August 5, 2020
Cheyenne Parker continues ascent in Sky win
The Sky forward is bringing her own brand of passion to the starting lineup
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Cheyenne Parker #32 of the Chicago Sky plays defense against the Dallas Wings on August 4, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally caught the ball on the wing with 8.4 seconds left on the game clock. With the Wings down one point, she turned to the basket to make a play.
Then Cheyenne Parker made a better one.
“I just reacted,” Parker said in the post-game presser. “We all thought it was going to Arike and we were all anticipating a ball screen in the middle of the floor with her.”
For the rookie Sabally, it’s a teaching moment. For Parker, it’s a continuation of the impact she’s had all season.
Parker scored 15 points and had seven rebounds, two assists and four steals in Tuesday night’s game. She pulled down five of her seven rebounds on the offensive end and all five boards led to scores — a pair of free throws and three putbacks from Parker, as well as a dish out to Sky guard Allie Quigley for three.
The sixth-year forward is posting career highs in nearly all counting stats and she’s shooting more efficiently from the field this season despite the minutes increase. Parker has started every game since Sky center Stefanie Dolson went down with an ankle injury after the season opener.
“I’ve always been a pretty good scorer in the paint and I think this season is like, I’m just improving and getting better at just burying girls,” Parker said.
Sky head coach and general manager James Wade has focused on getting Parker post touches, and Parker’s improved feel around the rim has paid dividends.
“She’s important to us,” Wade said about Parker after the game. “To anchor us, give us a body to play to in the post, give us paint touches… She made some good plays down the stretch and that’s what we expect from her.”
When she’s in the paint, Parker is taking that extra second to work the defense instead of just going straight to the rim every time. She’s going up and under defenders and using her body to create space more this season.
“He emphasizes me ducking in a lot,” Parker said. “So he wants me on the block, he wants me ducking in because he just knows that it works for us.”
But Parker’s success has come in a multi-headed attack from players up and down the Sky’s roster.
“The percentage is up there, but I feel like everybody is leading in scoring right now because it’s such a balance, all the way around,” Parker said. “I feel like we’re all just playing our role, doing our part.”
Chicago has six players scoring in double digits and seven players are taking seven or more shots per game — last season the Sky only had four double-digit scorers. The offense is flowing even without last year’s leading scorer, Diamond DeShields, playing at 100%.
Wade said that hopefully the team can get healthier and that having Dolson back will help with load management. But last year’s WNBA Coach of the Year also noted that fatigue and injuries are part of a condensed season like this year’s.
“We just have to deal with it,” Wade said. “This is the cards that we’ve been dealt with and we just have to play.”
Chicago Sky join players across the league in wearing ‘Vote Warnock’ shirts
Walking into Tuesday night’s game, Sky players wore ‘Vote Warnock’ shirts in support of Reverend Raphael Warnock, a democrat challenging U.S. Senator and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler’s Georgia Senate seat in the November special election.
Loeffler has been outspoken in her opposition to WNBA players’ support of Black Lives Matter and has drawn criticism from players across the league, including her own team, calling for her resignation.
“I’m not sure why she wants to be a part of the WNBA,” Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot said after the game. “She doesn’t support anything that we stand for, and we’re very clear and it’s very open about what we are about here.”
The Sky’s twitter account featured pictures of players in the shirt before the game. Players also donned the shirt for post-game press conferences.
Parker said she doesn’t have a political opinion on Warnock, but wore the shirt for her teammates and to help remove Loeffler from ownership.
“Obviously I support that because she doesn’t stand for what this league stands for,” Parker said. “So whatever it takes to get her displaced and removed, I’m willing to participate in it.”
Loeffler has been adamant that she will not abandon her stake in the team despite widespread criticism across the league.
“I can’t figure it out, I can’t understand it,” Vandersloot said about Loeffler’s statements. “I probably never will. Like I said earlier, it’s very clear. You know, we’re an incredible league that has always been very vocal. And we have 80% of black women who are absolutely amazing, and if you feel so strongly about that then why are you even associated with the WNBA? That part I don’t understand. We don’t need you. And that’s that.”
Sydney Colson makes her Chicago Sky debut
After weeks of quarantining, testing and watching her teammates from her hotel window, Sydney Colson is back on the hardwood.
“Glorious, it feels glorious,” Colson said after Monday’s practice. “I just wanted to step outside, get some fresh air. I couldn’t open the window, all I could do was watch my teammates enjoy themselves and laugh, and I didn’t know what they were laughing about.”
The veteran guard, who arrived in free agency from Vegas, played five minutes Tuesday night. While the only stat she recorded was a turnover, it was a chance for her to get her feet underneath her.
“Well I thought, just to have one practice, I thought her five minutes were good,” Wade said in the post-game presser. “You know, she’s going to get some of our lingo, some of our schemes down and her vocabulary, as far as the language that we speak, will add on to that and her knowledge of our playbook will probably grow too in the short term.”
Wade added that Colson allowed Vandersloot to get some “much-needed rest” and also let Chicago’s bigs take a breather while Gabby Williams, who also plays at point, played the four.
“We do have very similar styles of play,” Vanderlsoot said about Colson after the game. “You know, she’s a much better defender than I am. And she pushes it just like I do, we try to get our teammates better.”
Colson averaged 3.3 points, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals last season in 12 minutes for the Aces. With Chicago finding success using an assortment of lead ball handlers, including Kahleah Copper, DeShields, Quigley, Vandersloot and Williams, there will be no rush for Colson to adjust to the Sky. In a season where games are non-stop and minutes will become more important to manage every coming week, Colson should go a long way in keeping Chicago fresh.
“It’s just a different dynamic, she’s gonna really pressure you on defense, and I think that’s awesome coming off the bench, really getting into guards,” Vandersloot said. “She’s vocal, she can score in different ways. I think it’s just having a vet come off the bench, you know I think we’re the same year, so just having someone come off that you can really count on to play big minutes once she gets the hang of things will be huge for us.”