Game Notes: Sky 84, Storm 75

Box Score (Attendance = 2,923) || Recap || Photo Gallery || Preview

Sky got their first win of the season last night…and it feels great! Great because it was win #1. Great because it was at home. Great because it was against the previously undefeated Seattle Storm. Great because the Sky played so well together.

There were lots of positives to take from the game. First of all, our interior defense was ON POINT. With the exception of a few missed assignments and/or bad rotations, the Storm got nothing easy in the paint. Big Syl was obviously a major part of this, but, honestly, everyone did their part. All the bigs and all the guards made sure that Seattle had to fight for everything in the lane.

With that said, some our defensive schemes really confused me. In the beginning of the game, I think we were playing some kind of man-to-man/zone combo defense or something. Whatever it was, on several possessions, it ended up that (a) Big Syl was defending guards on the perimeter and (b) Perkins or Canty were in the paint defending Lauren Jackson. It was weird. The Storm kept getting offensive rebounds because our best rebounder was positioned 20 feet from the basket. The Sky pretty much corrected this by the end of the 1st though.

Also, Big Syl didn’t actually defend LJ 1-on-1 until well into the second half. It was Kraayeveld who drew that assignment (dang, first Catchings for two games, then LJ!). I guess there are probably two reasons why this was done. First of all, Key probably wanted to keep Big Syl out of foul trouble. If she were guarding LJ, she’d be much more susceptible to picking up silly fouls. Fowles ended up with only one foul. On the other hand, LJ spent the entire game defending Big Syl and ended up with 5 fouls. Good decision, Key. Secondly, perhaps the Sky would rather Big Syl not have to focus so heavily on one player so that she can have more freedom to float around the paint and try to erase everyone else’s defensive mistakes. Both of these make a lot of sense and obviously they both worked out in our favor because we got the convincing W…but Big Syl looked soooo good defending LJ in the paint in the 2nd half. Wish we coulda seen more of that! Overall though, with the exception of the weird rotations where our guards repeatedly ended up in the paint defending Storm bigs (and, in turn, allowing Seattle to get a ridiculous number of offensive boards) the Sky came into this game with a great defensive plan. Sky coaching staff definitely out-coached Agler and co in this one.

The Sky didn’t have a 3rd quarter meltdown or letdown last night. They came out of halftime strong. They did, however, start to implode at the end of the game. They were up like 20 with 5 minutes to go but they were playing like they were down 20. They repeatedly turned the ball over because they were rushing things. Why are you trying to play so fast when you’re up double-figures and there’s only a few minutes left? Slow down, use some clock, make the easy pass and get a decent look at the end of the shot clock. Either way, the Storm came back and made a game of it at the end, but honestly, I don’t think the Sky ever really felt threatened.

Anyway, lets break this down some more…

Canty and Prince are a great PG rotation. Key pretty much just rotates them in and out interchangeably. It’s not often that you don’t lose anything when put in your backup PG. This definitely wasn’t the case last year. Regarding Prince, we need to get this “Prince 4 ROY” campaign started NOW! It’s gonna take a herculean feat to take the ROY away from Tina Charles, but Prince can definitely do it…at the very least, give Charles a good run for her money.

Epiphanny Prince is straight-up ridiculous! As I’ve been saying all along, each game she gets noticeably better and better. Last night against the Storm, we saw her start to break out some of those fancy NY playground moves! I know that she’s our point guard, but I love it that she’s looking to score more now than she did at the very beginning of the season. Don’t get me wrong, Prince is not a gunner. She’s just really, really good at balancing her PG duties with her scoring abilities. She’s so confident and so polished out there…she truly does not look like a rookie. I think I may be on the verge of finding my new favorite Sky player…

I love it when TYoung plays well. When she plays well, she pretty much lifts the entire team with her because of her energy and hustle. Tamera had a RIDICULOUS block on some unsuspecting Bing player and afterwards she just stood there shaking her head in the lane like “uh, no…GET THAT OUTTA HERE!” I despise cocky players, but oftentimes it seems like all of our Sky players are just entirely too nice…we need someone to add a little ‘tude and swagger into the mix. Way to go, TYoung! Overall, it was a great game for Tamera. She was everywhere and active on both sides of the ball.

Big game from Big Syl tonight. I don’t want to jinx her, but her free throw shooting has been RIDICULOUS this season! I mean, she must have worked really, really hard on FT’s this offseason because this has been an extremely dramatic turnaround from the first two years. Wow. Just wow. Big Syl also took a couple 15-footers from the top of the key last night. Went 1-2 from out there. Not bad. Hitting free throws, expanding her range, and even passing out of the post…maybe this really will be Big Syl’s breakout year! As I mentioned earlier, some of our defensive rotations were really weird and Syl found herself out on the perimeter a lot. This often times put her in bad rebounding position.

Speaking of rebounding, I really expected Big Syl’s rebouding numbers to go up with the departure of Dupree. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Big Syl has improved in all aspects of the game this season, but honestly, she should be able to get double-digit boards every game, right? I mean, she’s had double-digit rebounds only once in first five games (granted, she did have a couple games with 9 rbs and one game with 8). When watching her, I don’t know what it is. Sometimes it seems as if she’s just out of position; sometimes it seems like she’s getting out-muslcled and pushed out of the way; sometimes it seems like the entire opposing team is working together to keep her off the glass and other times it looks like she’s just not fighting very hard for boards. I dunno. It’s probably a combination of all of these things. I mean, since she’s obviously our strongest rebounder, she’s gonna command the most attention from opposing players as the ball is coming off the rim. When the opposition focuses so much attention on keeping Big Syl off the glass, other players probably need to make more of an effort to step in and grab those boards. Double-doubles from big Syl every night seems like it should be feasible though…but that may just be asking her to do entirely too much.

Kraayeveld is also in the running to become my new favorite Sky player. She literally does EVERYTHING! We’ve already discussed how she’s been guarding the best player on the floor for the past 3 games. Her effectiveness against Catch is, uh, debatable, but it was a valiant effort regardless. She also knocks down trey and plays solid D…she even be crossin’ people up and taking ’em off the dribble to the hole! Kraayeveld is the ultimate do-everything utility player. She’s definitely a HUUUUGE asset for the Sky.

Although her shot hasn’t been falling, Christon looks really good at times during the game. At other times, she seems to disappear for long stretches. She’s definitely still battling injuries (leg and neck, I think) and she took a brutal elbow to the nose late in the game last night. Hopefully she can heal-up soon.

ET is always solid. She always hits timely shots. Always hits her free throws. Always makin’ things happen. Another one of my favs…

Jia hit some nice shots early and I thought this was going to be the game where she breaks out of this slump she’s kinda been in all season. Didn’t quite happen, but it was a decent game for her.

Our backup bigs — Bass, Irvin and Olajuwon — all did good in their limited minutes. Bass had a really strong offensive board and putback in the second quarter. She’s usually really good on the offensive glass…that alone should get her a few more minutes per game. Our starting bigs (Kraayeveld and Big Syl) are logging heavy minutes. These guys gotta step up and relieve the starters more or else our big dogs are gonna be burnt out by the end of the season.

On the Bing side, Svetlana Abrosimova was the player that I was most impressed with this game. She’s feisty. She plays feisty defesnse. She hit a three-pointer from about 5-6 feet behind the line. It was a set shot. She had a defender in her grill. Insane.

Overall, this was a FANTASTIC game! Everyone played well and we looked like a well-run, well-coached team out there. Some articles from the game…

* A R T I C L E * Fowles has 19 to lift Sky over Storm for first win of the season (Daily Herald)

“It feels good to get this win and we’re happy about it,” said Sky forward Cathrine Kraayeveld, who finished with 14 points, including some clutch 3-pointers and free throws down the stretch. “But we just know we can do better. Those last four to five minutes just really wasn’t our best game.

* A R T I C L E * Fowles scores 19 to give Sky their 1st win (Chicago Breaking News)

* A R T I C L E * SKY 84, STORM 75 Fowles, Sky deal Storm first defeat (Chicago Sun-Times)

”Sylvia was great the way she took it to Lauren and got us off to a good start,” Sky coach Stephen Key said. ”But we’ve got to find other strong rebounds besides her. We’ve got to work hard in getting a body on people and having good team rebounding.

I totally agree with Key about the rebounding thing.

* A R T I C L E * Sky score first win, hold off previously undefeated Storm (USA Today)

* A R T I C L E * Chicago Sky Supports Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (OutSports.com)

The Chicago Sky will host Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Thursday, May 27 when the Sky host the Seattle Storm. Quinn has established the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF) to raise money to assist with the financial burden placed on families who have had members deployed overseas. Quinn will speak about the Fund and receive an initial donation from the Sky during half time.

Governor Quinn didn’t make it to the game, but they had a really nice presentation at halftime with a lot of military folks in attendance. Sky continue to do big things in the community!

Lastly, you can find some pre-game, in-game and post-game chatter going on here (Rebkell) and here (Chicago Sky Talk)

*NEXT GAME* May 29th (Saturday) — 7pm vs. Lynx @ *Minnesota*

~ Chicago Sky Hoops ~

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~ by audsquad on May 28, 2010.

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