June 9, 2024 

What Elizabeth Williams’ torn meniscus means for the Chicago Sky

Teresa Weatherspoon: 'It's gonna take the whole team to bring what she brings'

For only the second time all season, the Chicago Sky entered their June 6 game against the Washington Mystics with all 12 players available to play. By halftime, though, the team’s luck had run out.

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Starting center Elizabeth Williams did not return to the game. The team later announced she tore her meniscus and will need surgery, and the Sky’s announcement did not indicate whether Williams will be able to return this season.

Though the Sky are fortunate to have depth at the post position — with 6’7 rookie center Kamilla Cardoso now joining the starting lineup — Williams is a big loss for the 4-6 Sky. The veteran was averaging 10.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. 

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Offensively, Williams’ pick-and-roll with Marina Mabrey was one of the more reliable actions in a half court offense that has struggled to create clean looks.

Williams was also the sixth-best shot blocker in the league and likely the team’s most valuable defensive player. Assistant coach Sydney Johnson told The Next he believed her calm, toughness and intellect helped anchor the Sky’s defense. 

“It’s gonna take the whole team to bring what she brings,” head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said in a press conference after the injury was announced.

For Weatherspoon, Williams’ absence makes the Sky’s rotation more complicated. Three of the team’s key contributors — Cardoso, Isabelle Harrison and Diamond DeShields — are returning from injury and remain on a minutes restriction. Though Brianna Turner and Michaela Onyenwere could theoretically help fill these gaps, Weatherspoon has thus far shied away from heavy usage of either player.

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Kamilla Cardoso joins fellow rookie Angel Reese in the starting lineup

Chicago Sky center extends her arm to guard Washington Mystics center <a rel=
Chicago Sky center Kamilla Cardoso (10) plays defense against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson (31) in a game at the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 2024. (Photo credit: Domenic Allegra | The Next)

After missing her first six games with a shoulder injury, Cardoso may have benefited from a gradual return to the rotation. Instead, she will join Angel Reese in a demanding, trial-by-fire entry into the W.

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In Cardoso’s starting debut against the Atlanta Dream, she and Reese each scored 13 points, tying for the team-high with Dana Evans in the 89-80 loss. From the bench, Williams continued to mentor and inspire the Sky’s youngest frontcourt players.

“E has done a great job teaching me some of her tricks,” Reese told reporters after the game. “She was telling me how to guard Tina [Charles] tonight.”

“I’ve been watching E-Will long enough,” Cardoso said. “I’ve seen all the good things she did, so I just tried to go out there and apply all the things that she normally do.”

When the Sky drafted Cardoso and Reese with the No. 3 and 7 picks in the 2024 draft, fans eagerly envisioned a future built around the two. Now that future has arrived early.

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Written by Alissa Hirsh

Alissa Hirsh covers the Chicago Sky for The Next. She is also a high school basketball coach at her alma mater and is writing a memoir about the difficulty in leaving her college basketball career behind. Her hometown of Skokie, Illinois, is known for having the top bagel options in the Chicagoland area. Before joining The Next, she co-founded the Sky Townies.

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