Sky have eventful week with pair of wins, Obama visit
It was an eventful week for the Chicago Sky with huge road victories over Connecticut and New York as well as a visit with former President Barack Obama.
The Sky went 2-1 on a three-game road trip, edging the Sun and Liberty after a close loss to Washington. Chicago was able to overcome the second triple-double of New York’s Sabrina Ionescu’s career with a last-second 3-pointer by Courtney Vandersloot.
Before embarking on the trip, the Sky spent about 20 minutes with Obama at his office in Chicago. The meeting was set up by the team’s ownership group.
“It was amazing. I know him from being from Illinois,” Candace Parker said. “The first time I met him I was like 14. To see him was cool. ”
Chicago coach James Wade, one of three Black male head coaches in the WNBA, was moved by the meeting.
“Once he comes into the room you’re in awe” he said. “All these feelings come up since he changed the way you think. He gave you hope for what you can imagine and what your kids can imagine.
“All those come to light when he talks to you. Having that feeling there was something you can’t put into words.”
Wade and the players said Obama talked about many of their strengths and weaknesses.
“He knows the players. He told them how they play and what they do,” Wade said. “He’s not just a basketball guy, but he’s a WNBA fan. He’s a Chicago Sky fan. To know he watches us and knows our players is pretty cool.”
This week’s WNBA poll:
1. Las Vegas (11-2): The Aces continue to be the class of the league with the dominant inside-outside combination of A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum.
2. Connecticut (10-4): The Sun play three games this week with matchups against Atlanta, Seattle and Washington. Connecticut is still looking to get more consistent on the defensive end without Jasmine Thomas (ACL).
3. Chicago (9-4): The Sky have won five of their last six games and Emma Meesseman has been a major reason why. The free agent signee averaged 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists last week.
4. Washington (9-6): The Mystics got a scare when Elena Delle Donne had her back tighten up in a win over Chicago. The team has been cautious with her return this season after she missed all of last year. In her absence, Myisha Hines-Allen stepped up to help fill the void.
5. Seattle (8-5): The Storm have been on a roll lately, winning three straight behind Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. The two have combined to average over 47 points a game during the winning streak.
6. Atlanta (7-6): The Dream have dropped two in a row and have a challenging week ahead with road games against top teams Connecticut and Chicago.
7. Phoenix (5-8): Three straight wins have lifted the Mercury out of the bottom of the standings. Next up this week are games at Washington, Indiana and Dallas.
8. Dallas (6-7): The Wings have struggled at home this season going 1-4 and hope to change that when Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles all come to Dallas this week.
9. New York (5-9): Sabrina Ionescu has been a major reason for the Liberty’s success lately as they’ve gone 4-2 over their last six games. She’s averaging 24.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists during that span and tied the WNBA record with her second career triple-double on Sunday against Chicago.
10. Los Angeles (5-8): A coaching change didn’t immediately help the Sparks, who were routed in their lone game last week. Having some practice time under Fred Williams hopefully will help the Sparks get better on defense.
11. Indiana (4-12): The Fever snapped a five-game skid with a win over Minnesota thanks in part to No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith. She’s been a bright spot for the team this season and is part of the talented young core the franchise is building around.
12. Minnesota (3-11): The Lynx lost center Sylvia Fowles indefinitely to a knee injury last week. Fowles is playing her final season in the WNBA this year.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Breanna Stewart of Seattle was voted the AP Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks. Stewart averaged 25.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists to help the Storm to three wins. Ionescu of New York and Wilson of Las Vegas also received votes.
HEARING ABOUT BRITTNEY
The Phoenix Mercury had a meeting with State Department officials on Monday to learn about the Biden administration’s effort to secure Brittney Griner’s release from Russia.
“Knowing the State Department at the highest level, from U.S President Joe Biden to the team that is working on bringing back all Americans who are wrongfully detained, gives us a lot of confidence that they’re working on it,” Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said in a release from the team.
A documentary (“Unfinished Business) about the New York Liberty debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday. The Liberty are the only remaining original WNBA franchise not to win a title. The film gave a behind-the-scenes look at last year’s team as well as splicing in footage and interviews with many former Liberty greats like Teresa Weatherspoon.
“It was great to be part of that film and spend a night out with this group,” Ionescu said on the red carpet before the premiere. “As the film title states we still have work to do.”
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Storm at Liberty, Sunday. The Storm visit New York in what is most likely Sue Bird’s final appearance in her hometown as a player. Bird has said that this will most likely be her final year in the WNBA.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports