Undefeated Chicago Sky host Memorial Day Weekend games

Undefeated Chicago Sky host Memorial Day Weekend games
Elena Delle Donne is averaging 22 points per game in 2014

Despite the absences of All-Stars Sylvia Fowles and Ephiphanny Prince, the Chicago Sky have gone undefeated in their first three regular season games. Their all-time record is 7-0, at the beginning of the 2012 season.

To longtime fans and followers of the Sky, whose first playoff appearance was just last season after eight years in the WNBA,  the loss of two key players would have spelled doom in previous years.

Instead, the Sky opened the 2014 season with a 74-71 victory over their Eastern Conference  archrival Indiana Fever at Allstate Arena.

Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman, who's starting her third season (2011) with with Sky, emphasized that the Sky's strength as a team was hardly a happenstance.

"It all started in training camp, " Chatman explained Wednesday in the Sky's postgame notes. "We knew early on we would be without people, so we're not adjusting on the fly. It was a matter of figuring things out. We really utilized the training camp."

However, it should be noted that Fever star, Chicago native, and future WNBA Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings wasn't in the lineup. The Sky are 2-0 without her over the past two seasons, and 0-4 with her in the lineup.

The Sky most recently hosted the rebuilding Connecticut Sun on Wednesday, in their inaugural 'School Day Field Trip' game, coming up with a 78-68 win.  Three Sky players scored in double figures, led by Elena Delle Donne's 21 points.  New Sky forward Jessica Breland recorded her second straight double double with 14 points and 15 rebounds to set a new career-high.

New Sky forward Jessica Breland, who survived non-Hodgkins lymphoma at UNC, is making a big splash in her first season with the Sky

New Sky forward Jessica Breland, who survived non-Hodgkins lymphoma at UNC, is making a big splash in her first season with the Sky

Breland, who came over from Indiana this season, contributed nine points, three steals and four blocked shots in her first regular-season game against her former team.

 "It all starts with us liking each other and supporting each other," said Breland in postgame comments. "We know each other's weaknesses and strengths. We just try to play to emphasize that."

Prince is set to rejoin the team following a standard physical on Friday morning. Last season, Prince  averaged 15.0 ppg.  This will be her fifth season with the Sky.

 "We're excited to have Epiphanny join us and look forward to her returning to top form," said Chatman in a team press release. "The most important thing is for her to get some practices under her belt and find comfort with her new teammates."

Memorial Day Weekend will be a busy one for the undefeated Sky. They will play the Atlanta Dream, 2013's finals runner-up, on Saturday, May 24, at 7:00 pm. Former teammate Swin Cash, an integral part of the Sky's run to the playoffs last season, became a Dream after a contract extension couldn't be worked out.

Ever aware that the Sky's players are role models, Saturday night's theme is Family and Faith Night, complete with a post-game panel discussion on what faith means to the players and the coaching staff.

Before the post game panel begins, children 14 years and under will have the opportunity to step foot on the same court as their favorite Sky players and attempt a free throw.

What is Memorial Day without a picnic? Monday’s Memorial Day showcase will kick off the Sky’s  'Hoops for Troops'  initiative. Starting at 12:30 pm in the West Parking Lot,  the Sky hosts a tailgate, complete with (complimentary) food and beverages.  The festivities including a DJ, face painting, caricature artist and balloon artist.

Gametime is 2:30 pm, and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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    Alison Moran

    Sports Commentator, WRLR 98.3 FM (http://wrlr.fm) Women's Sports Director, SRN Broadcasting; Guest Lecturer on Women's Sports/Women's Sports Issues

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