By David Siegel
Pokey Chatman and the Chicago Sky
The WNBA season is in the books and the Minnesota Lynx completed their impressive run with a sweep of the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA finals. For the second straight year, Marynell Meadors’ Dream reached the finals, only to get swept by a dominant Western Conference team (Seattle in 2010, Minnesota in 2011).
Nevertheless, the Dream is a team that may still be on the rise, filled with “young veterans,” players with experience, but still only a few years into their WNBA careers. Angel McCoughtry, Sancho Lyttle, Erika de Souza, Armintie Price and Lindsey Harding form a starting five that will be tough to contend with in future WNBA seasons.
Last week on the podcast we discussed the teams chasing the Lynx in the Western Conference, this week the podcast will focus on a couple of the teams chasing the Dream in the Eastern Conference.
We talked about the Indiana Fever with head coach Lin Dunn during the playoffs, so we will leave them out of this discussion for now. The New York Liberty made great strides this year, led by perennial Most Valuable Player candidate Cappie Pondexter, but as long as they have the turmoil of facilities in multiple states, they will have a struggle to have a home court advantage and be a strong contender.
On the podcast I talked to the head coaches of two Eastern Conference teams, one made the playoffs perhaps earlier than expected, one was disappointed to not make the playoffs. One coach has been in the WNBA for several years and has made runs to the WNBA Finals, one completed her first year after success on the college and international levels. Both have dominant centers that are All-WNBA players, both have young point guards who made this year’s All-Star teams. I’m talking, of course, about the Connecticut Sun’s Mike Thibault and the Chicago Sky’s Pokey Chatman.
Thibault’s Sun team is a young squad with Asjha Jones and Kara Lawson being the lone rotation regulars with more than six years experience. Tina Charles, in only her second year emerged as an MVP. candidate, and the post combination of Charles and Jones was one of the best in the league. Lack of experience may have hurt them in their first round playoff series versus Atlanta but the Sun is definitely a team that improved dramatically and will be looking for even more next season. Thibault and I discussed the team, the growth of his young players, the importance of a healthy Jones and more.
Chatman’s Sky was a team with high hopes that received a major blow prior to the season even beginning. Shameka Christon was counted on for a significant role in the rotation at small forward, but her injuries led to her being waived during training camp. Despite the loss of a key component, the Sky showed improvement in several areas over prior seasons. Sylvia Fowles was the most notable, by staying healthy and strong, and had the dominant season people had been predicting for her since coming into the league. Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot played somewhat inconsistently, but showed flashes of the potential Chatman is hoping for out of her young backcourt. Tamera Young was a solid contributor at small forward, and veterans like Michelle Snow, Dominique Canty and Erin Thorn all contributed, but it was not enough to push the Sky into the playoffs. Chatman, as candid as ever, discussed with me the highs and lows of her first year in the WNBA. We talked about what is there, and what is lacking, and what she hopes to add for a future playoff run for the Sky.
Tags: Angel McCoughtry, Arminite Price, Asjha Jones, Cappie Pondexter, Courtney Vandersloot, Dominique Canty, Epiphanny Prince, Erika de Souza, Erin Thorn, Kara Lawson, Lin Dunn, Lindsey Harding, Marynell Meadors, Mike Thibault, Pokey Chatman, Sancho Lyttle, Sylvia Fowles, Tamera Young, Tina Charles