April 21, 2022 

Chicago Sky training camp Diary: Day 4

Ann Wauters and Emma Meesseman add new wrinkle to relationship

DEERFIELD, IL. — Four days through the Chicago Sky’s training camp, the intensity is starting to ramp up at Sachs Recreational Center. Players have become more vocal and have a better understanding of how to run head coach and general manager James Wade’s plays. In the parts of practice available to the media, charges were taken more often while every shot attempt at the rim was greeted by multiple defenders.

Wade envisioned this type of atmosphere when he loaded up his training camp roster. As each player’s familiarity with the Sky’s system grows, so does the competition.

“[Allowing physicality] is the best way to introduce them to the WNBA,” said Wade. “I think they understand that this is a physical game and a physical league. We don’t want to foul, but we do want to get them ready because we have a game next week and we know it is going to be physical.”

Chicago has two more practices left before hosting the Dallas Wings at Wintrust Arena on April 25th. Wade said the plan is for the game not to be made available to the public, which has been the case in previous years. They will finish the preseason versus the Indiana Fever on April 30th at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Here are some more notes from training camp today in Deerfield.

Ann Wauters and Emma Meesseman‘s new dynamic

Newly acquired forward Emma Meesseman and assistant coach Ann Wauters aren’t exactly strangers. The 2019 Finals MVP played with her new coach on Belgium’s national team during the 2020 Olympics before Wauters retired during the offseason. She told the Chicago Tribune she was planning on taking time off from basketball before Wade approached her about being on his staff.

Months later, Wauters thwarted that plan and has reunited with Meesseman. The two have spent some time together before training camp with Wauters’ family to explore Chicago before her kids returned to Belgium. So far, the transition from being Meesseman’s teammate to coach has been easy.

“Actually, it hasn’t been weird,” said Wauters. “It’s so familiar, and it’s been really cool. To be here in a different kind of role, I am learning and observing a lot. With Emma specifically, I know her so well which means I know what she needs. It’s been easy for us to have that connection already.”

The feeling has been mutual for Meesseman.

“It’s different,” she told The Next on Monday. “I’ll probably never call her ‘coach’ because she is still my teammate. We can talk about basketball and it’s not different from what it was like on the national team. It’s like with [Courtney Vandersloot] and Allie [Quigley], too where you can just share your views and she’s not going to say ‘that was wrong.’ We’re just going to talk about it and then find the best way to work through it.”

Meesseman and Wauters’ teammate in Belgium and Sky combo guard Julie Allemand is also excited to report to training camp. According to Wauters, Allemand asked Wauters to give her one play the Sky were running so she can be prepared for when she eventually finishes her season in France.

Allemand, who averaged 8.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 2020 with the Fever, will play a different role with the Sky this season. She will backup Vandersloot but will see minutes at shooting guard as well.

Wauters also believes Allemand’s high work ethic will blend in well in Chicago.

“Just being here for a couple of weeks, the environment the Sky have created on the court, around the court and having coaches ready to work…she’s absolutely going to love it here,” said Wauters.

Sky supporting Kysre Gondrezick after loss in the family

Up to this point, everyone who attended training camp practiced today outside of Kysre Gondrezick. The former Fever lottery pick was not at camp today so that she could be with her family. Gondrezick’s sister, Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskins, was married to former NFL player Dwayne Haskins, who died after being struck by a truck on April 9. The memorial service for Haskins is scheduled for tomorrow.

Wade said he checked in on Gondrezick and said it is a “fluid conversation” about when she will be back in camp.

“It’s been a tough week for her,” said Wade. “We just want to support her as much as we can. It’s just really tough when you have to go through these things at such a young age. It never ceases to amaze me her strength in dealing with all of the things she has dealt with.”

Gondrezick has brought a lot of energy to camp over the first three days in practice. She told The Next earlier this week that Wade spoke with her about having “high expectations” for the combo guard and how she’s been excited to be in a place with “championship expectations” (more to come on her for The Next next week).

Written by James Kay

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