Elena Delle Donne scores 21 to keep Sky unbeaten
By Brian Sandalow For Sun-Times Media May 21, 2014 11:07PM
Updated: May 21, 2014 11:40PM
Sky coach Pokey Chatman doesn’t have a lot of familiar faces she can turn to early in the season.
She does have Elena Delle Donne and Courtney Vandersloot, and they kept the Sky undefeated.
Delle Donne scored 21 points and Vandersloot had 18 points and seven assists in the Sky’s 78-68 victory over the Connecticut Sun. Delle Donne and Vandersloot were the only players Wednesday who started in the team’s last playoff game in 2013, and they helped the Sky (3-0) withstand a rally that cut a 19-point halftime lead to six in the fourth quarter.
“It’s huge,” Chatman said. “[Vandersloot] is a vet now in her fourth year; Elena has to play like one. But I also give credit to all the newbies — new players having to adjust on the fly.”
One of those newbies, Jessica Breland, had 14 points and 15 rebounds, her second double-double in three games. The Sky held No. 1 overall pick Chiney Ogwumike to 18 points.
While the burdens on Delle Donne are obvious, Vandersloot also will shoulder more of the load as the Sky open the season without Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince. It’ll be up to Vandersloot to control an offense filled with many new players.
It’s early, but Vandersloot seems capable of doing what Chatman and the Sky need. She’s averaging 6.7 assists, and the Sky have won their last two games by a combined 24 points.
“Like [Chatman] said, I’m a vet now,” Vandersloot said. “We have so many new players — and a lot look to your point guard anyway — so there’s a lot more responsibility just to be able to run this team this year.”
Something also has clicked early for the Sky. After falling behind 30-14 to end the first quarter of their season opener, they’ve outscored opponents by 43 points, seemingly shrugging off the roster changes.
Chatman said that process started early in training camp.
“It was a matter of figuring things out,’’ Chatman said. ‘‘We utilized the training-camp opportunities against people to figure things out, so we didn’t have to figure it out on the fly. They have a little more comfort than you would think in that regard.”