Sky-Silver Stars Preview
While the Chicago Sky have jumped out to the best start in franchise history behind Epiphanny Prince, Sylvia Fowles and star rookie Elena Delle Donne, they'll have to get by with two-thirds of that trio for the foreseeable future.
In their first game since losing Prince to international obligations, the undefeated Sky try for a fourth consecutive road win over the San Antonio Silver Stars in the opener of a home-and-home set Friday night.
Chicago (3-0) has never made the playoffs but now looks like a force to be reckoned with, posting 93.3 points and 42.3 rebounds per game to rank first in the Eastern Conference in both categories.
The Sky, though, could have a hard time keeping things going without Prince, who is set to join the Russian national team for the EuroBasket tournament from June 15-30. Prince and her team-leading 20.7 points per game will surely be missed, but Chicago appears to be in good hands with Fowles and Delle Donne.
While Fowles is averaging a WNBA-best 15.0 rebounds along with 14.3 points, Delle Donne has scored 19.0 per game to prove worthy of being selected No. 2 overall in this year's draft.
"I think she's handled these first three games really well," coach Pokey Chatman said of Delle Donne. "She's going to continue to work. We challenge her defensively because she's out on the perimeter a lot more, and that's been top of mind for her."
Delle Donne had a season-low 15 points Sunday while Prince scored a team-high 19 in a 92-71 win over Tulsa. Chicago shot 52.1 percent and held a 40-25 edge on the glass.
The Sky now turn their attention to the Silver Stars (1-1), who have dropped three straight home matchups in the series. Fowles has wreaked havoc in those contests, posting 24.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game. She had 23 and 12, respectively, in a 77-63 win at San Antonio in Chicago's lone visit last year.
Playing without injured All-Stars Sophia Young and Becky Hammon, the Silver Stars fell 79-64 to Indiana in their season opener before bouncing back Saturday with an 83-78 win over Los Angeles. Shenise Johnson scored 19 points off the bench while Danielle Robinson added 18 and a game-high seven assists.
"This group is a new situation," coach Dan Hughes said. "Who do we play through, how do we work together? I was just pleased to see them handle that."
Further big games from Robinson could prove crucial while Hammon remains sidelined.
"I knew coming into this season that was going to be more of an expanded role for me, especially with (Hammon) out," Robinson said. "You've got to be able to handle pressure, you've got to take it and enjoy it, and that's what I did."
These teams meet again Sunday in Chicago.