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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Women’s Watch: ‘Sky is the limit,’ Pondexter says

By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald

And, just like that, the Chicago Sky’s promising season ended earlier than expected.

On Monday, the Sky, a 20-win team seeded second in the Eastern Conference, was eliminated from the WNBA playoffs by third-seeded Indiana, a team it had swept 4-0 during the regular season.

The disappointment in the interview room later was clear to see. The Sky, which advanced to the WNBA Finals last year and expected at least that much this season, was a bit shellshocked. I give credit to Sky forward Elena Delle Donne for trying to find a positive just moments after the final buzzer.

“This has been by far my favorite team to play on,” Delle Donne said. “It’s such a special group of players. That’s what will stand out the most.

“It’s just the chemistry. It’s something you really can’t put words to. I’ve been on teams before where we’ve done team-building exercises, trust falls and all that stuff. This team, we didn’t have to fake it or do a single thing to build what we have with one another, and that’s what’s so special. Everyone is so unique and different but somehow we’ve all come together and formed a family.”

Important for sure. Team chemistry will go a long way to building a champion. But let’s be honest, the Sky needs more than warm fuzzies to prevent another early exit next season.

The Sky needs some defense, which was a big issue all season.

The Fever, a team that averaged an unremarkable 78 points per game and was an average shooting team (42 percent), scored 100 points and shot a blistering 58 percent from the field in the Game 3 clincher at Allstate Arena.

That was the Sky’s problem in a nutshell. For most of the season, the Sky led the WNBA in opponents’ scoring average (79 ppg).

“Obviously, our defense was something that was up and down and inconsistent all season and tonight that showed,” Delle Donne said after the Game 3 loss.

The loss of all-star center Sylvia Fowles (midseason trade to Minnesota) hurt most from a defensive standpoint. Her shot-blocking, shot-changing abilities and presence in the lane were underestimated.

While perimeter players such as Delle Donne, point guard Courtney Vandersloot and reserve guard Allie Quigley were good on offense, each of them, at times, was a step slow on defense. Frequent breakdowns on the perimeter put pressure on the defense.

Guard Cappie Pondexter, who was brought here via a trade with New York for guard Epiphanny Prince, says the difference between making the playoffs and winning a championship will come down to personal accountability during the off-season.

She should know. She won two titles with Phoenix.

“Individually, when it comes to defense, it’s something that has to do with pride,” Pondexter said. “Just wanting to get stops. It’s not about skill always — a lot of it is each person and wanting to get those stops.

“We’ve got to get better.”

Time is ticking for Pondexter, a Chicago native who was excited to play in her hometown. She is in her 10th season and has battled injuries the last few years. She knows she’s in the twilight of her career and she has a sense of urgency. You could see it in the huddles as she sternly encouraged her teammates to work harder on defense.

“All of our goals that we had listed from the beginning of the year haven’t (been reached). But that doesn’t mean we should stop to individually get better,” Pondexter said. “We’ll remember what our goals are going forward and the sky is the limit.

“I think we’re solid. I like our core. I think we’re tough. We’re going to get better in the off-season. (Delle Donne) told me we’re going to win a ring together, and I believe that.”

So D-up, Sky! Defense might win you a championship.

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Sky’s Delle Donne signs with new marketing agency

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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These women won the week

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Football? Nah, let’s talk Delle Donne

By Ryan Marshall – DelmarvaNow

With football in the NFC East being so bad, let’s not forget an Delaware icon.

The NFC East is set for a down year.

It’s early, but right now none of these teams are ready for a playoff push.

The Eagles have forgotten how to play football.

The Cowboys are all injured.

The Redskins are emerging as the team to beat.

That doesn’t sound right, nor will it last.

And the Giants, who should be 2-0, can’t close a game.

Never before had I been this excited for an Eagles season. Never have I been let down this much. I still have faith in Chip Kelly, but it’s fading fast.

While all this is set to change in the next 2-4 weeks, one of Delaware’s most beloved athletes won an honor of her own.

That’s where I found my solace over the pain of the NFL.

University of Delaware grad and No. 2 overall pick Elena Delle Donne won the WNBA MVP on Sept. 16.

The 26-year-old then went on to score 40 points for the Chicago Sky, two shy of the WNBA playoff record. Chicago was knocked out of the playoffs but it was still a year to remember for Delle Donne, with the scoring title and MVP award.

This all comes after her well-documented struggle with Lyme’s Disease that forced her to miss more than half of the Sky’s regular-season games in the previous season.

“That was pretty scary last year,” Delle Donne told The News Journal, “just seeing if I’d be healthy enough to be on the court. When I finally felt like I was able to get the Lyme under control I had the back injury.

“It does make it that much sweeter this year that I was able to be on the court almost every single game with my teammates and do something really special as a group.”

Delle Donne also provided me with one of the biggest sporting events in my young journalism career. My senior year at UD, Delle Donne and the rest of the women’s basketball team made it to the 2013 Sweet 16 after hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Newark.

It was the loudest I had ever heard the Bob Carpenter Center in those wins against West Virginia and North Carolina.

The trip to Bridgeport, Connecticut, was worth it even in the Blue Hens’ loss to Kentucky.

Needless to say, she’s been one of my favorite athletes for the simple reason that I got to go to school with her and talk about sports, much like Atlanta Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow, who also played lacrosse on my brother’s high school team.

Delle Donne always had the skills and height to compete at the college level, but it’s a true testament to her work ethic to battle Lyme’s Disease while going toe-to-toe with the WNBA’s best.

And with the state of the Philadelphia Eagles being so bad, that’s just the kind of news I needed.

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New WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne praised by LeBron James, others

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Delle Donne’s MVP year includes mastery of free throws

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Named 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Delle Donne Wins MVP

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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The Chicago Sky’s unstoppable No. 11: Elena Delle Donne

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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Elena Delle Donne Emerges as Face of the W.N.B.A.

At 6 feet, 7 inches and roughly 300 pounds, Miles Bankston was his usual formidable obstacle in Elena Delle Donne’s path, but common sense and team protocol dictated he not flip the franchise player on her head as she drove toward him 10 days before the season opener.

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