Chicago Sky 2010 Season Preview
Has Chi Town found the missing piece?
We continue previewing the 2010 WNBA Season with the Chicago Sky. You can read past previews here.
by Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Over the off-season, one of the biggest stories involved the three-way trade between New York, Phoenix and Chicago. Yet, as the media focused on Candice Dupree joining the reigning champions and Cappie Pondexter making her way to New York, Chicago’s additions went under the radar. Everywhere WNBA fans discuss their favorite league, you found links to every article written on Pondexter’s arrival in New York or a link to every photoshopped picture of Dupree in her new Phoenix uniform. It is understandable, but it was interesting that Chicago’s overnight improvement went unnoticed as a whole.
Although it was difficult to let Dupree go to Phoenix, the Sky became a much better team by simple math. Adding both Shameka Christon and Catherine Kraayeveld was a stroke of genius for Steven Keys team and, on paper, made the Sky a Playoff team. Christon, a fan favorite in New York and an All-Star is one of the WNBA players who most flies under the radar. That won’t be the case in Chicago. Kraayeveld is a fine player and her value to her new team is immeasurable, as she goes about her job quietly, not looking for media attention. Now, as is the case with all WNBA teams, health becomes one of the biggest issues.
Any discussion of health on the Chicago Sky begins and ends with Sylvia Fowles, who has only played 41 games through her first two years in the league. If Fowles is able to remain on the court, there are not many in the league–let alone the Eastern Conference–who can match up with her in the post. Although those who follow the WNBA know Fowles well, it is time for the Sky to find a way to keep her on the floor so her level of dominance can catapult the team into a Playoff berth. Only when that happens will casual fans truly notice the dominance and greatness of “Big Syl.” If the injury bug attacks Fowles again, the Chicago post rotation gets sketchy, but after a fine season overseas, this just may be the year for her to shine all season.
Another issue that may plague the Sky throughout the season is whether or not second year player, Kristi Toliver, will accept her role on the team. At this point, Toliver remains a backup point guard, but has stated in the past she should be a starter. Unless she dramatically improved while overseas, she must accept her spot and become an asset off the pine for Chicago. If she is able to do so, the Sky have another fine weapon at their disposal. As a great player in college, one can only hope she is able to complete the transition to a team player, willing to accept a smaller role for the greater good of the team.
This team has always had talented pieces, but also missing a piece or two. The team had little leadership on and off the court throughout their history, but addressed that glaring issue by bringing in Christon and Kraayeveld. Both players are under-appreciated around the league, but are also consummate professionals and, quite simply, what this team has lacked in the past. Although Chicago may not have the pieces to compete with the Indiana Fever, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, or the beasts out West, this season should be the first step in the turnaround of the team’s fortunes.
The summer of 2010 is a big season for head coach Steven Key. Fans have seemingly been on his case since taking over in Chicago as the team failed to make the Playoffs. In a somewhat weak Eastern Conference, the Sky have all the pieces to grab a Playoff spot. If they do not find the right chemistry and falter again, he just may be on his way out of town.
Quite simply, there are no more excuses. This team must take the next step this summer.