The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Chicago Sky have a successful future ahead of them

By Ashley Wijangco

The Chicago Sky began competing in their first-ever WNBA Finals this past Sunday, but there aren’t too many people who care, especially with the NFL starting back up at the same time. Besides, why should anyone care when the Sky were blown out by the Phoenix Mercury 83-62 in Game 1?

While I do care that the Sky have come this far, I honestly don’t care as much as I’d like to. Ideally, I’d like to say I’ve been following Chicago’s season very closely, but I haven’t. I honestly couldn’t even say I’m a die-hard Chicago sports fan, because I’m really not. I’m simply a die-hard Bulls fan that’s also a mediocre Bears, Blackhawks, Sky and White Sox fan, but that’s never stopped me from continually trying to develop a stronger commitment to other teams.

It’s at this time, more than ever, that I’m trying to give my attention to the Sky, and the rest of Chicago should be trying too.

The unquestionable star of the Sky, Elena Delle Donne, holds her team’s fate in her hands, but her persisting lower back problems could very well prevent Chicago from achieving success in the Finals. Delle Donne only played 10:24 in Game 1, going 1-for-4 from the field.

Heading into the third quarter, Indiana held a 42-20 lead, but Chicago held its own to finish the game with a 42-point second half. Obviously that wasn’t enough, but it just shows what kind of team the Sky is.

It’s still likely that, in a best-of-five series, the Sky will fall short of winning a championship, but the future still looks bright.

For one, having Delle Donne has been a huge game-changer for Chicago. The Sky proved to be a decent team before her arrival, with 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles and All-Star guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot. Then, in the 2013 WNBA Draft, Chicago was fortunate enough to select Delle Donne out of the University of Delaware with the No. 2 pick, and it would mark the start of a historic season for both the Sky and Delle Donne.

In her first season, Delle Donne was Chicago’s leading scorer at 18.1 points per game and the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year. Not only that, but the 6-foot-5  guard/forward also managed to finish third in MVP voting.

Chicago’s 2013 campaign featured its best regular season in franchise history at 24-10, good enough for the best in the Eastern Conference and second best in the league. That success also led to the Sky’s first playoff appearance ever, and they did so as the East’s top seed; however, having the top seed proved insufficient, as the Sky were swept by the Indiana Fever in the first round of the playoffs.

This year, the Sky finished the regular season at 15-19, but weren’t at full strength. Delle Donne, two-time All-Star and 2013 Rookie of the Year, was out for 17 games due to Lyme disease. Vandersloot had a knee injury that kept her out for half the season.

Despite that, Chicago managed to make it past the No. 1-seeded Atlanta Dream in the first round of the playoffs. The Sky then proceeded to defeat the Fever in the Eastern Conference Finals, the same team that ended their season a year ago.

The Sky have come a long way in a matter of just two seasons, from earning their first playoff berth to making it to their first championship series. They’ve quickly built momentum and improved upon each season. This may or may not be Chicago’s year. No one knows yet. But one thing’s for sure: the Sky have something going for them.

Ashley is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at wijangc2@dailyillini.com. Follow her on Twitter @wijangco12.

 

Leave a Comment