena against the best team in the WNBA, the Minnesota Lynx, the Chicago Sky will be nearly halfway through its 34-game schedule for the 2017 season.

At 3-12, and coming off to a loss last week to previously winless San Antonio (1-14), the Sky has plenty of room for improvement.

This struggle shouldn't be a shock though. The Sky has a brand new coach in Amber Stocks and lost an elite franchise player in Elena Delle Donne in a forced trade during the off-season. That came after the loss of another elite franchise player in Sylvia Fowles (also a forced trade) a year earlier.

In fact, in its brief 12-year history, the Sky has lost three franchise players in Delle Donne, Fowles and Candice Dupree, who was the first draft pick in franchise history and went on to great success with the Phoenix Mercury and now the Indiana Fever. Add Kristi Toliver, another top draft choice for the Sky who was traded away early in her career and evolved into a consistent high-end player and a WNBA champion, and the Sky has suffered debilitating losses through questionable and/or forced trades that take NBA teams decades to recover from.

So what to do?

For now, Stocks is doing what she can: experimenting with lineups and combinations, relying heavily on veteran guard Cappie Pondexter, who plays the most minutes in the league in her 12th season, and trying to find a way to get even more production out of center Stefanie Dolson, the Sky's pick-up in the Delle Donne trade.

It's not like the Sky is getting blown out in most games. In fact, oftentimes, the Sky is competitive and in a position to win. But turnovers have been a problem. Late-game decision-making and shot selection have been a problem. Not having a consistent 20/10 go-to player has been a huge, huge problem.

Help could be on the way for next season if Alaina Coates can get healthy. The Sky selected the South Carolina center with the second pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. But Coates is still recovering from a severe ankle injury that forced her to miss South Carolina's NCAA national title run in the spring.

But next summer is a long way away, and many Sky fans are still irritated about losing Delle Donne and Fowles.

The time to dig deep is now. Respectability is still a possibility.

Super season:

Big Syl is playing huge.

Former Chicago Sky star center Sylvia Fowles is having a career year in Minnesota this season.

In her third year for the Lynx, who visit the Sky at 7 tonight at Allstate Arena, Fowles is averaging a career-best 20.6 points and nearly a career-best 10.3 rebounds per game. She is second in the WNBA in both scoring and rebounding, third in blocks (1.9 bpg) and fifth in steals (1.7 spg).

Right now, she is my choice for MVP of the league.


Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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