It's been an awfully good Labor Day week for the Chicago Sky.
Their dream season continued as they concluded August with an 85-68 victory over two-time playoff finalist Atlanta Dream last Saturday night.
With the win, the Sky (21-8) clinched the top seed in the East, giving them home court advantage for both the first and second rounds of the playoffs.
Flying back to Chicago from Hot-lanta late Saturday night, Courtney Vandersloot, Shay Murphy and and DePaul's Allie Quigley got up early to get to Wrigley Field, where, under the watchful gaze of Cubs Manager Dale Sveum and new Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg, they sang a wide-eyed version of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" at the 7th inning stretch.
For Coach Pokey Chatman, clinching home field advantage was sweet.
"I had a good feeling just from training camp," said Chatman. " It was nice to see them continue some of the good stuff that started back in May. The biggest thing is that you know it's not about us, it's about the players and they start getting that confidence and that momentum and that takes you to different heights."
Part of that 'good feeling' must have stemmed from the singers' most recent stats. Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky's starting point guard, is a 2013 WNBA Most Improved candidate, averaging 9.0 points, 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
During guard Shay Murphy’s 29 game appearances, she has averaged 3.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and .818 free throw percentage per game.
Chicago-native and former DePaul University standout Allie Quigley, who was drafted in 2008 by the Seattle Storm, is averaging 4.2 points while shooting 88.9% from the free throw line.
More good news came Monday, when the WNBA announced that superstar guard/forward Elena Delle Donne was named Rookie of the Month for August. This is the third Rookie of the Month Award for Delle Donne, who's captured every Rookie of the Month honor this season.
Despite missing a week with a concussion and another due to a sprained left foot, Delle Donne led the WNBA in three-point percentage, shooting 59.3% behind the arc. She led all rookies in scoring (18.4) and rebounding (5.8).
On August 11, Delle Donne scored a career-high 32 points in an overtime victory against the Western Conference leaders, the Minnesota Lynx. In that game, she hit the game-tying three point shot with 4.5 seconds left in regulation forcing overtime. In addition to a career high 32 points she matched her career high in blocks (4), pulled down six rebounds and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
Delle Donne returned from her foot injury on August 20 with a game high 24 points and eight rebounds in Washington to defeat the Mystics. She recorded her 12th 20-plus point game of the season when she put up 25 points in Atlanta on August 24.
All that effort resulted in Delle Donne earning two WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week Awards last month. She took home the honors August 5-11 and August 19-25.
Delle Donne’s 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots to defeat the Atlanta Dream on August 31 assisted the Sky in securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference throughout the playoffs.
She is now tied for eighth all-time alongside Chamique Holdsclaw for rookies with 20-plus point games.
Also earning honors for the second consecutive month was center Sylvia Fowles, named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for August, the WNBA announced. She also earned the honor for the month of July.
During Fowles’ 12 game appearances over the course of August, she averaged 18.1 points and 11.3 rebounds. She currently sits as the league leader in rebounds per game (11.5) and field goal percentage (58.9%). She also ranks third in blocks per game (2.30) and double-doubles (14).
On August 18 against the Connecticut Sun, Fowles made WNBA history by becoming
the only player to mark two 20-20 games in a single season after scoring 20 points and
taking down 21 rebounds. Her efforts during this week earned her WNBA Eastern
Conference Player of the Week (August 12-18).
Next up, the Sky will face the Indiana Fever on Friday, September 6 at Allstate Arena The 7:30 p.m. game will air on The U Too and WNBA LiveAccess.
Delle Donne has something to say about that:
"Indiana has always given us some problems offensively so we need to make sure we can execute in that game," she said. " But defense is everything for us and something you can control every night."
It's Military Night at Allstate Arena. Members of the military are invited to attend the Military Veteran Career Fair between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. in the Skyline Room at Allstate Arena.