Forget the Finals..or the outcome for the Chicago Sky in the closerthanthis 87-82 loss in the WNBA Finals. Without Brittney Griner, who was injured by Sasha Goodlett in Game 2, the Sky made a game of it even in the sweep. They were thisclose to a Sunday matchup at UIC Pavilion
And there were these highlights at the old stomping grounds, from the WNBA's pr office:
- Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot set a WNBA Finals record with eight assists in the first half, and tying the WNBA Finals record for most assists in a game with 11.
- The Sky held Phoenix to just 41.1% shooting in the second half, after the Mercury hit on 57.1% of their shots in the first half.
- Elena Delle Donne scored 23 points in Game 3, outmatching her previous Finals-high of 22 points in Game 2. Delle Donne also grabbed five rebounds.
- Sylvia Fowles took advantage of Brittney Griner’s absence, scoring 20 points, including 14 in the first half. Fowles also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
- 2014 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Allie Quigley delivered 19 points, including 10 in the second half. Quigley also grabbed five rebounds.
But nothing could have prevented the Phoenix Mercury from capturing the 2014 WNBA Championship this year. The combination of Diana Taurasi and former Chicago Sky player Candice Dupree proved such a potent, powerful force.
First-year Mercury coach Sandy Brondello knew it was going to be a tight game, but said:
"I always had confidence that we would close out because that’s what we’ve done all season long. There’s a reason we’re 29-5. We did have some close games, believe it or not, and we executed when it mattered and obviously we have the best player in the world, Diana Taurasi. And regardless what happens before, when you put the ball in her hand at crunch time, she makes it happen."
Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello
I was talking with a few reporters after the game. One told me "This is going to be the matchup for the next couple of years."
And then, there's this press release from the WNBA front office.....
ESPN’s Double Digit Audience Increases Generate Most-Viewed WNBA Playoffs Since 2007
ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 WNBA postseason generated the largest television audience for the event since 2007, posting double digit increases in ratings and viewership over 2013.
Overall, ESPN, ABC, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS combined to televise 10 games, reaching 489,000 viewers and a 0.3 US household ratings for increases of 90% (vs. 257,000 in 2013.
ABC was home to the WNBA Conference Final Game 2 on Sunday, Aug. 31 – a 96-78 Phoenix victory over the Minnesota Lynx – ranking as the most-viewed WNBA postseason game on ABC since 2007 (828,000 viewers, 0.6 rating).
The Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 between the Detroit Shock and Indiana Fever on September 2, 2007, averaged 839,000 viewers based on a 0.7 rating.
The six WNBA Conference Semifinal games on ESPN2 posted a 100 percent ratings increase over last season (0.2 HH US rating vs. 0.1) and a 31 percent increase in viewership (262,000 viewers vs. 200,000 viewers).
And now...the offseason is officially on...
But for most professional athletes, there's never an end to the season. Many of the WNBA players and coaches will make a run for Europe.
Delle Donne told me in the press conference she's staying, once again, in the United States, helping to build the WNBA's brand and continuing to serve as an Ambassador for the Special Olympics.
And the Sky will be helping others learn the game of basketball.
Sky High Hoops clinics will run from September 2014 to April 2015 with the first clinic scheduled for Sunday, September 21 at the University of St. Francis In Joliet, IL. Other clinic locations slated for the 2014-15 offseason include: Waukegan, Chicago, Lisle, Deerfield and Elgin. For a full schedule of Sky High Hoops dates and locations visit: http://www.wnba.com/sky/news/