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Sky wants to get a handle on turnovers

WashingtMystics v Chicago Sky (Pre-season)

Washington Mystics v Chicago Sky (Pre-season)

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Updated: July 1, 2012 12:19PM

Sky center Sylvia Fowles wants to cut back on turnovers.

And coach-general manager Pokey Chatman thinks her team might be slowly on its way to achieving that goal. Chatman will know for sure when the Sky opens the season Saturday on the road against the Washington Mystics (6, CN100).

“We focused on that from day one,” Chatman said. “We’re giving the [ball] up at a high clip.”

Fowles thinks that’s what doomed the Sky last season.

The Sky, which went 14-20 and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference, had the third-worst record in the WNBA in 2011 behind the Mystics (6-28) and the Tulsa Shock (3-31).

“We have to stop turning the ball over so much,” Fowles said. “We were averaging [17.6] turnovers last year, which was bad, and I think we could have been leading the league in turnovers.

“If we can cut down on that and focus as a team, not as individuals, we’ll be fine.”

The Sky made a few bold moves in the offseason that should help eliminate the turnover issue.

Chatman’s biggest acquisition was forward Swin Cash. The Sky traded its second-round draft pick to the Seattle Storm for Cash and forward Le’coe Willingham.

Cash brings a lot of cachet to the Sky. She has won three WNBA titles, two with the Detroit Shock and one with Seattle.

Former Notre Dame star Ruth Riley signed with the Sky as a free agent in February. A center, Riley came over from the San Antonio Silver Stars, where she started all 34 games and averaged 5.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. Riley won two WNBA titles with the Shock and was the Finals MVP in 2003.

And Chatman also signed guard Ticha Penicheiro as a free agent from the Los Angeles Sparks. Penicheiro was named one of the WNBA’s top 15 players of all time and holds the league record for career assists with 2,560. She also won a title with the Sacramento Monarchs in 2005.

“I like the quality of the depth we have,” Chatman said. “I like their energy and veteran leadership. They already know what to say because often they get tired of hearing coaches say the same things.”

Fowles would rather be a quiet leader and let Cash, Riley and Penicheiro take over in the vocal department for the Sky, which will try to make the playoffs for the first time in its seven-year history.

“They’ve been in this position in the league before to talk, and I don’t have a role where I have to talk like that,” Fowles said. “I still lead by example.”

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