February 6, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Kahleah Copper is headed to Phoenix Mercury; Meghan Andersen is elite

What's a Tuesday without a blockbuster WNBA trade and a rising star in Fairfield?

On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, host Howard Megdal is working overtime (well, more than usual). After a blockbuster trade saw Chicago Sky star Kahleah Copper traded to the Phoenix Mercury, Megdal discussed the details, including how Chicago stocked up on much needed draft capital and the impact of the trade on the WNBA free agency landscape.

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But first, Megdal was joined by Meghan Andersen, a standout freshman at Fairfield, to discuss the Stags’ incredible season so far and her part in their MAAC takeover. The Stags are 18–1 overall, limiting opponents to just 55.5 points per game and hitting 57.9% of two-point shots, good enough for 14th and third in the country, respectively, per Her Hoop Stats. As for Andersen, she leads Fairfield in scoring with 17.2 points per game, and may wind up with a 50–40–90 season in just her first year. The two first discussed Andersen’s recruitment, and what drew her to Fairfield.

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“It all feels kind of surreal, because it happened really fast,” Andersen said. “[Head coach Carly Thibault] wasn’t even there on my visit, obviously, so the FaceTime, the fact that she was able to be there some way meant a lot to me, and then getting to meet the coaches and talk about the culture, I think that’s really what what got me here. I hadn’t even really met the girls yet. But the way they talked about the type of family that they wanted to build, it really does feel like a second home here. And I think that was a big part of my decision.”

“I think it shows in our game, how close and how connected we are,” she continued. “I don’t want to say it’s rare, but … it’s not something you find everywhere you go. So I think that was a really important part.”

Then, they discussed the Stags’ supercharged defense, and how their defensive efforts have paved the way for improved offense. “When we play good defense, our offensive is much better on the other end,” Andersen said. “It’s tough, like you could be scoring, but if you’re not playing good defense, at [some] point, it’s kind of give and go there. But … we practice defense every day, and it’s a big part of our game, so I think that’s a huge factor in our scoring.”

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As for the Stags’ 24-point win at Rutgers, Andersen said the win “set the bar” for how Fairfield have approached the rest of their season — from a bird’s eye view, they’ve met those expectations and then some. “Within the locker room, I mean everyone was hyped for it, obviously,” she said. “I think part of the reason why we were up [as much as] we were was because of our connections, you know, we were just all having so much fun out there.” Like it was just it was a great atmosphere. And I think like, the way we played in that game kind of set like the bar for like how we wanted to play as a team further on.”

But wait, didn’t we mention something about a blockbuster WNBA trade with one of the league’s top wing scorers? Megdal also broke down the moves that brought Kahleah Copper, a 3x All-Star and, until now, face of the Chicago Sky, to the Phoenix Mercury.

“So what does this mean? Friends, it means that the Chicago Sky are in a full rebuild here,” Megdal said. “What do you do if you’re the Sky? Are you building around [Diamond DeShields]? Are you building around who you’re getting the 2024 draft? What do you do about 2025? Are we really looking at until 2026? What are they going to do about things like the practice facilities and other amenities to make themselves an attractive destination, and can that happen under current ownership? These are legitimate questions, vital questions that have not been answered.”

Megdal also discussed the possibility of bringing remaining free agent Elena Delle Donne back to the Chicago Sky, more on the details of the Kahleah Copper trade, and had plenty of extra conversation with Meghan Andersen on her Stags and the MAAC. Tune in to hear it all and make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

Written by The Next

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