Silver Stars-Sky Preview
While the San Antonio Silver Stars have learned to adjust without injured All-Stars Sophia Young and Becky Hammon, the Chicago Sky had their hands full in their first game without leading scorer Epiphanny Prince.
The Silver Stars hit the road for the first time Sunday looking for a third straight win and a home-and-home sweep of the Sky, who try to bounce back from their first loss.
San Antonio suffered a season-opening 79-64 defeat to Indiana but has since gotten on track. After beating Los Angeles 83-78 last Saturday, the Silver Stars cruised to an 81-69 win over Chicago on Friday.
The Sky, who had averaged 93.3 points in opening 3-0 for the first time in franchise history, were limited to a season-low 38.6 percent shooting with Prince off preparing to play for the Russian national team. The fourth-year guard, averaging 20.7 points, won't be back until next month, though she arrived back in Chicago on Friday to be evaluated after spraining her ankle in an exhibition Thursday.
"The reality is they were without Prince, who is a big part of their team," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "Every moment they will evolve a little bit. They will learn something about their team, just like we had to learn without Sophia (Young) and Bec (Hammon)."
While playing without Young (torn knee ligament) and Hammon (broken finger) hasn't been ideal, Danielle Robinson has given San Antonio a huge lift. Leading the club with 13.3 points and 7.7 assists per contest, Robinson had 18 and seven to go along with four steals Friday.
"As a point guard she's leading us," guard Jia Perkins said. "She's doing everything. If she has to score, she's scoring. She gets to the basket, finding the open man and that's what we need out of her. She's our leader. As she goes, we go."
Besides trying to contain Robinson, the Sky likely will need more from Sylvia Fowles. The All-Star center had 13 rebounds but posted just nine points Friday. Rookie standout Elena Delle Donne was the only starter to score in double figures, recording 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting.
"It was definitely a focus in the game, stopping (Delle Donne and Fowles), especially with Epiphanny out," Silver Stars forward Jayne Appel said. "We are really focusing in right now."
Chicago, which was outscored 42-32 in the paint and 10-0 in transition, will surely be looking to come out strong from the opening tip.
"From start to finish, they played much tougher than us," Delle Donne said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do offensively and then defensively we really came up short as a team. We weren't talking enough; we weren't on the help side. It's just the little things that we need to do on defense."
While San Antonio has posted back-to-back wins in Chicago, Young scored a combined 35 points in those games. Robinson also came up big with 16 in a 77-68 victory there July 11.
The Silver Stars haven't swept this two-game season series since 2008.