July 6, 2022 

Chicago Sky notebook: James Wade’s feelings, Vatansever steps up, Allemand settles in

Belgian break plans revealed

When James Wade took the podium for the first time since exiting the WNBA’s health and safety protocols, basketball wasn’t on the top of his mind.

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Chicago’s head coach/general manager was asked before the Sky’s game against the Phoenix Mercury how he was feeling physically. However, Wade mid-answer shifted to what has been the focal point in the WNBA’s discourse this season: frustrations with facilitating Brittney Griner‘s release from Russian confinement.

I was feeling bad yesterday because I didn’t wake up (testing negative). But then the stuff with BG came on and it just changed everything for me because if this is the worst that I have to go through…I felt bad feeling bad because I want her to be at home. I wish she could play in this game. I miss her and I want to see her. She should be here right now. Yesterday was her first court date and now the rules and the laws are pretty clear that she is not supposed to be in prison. I see a lot of people in [the United States] who don’t like black people and women. They’re blaming her. That is what I don’t like. We are really quick to say we are the best country in the world. That’s not true. I live in different nations. I know what is true or not. It’s so egotistical of us to throw that out there like that when we have a woman who represents everything we are supposed to stand for that’s sitting in a prison and we are just making posts. For me, it’s a shame. She has actually played for our country and brought it glory and this is how we are treating her. It’s disgusting.

James Wade, Chicago Sky Head Coach/General Manager

During the six days he wasn’t physically present with his team (he did speak to the Sky during halftime in the two games he missed), Wade mentioned a documentary called, “Who We Are: A Chronicle Of Racism In America,” which he watched during his absence. Jeffery Robinson, who, according to Wade, is from the Sky’s head coach’s town, wrote it and the documentary alters between a lecture he hosted with conversations with people from modern day, and archival footage and photos that illustrate the timeline of how America’s racism metastasized through the country.

Wade said he is going to show it to his son, Jet, once “he soon stops thinking about popsicles” because of how educational he found the documentary.

“It’s a good point of reference to how we have treated brown and black people and women,” Wade said “Especially black women.”

The Mercury are going to be holding a rally with Congressperson Greg Stanton Wednesday as they continue to fight for the release of their WNBA all-star, friend, family member, wife and member of their community since 2013. Here are some more notes from the Sky’s past two weeks.

Sky’s top assistant goes undefeated with Wade out

The media was waiting in Chicago’s championship club lounge for Wade to begin his pregame press conference when the Sky’s top assistant, Emre Vatansever, walked in the door. All four of us looked at each other in confusion when the Sky’s public relations coordinator announced Wade had entered health and safety protocols.

In his first two games as acting head coach, Vatansever went 2-0 against the Lynx and Sun. Chicago controlled most of the game against Minnesota before the Lynx staged a late comeback to tie the game with 7.6 seconds to go. Courtney Vandersloot, who is second in the league in clutch points this season, came through in the waning seconds of the game by hitting a three on the wing at the buzzer. Chicago handled Connecticut, outscoring the Sun 32-16 in the first quarter.

With his child in his arms after his second win, Vatansever was emotional after spending seven years in the WNBA as a coach.

“First of all, I’m very uncomfortable talking about myself. This is a team effort,” Vatansever said before taking a second to collect himself. “I’m someone who has come from overseas and knew nobody over here. It’s special. It’s grinding…it’s special.”

The room erupted with laughter when he asked Cheryl Ray-Stout, “Why did you have to ask that question?” in jest.

Allie Quigley also had high praise for Vatansever after the Sky’s most recent win versus the Sun.

“It’s been awesome,” Quigley said. “He’s put in so much work and the last five years. We were just so confident in him when he had to step up. He’s always working so hard and he has that temperament to be calm. We just have all the confidence in him.”

Julie Allemand finding comfort in Chicago

When Julie Allemand finished up her overseas season in France, she took a flight straight to Connecticut. She landed and hours later played in her first WNBA game since 2020. If anything symbolizes how abrupt women’s players need to adjust going from one season to the next, Allemand’s 2021-22 season is a good one to point to.

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Thankfully for Allemand, she had familiar faces on the team to catch her up to speed in Emma Meesseman and Ann Wauters, both who she played with on Team Beligum during the last summer Olympics.

“It was hard the first couple games because as a foreigner you don’t know the plays which was complicated,” Allemand said before the Sky’s 91-75 win over Phoenix on July 2. “I’m getting better and better. I was pretty tired too coming from overseas but you have to directly change your mind and have another role. I knew when I signed that I was going to be the backup to Sloot. It’s completely different to my first year in Indiana where I was pretty much the only point guard.

“But I’m happy to be here and learn from Sloot. To be with her all the time and seeing her play has been a great experience for me.”

Since the team has been on the road for most of her time with the Sky, Allemand hasn’t explored Chicago just yet. She said her and Meesseman were planning to go to Miami during all-star game weekend but are staying in the city after Meesseman was selected as a reserve. With a short break, she will finally have the chance to explore the city and will hangout with Meesseman, Wauters and Wauters’ family.

“I was waiting to get some time off,” Allemand said laughing. “I’ve here for maybe three weeks and in the beginning I didn’t have an apartment. I’ve also been waiting for friends or family to come so after the game we can [explore the city]. I can’t wait to do it.”

Written by James Kay

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