In a tumultuous year that saw an early exit from the playoffs and an 18-16 record, the management of the Chicago Sky decided Head Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman "will not be retained," according to a just-released statement.
Over the past six seasons, the Sky amassed a regular season record of 106-98 including an 18-16 campaign in 2016. The Sky lost in the WNBA semifinals this year to the eventual WNBA Champion LA Sparks.
“I have great appreciation and gratitude for the leadership Pokey brought to our franchise,” said Sky owner Michael Alter in a statement. “ She took a perennial non playoff team and made us a contender. Pokey is as knowledgeable and hard working as anyone in basketball. I’m thankful we had the opportunity to work together closely for the past six years and I wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Coaching the likes of 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Cappie Pondexter, and former center Sylvia Fowles, and the backcourt of WNBA All-Stars Courtney Vandersloot and two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Allie Quigley, the former DePaul University standout, the Sky were one of the most star-studded and talented teams in the WNBA, despite losing Fowles during the 2015 season after demanding a trade amid rumors of friction between her and Chatman, her former coach at LSU.
Chatman’s tenure was highlighted by two important franchise firsts: a first-ever playoff appearance in 2013 and a trip to the WNBA Finals in 2014. Following these two playoff runs, though, the Sky exited early the past two seasons in the playoffs. With the team's talent, led by Delle Donne, these early exits were likely the reason for Chatman's departure.
Additionally, the new coach of the Sky will also have to replace longtime assistant coach Christie Sides, who was named an assistant coach at Northwestern two days after the Sky's season ended.
Where to go next? Token Female's vote goes to legends Nancy Lieberman or Anne Meyers Drysdale. Lieberman, who's currently an assistant coach with the NBA's Sacramento Kings, is an original WNBA player and coach, is a great motivator, and is a pioneer of the women's game.
Chatman exited gracefully, saying:
"I want to thank the incredible fans of Chicago, my staff and all of the players for their hard work and dedication in helping to grow the franchise,” said Pokey Chatman. “I am proud of what we were able to accomplish, and appreciative of the opportunity given to me by Michael Alter."