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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Scouting Myself by Elena Delle Donne

Welcome to Scouting Myself, a new series where professional athletes give elite high school athletes the opportunity of a lifetime: The chance to break down film, run drills and discover what it takes to make it to the next level — straight from the pros themselves. Our next installment features WNBA All-Star Elena Delle Donne.

Back in high school, I was confused and felt a bit lost in terms of what to do next with my basketball career. If I could’ve had a professional basketball player come to my school and answer some of my questions, it would’ve meant the world.

I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Isabelle. Hopefully I’ve been able to help prepare her for the recruitment process.

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Reigning MVP Enjoying Scorching July For Sky

Via WNBA

The Sparks and Lynx may have stole the early-season headlines, but reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has been heating up with the weather, as the windy, brutal Chicago winter has given way to the blistering heat off Lake Michigan.

She’s been on an absolute tear since the calendar hit July, averaging 23.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to go along with a sizzling 50.7 FG% and 45.2 3PT%, all monthly highs for her this season. In fact, her torrid stretch now has her leading the league in scoring with 21.3 points per game for the year.

There’s been no doubt that Dellle Donne’s stellar play has led to the resurgence of the Chicago Sky, who are currently 11-12 and sit just half a game behind the Atlanta Dream for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Sky are on the rise, winning five of eight games in July behind EDD’s MVP-like performances. Additionally, they have won three straight contests heading into Friday’s matchup with the Connecticut Sun, their last game before the Olympic break.

Let’s take a look back at some of Delle Donne’s best plays in July to visually appreciate her greatness.

Delle Donne’s versatility was on display as she charges coast-to-coast for the reverse layup off the steal to tie the game at 84 against the Mystics. Chicago would go on to win this game 86-84 to start their July off in the right column in the standings:

With the historic Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, coupled with the sensational play of rookie Breanna Stewart and stellar start to the season by Tina Charles, Delle Donne was a forgotten woman of sorts around the league. The superstar has returned to form after a sluggish beginning, however, and has been turning heads lately. If she can keep it going after the Olympic break, the Chicago Sky can easily find themselves in the playoffs this season.

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Delle Donne Stars in Nike Basketball Film

Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne gives us a taste of her dedicated work ethic in Nike’s latest film.

The training certainly has paid off. The reigning MVP hit one of the most clutch shots of the season this week to beat the Seattle Storm.

Having already achieved the league’s highest individual accolade, Delle Donne says she’s now determined to do whatever it takes in order win a WNBA Championship.

Her quest for a title will have to be temporarily put on hold, as she is currently preparing to help win a Gold medal for the USA Women’s National Basketball Team in this summer’s Rio Olympics.

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Bringing Versatility To Life In MVP-Caliber Performance

Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky haven’t had the smoothest summer. A year after EDD’s MVP campaign led the Sky to a 21-13 record, and second place in the Eastern Conference, Chicago opened the 2016 season 1-4. Now, about two-thirds of the way through the season, the Sky sit at 10-12, right amongst the pack of six teams within two wins of each other vying for the Nos. 4-8 playoff seeds.

Due to the new playoff format, and the fact that nearly every team is still alive in the postseason chase, each progressive game becomes more and more important. Sunday night’s game against the Storm was no exception, especially considering just one win separated the two clubs entering the game. As the Sky make their push for the playoffs over the last dozen games, they’ll need EDD at her MVP-best. Which is right where she was on Sunday in Seattle.

Delle Donne poured in 35 points on a neat 14-for-24 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds, and drained the game-winning three right over Breanna Stewart’s outstretched arm with just one second remaining.

It was an offensive clinic, with Delle Donne dominating the Storm from all over the floor, then breaking their hearts in the final second.

Her versatility was never more apparent, as she scored from all three levels. In the process, she packed a whole season’s worth of moves into her performance, giving us a perfect case study of why she’s so difficult to guard.

Let’s start inside, first taking a glance at her work on the offensive boards. At 6-foot-4, Delle Donne is one of the league’s taller players, but due to her elite athleticism she often operates on the perimeter. This frequently forces opponents to try and guard her with a wing, usually giving Delle Donne a decided size advantage.

Such was the case Sunday, as Alysha Clark received the unenviable task of being the Storm’s first option against last year’s MVP. The 5-foot-11 Clark is a veteran, but experience only goes so far. On both of these occasions, Clark starts with inside position, only to see Delle Donne simply jump over her or muscle her out of the way.

Offensive rebounds aren’t the only way to score inside, of course. Here we’ll see Delle Donne show off her guard-like ball-handling and quickness to put the ball on the deck and cruise past Sue Bird. Then, a second later, she reminds everyone of her toughness by finishing through contact for an and-one.

On this one play, she came into contact with a point guard and a forward, and beat them both at their own game.

Again we’ll see Delle Donne’s full skill set on this possession. After grabbing the defensive rebound, she pushes the ball up the floor like a point guard, takes a few hesitation dribbles to lull the defense to sleep like a wing, then finishes through contact down low like a post.

Next we’ll move out to the mid-range. First, Delle Donne once again shows the downside to defending her with a smaller wing, as she casually rises up over Clark to bury the pull-up jumper. Clark contests well, but there’s nothing she can do giving up five inches to EDD.

Then Delle Donne backs Clark down in the mid-post before draining the turnaround jumper. Solid defense once again, but the height difference gives Delle Donne the upper hand.

Finally, though not operating on the block, Delle Donne shows off her post moves, schooling the rookie Breanna Stewart with a series of fakes.

Last but not least is the three-ball, which Delle Donne is knocking down at a 42.1 percent clip, the second-best mark of her career and good enough for ninth in the league.

As we see on this play, she’s capable hitting from downtown in a catch-and-shoot situation, just like many other bigs who can stretch the floor.

But what separates Delle Donne once again is her ability to combine guard-like qualities into a forward’s body. Few players in the league can hit three-pointers off the dribble like this, let alone 6-foot-4 forwards.

Even with the long arms of Breanna Stewart in her face, Delle Donne is unbothered, rising up to hit the game-winner.

Sunday night in Seattle, EDD was versatility personified, bringing the basketball buzzword to life with a fierce MVP-like performance that earned the Sky a crucial victory.

And on Tuesday night against the Mercury, she’ll try to do it all over again.

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Even Elena is playing “Pokemon Go”!

Via ESPNW

By now, just about everyone has jumped on the “Pokemon Go” craze. If you don’t believe me, you should probably just go outside and see EVERY SINGLE PERSON wandering aimlessly and staring at their phones.

And it’s not just normal people getting in on the fun — even athletes have joined in. On Friday, Elena Delle Donne helped Chicago Sky teammate Erika de Souza catch one of the animated creatures after practice.

Helped @erikasouza14 #catchemall today after shoot around! I don't know this guys name. Help me out here.

A photo posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

Yup, they’re even at Allstate Arena. There’s no escape, people. We all should probably just embrace this cultural phenomenon. At least, you know, until the next viral craze hits in two weeks.

Source: http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17084151/even-elena-delle-donne-playing-pokemon-go-here-proof

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Delle Donne, Battling Lyme Disease & Inspiration

Via ESPN

Three-time WNBA All-Star Elena Della Donna has faced her share of body challenges — from being teased for her height as a kid to her ongoing battle with Lyme disease. For this summer’s Body Issue, she talked to ESPN’s Morty Ain about how she’s coped and what serves as her inspiration.


We play an amazing caliber and brand of basketball, and people try to cut that down because they are just comparing it to the men’s game. “Oh well, she didn’t dunk in that game!” “Whatever, they’re just girls, nobody wants to watch that.” That’s pretty frustrating. We are the most elite players in the world. This is my life, and it’s what I’ve put in 22 years of my life doing.

I support lowering the rim. When you think about it, there probably isn’t a guy in the NBA who can’t dunk, so it should be the same way for the females. If we lowered it to 9 feet, maybe even lower, we can have our point guards getting up there and dunking the ball. I think that would make our game extremely fun to watch.

I have a pack of game gum. I go to the store and stare at the gum until I pick out the right one — somehow one will pop out to me. Once I buy it, no one is allowed to touch the packet or it’s ruined. I’ll take a piece and chew it in the first half, and if things aren’t going well and we aren’t playing well, I have to change the piece of gum. Because obviously, it’s the gum’s fault; it’s not our fault that we’re playing bad [laughs]!

My biggest challenge is trying to stay healthy with Lyme disease.At my worst, I have muscle aches and fatigue and various symptoms, like you get when you have the flu. Then there are days I’ll wake up a little bit tired or my muscles aren’t recovering as well, but I keep that in mind and will alter my training. I also have to eat really well and stay away from foods that will make my inflammatory system go crazy.

I take around 50 supplements a day to battle it. I think it’s always surprising to people that I have a chronic illness and I play a professional sport.

It took the doctors two months to figure out what was going on with me. I had my first relapse my sophomore year in college. A lot of tests can’t detect it, especially when it’s gone chronic and reappears. I was sleeping probably 18 hours a day, not eating much, and I lost probably about 35 pounds. I had literally told my parents, “I think I’m dying.”

I said I wanted to be the best female basketball player in the world when I was 4. I’ve always had really lofty goals.

I’ve worked with the same personal trainer since second grade. My brother, who was three years ahead of me in school, played basketball, and I always would tag along to his workouts or games. He was doing a workout one time and I just asked, “Hey, can I hop in?” The trainer was in shock. But he let me continue to work with my brother and come along. I still work with him today. He’s like family now.

My entire day revolves around stressing my body, putting it through rigorous workouts and then giving back to it. It can be up to four and a half hours a day. This sport takes so many years and hours of training.

When I first got to the WNBA, I felt like throughout a game I was losing my endurance. I wasn’t performing nearly as well in the third and fourth quarter as I was in the first half. So I got a new strength coach back in Delaware, and we really worked on core stability and endurance, doing circuit training. People wrote that I put on 12 pounds of muscle. That might have been a bit of an exaggeration. But I definitely put on muscle and lost body fat.

I used to tell my mom all the time that I wished I were shorter. She’s 6-2 and my dad is 6-6, so she understood. She was like, “I’m telling you, one day you are going to realize how beautiful your height is.” She would always tell me how unique I am and say, “Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person.”

It used to be annoying when kids would make fun of me for my height. It’s funny because height is an attribute where people feel like they can call it out. Like, if I’m at a grocery store, someone will be like, “You’re so tall!” Kids would be like, “Oh my god, you’re taller than my dad.” “Oh, you look like a monster!” “I don’t look like a monster, I’m just tall.” Those would be hurtful things that kids would say, but I don’t think kids even understand that that comes off as rude.

My dog’s huge. He’s a Great Dane, so I knew he was going to be huge, and it’s something that I absolutely adore. When he stands up on his hind legs, he is my height. And when he’s on four legs, his head comes up to a little above my hip. He also thinks he’s a lapdog, which is comical at times.

His name is Wrigley. I got him my first year in Chicago for my rookie season, so I figured a Chicago name would work well. But when I would take him to the dog beach in Chicago, everyone else had a dog named Wrigley too.

When I’m practicing on the court, I always try to play mind games with myself. I’ll tell myself, “I’m going to miss this shot,” and then I force myself to push through that. Or I’ll say, “There’s no way you’re going to make 11 in a row.” Then I have to try to challenge myself to do it. When I’m on the court, everything is positive. I tell myself, “It’s going in.” So if I can train the opposite way, I’ll be even more prepared when it’s game time.

In high school, I made 81 free throws in a row. I remember when I missed, it was kind of like, “Thank god this is over!” Literally everybody in the gym was holding their breath every time I shot a free throw. I was just so relieved for it to finally be over.

My sister, Lizzie, has always been my biggest inspiration, even though she’s never spoken a word to me. She’s deaf and blind, and she has intellectual disabilities as well. She’s probably functioning at the level of a 1- to 2-year-old. Not only that, but she’s had over 30 surgeries in her life. She’s overcome every single thing that’s been thrown her way. So many times doctors said she wouldn’t be able to walk, or she wouldn’t live to this age, and she’s surpassed all of those expectations. She’s just amazing.

On my 20th birthday, I got a tattoo of my sister’s name inside of angel wings. I wanted to put it somewhere it’s not seen every day, but I know it’s there. And before every game I pat it, or if I need to channel my sister in any way throughout a game, I’ll pat my side.

Anything I endure in a day will never be able to compete with what she has to endure each day of her life.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/page/bodyelenadelledonne/chicago-sky-star-elena-delle-donne-talks-free-throws-endurance-dunking-espn-body-issue

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Zika, Delle Donne ‘Unwaivered’

Elena Delle Donne has seen pro athlete peers such as LeBron James and Jason Day withdraw from the Rio Olympics, but the Sky star said Friday that there’s no way she’s dropping out despite the risks associated with the Zika virus.

“For me, my mind still hasn’t wavered at all about Olympics. This is a dream come true to respresent the country and there’s no doubt I will be there,” Delle Donne said during a conference call.

The Team USA women’s basketball player has been especially vigilant about monitoring her health since she said she first developed symptoms of Lyme disease and was later diagnosed her sophomore year at the University of Delaware. The disease, transmitted through tick bites, can cause fatigue, headaches, joint pain and flu-like symptoms.

Some athletes, such as Day, cited concern about the Zika outbreak in Brazil as the primary reason for pulling out of the Olympics. The disease can be contracted through mosquito bites and can cause severe birth defects, as well as fever, joint pain and other symptoms.

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Delle Donne Designs Delivered!

Most everyone knows Delaware native Elena Delle Donne as a gifted basketball player.

Not so well-known? That when the WNBA Chicago Sky star is not playing ball, she exercises another passion: building furniture.

Delle Donne spends her spare time making impressive, intricately patterned coffee and dining room tables with friends Megan Gainey and Amanda Clifton.

Indeed, the future Olympian’s mad skills with a miter saw captured so much attention when she posted photographs of the homemade furniture on her social media accounts, Delle Donne and her friends decided to start their own business, DelleDonneDesigns.

Since then, customers have been, well, coming out of the woodwork. The customized handcrafted furniture, made in Chicago and Middletown, Delaware, can be ordered through Delle Donne’s website, elenadelledonne.com. Look underDelleDonneDesigns

“We might need to hire more people,” Delle Donne says. “We’ll see.”

Costs vary according to size and complexity of the table’s design, but prices can range from about $350 for an end table to about $1,250 for a dining room table. Shipping and handling is extra.

Customers are fans. “It’s basically people who follow me on social media and different friends and family,” Delle Donne says of the made-to-order tables that can require assembly. Instructions are included.

Delaware jeweler Carl Doubét, one of Delle Donne’s first customers, says he spotted a photo of the tables on her Twitter account. He was so impressed with the modern, elegant look, he ordered two tables for his 2900 Concord Pike store, Carl Doubét Jr. Jewelers.

“As soon as I saw the post, I said, ‘That’s it!’ I sent an email within five minutes,” says Doubét, who has been hunting for tables for his store for the past two years. “Before that, nothing grabbed me. I saw her photo, and it was perfect. The design captivated me first, and I thought the Delaware tie-in was fantastic.”

Doubét says he was surprised to learn that Delle Donne was making furniture.  “The relationship to the two, on the outside, seems like such a bizarre fit. But then, you think, ‘What a neat way for her to showcase another gift.’”

The tables, where Doubét’s customers can sit while they shop for engagement rings, were delivered to the Brandywine Hundred store earlier this month. Each is about 6 feet long and cost Doubét about $1,000 a piece.

Doubét says he doesn’t personally know Delle Donne, who graduated from Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy and the University of Delaware. The jeweler simply appreciates her talent for custom design. And he says he’s a supporter of any hometown hero.

“As a Delawarean, I like supporting other Delawareans,” Doubét says.

Delle Donne, 26, says she has long been a fan of do-it-yourself projects and TV shows.

“Ever since I was little, I loved to build various things. It’s kind of like a dream,” she says.

But her budding furniture-building side career started simply because she needed a dining room table.

Delle Donne says Megan Gainey, a college friend from UD, was already making “crazy, cool designs” out of wood. Together, they decided to turn her art into a table. Delle Donne posted the table on Instagram and Twitter, and the response was greater than she expected. Fans began asking where to purchase similar tables.

So, does Delle Donne really make the furniture? She laughingly says “yes” and knows it sounds a little far-fetched to hear that she is actually doing the sawing, staining and sanding. Yet, after basketball practice, she says she goes home and works on the furniture, usually with Wrigley, her 3-year-old Great Dane, by her side.

“Right now, [Amanda Clifton] and I do it in Chicago on my rooftop. My other friend [Megan] lives in Delaware and does all the East Coast orders.”

During the basketball off-season, Delle Donne says they will all be making the furniture in Delaware.

Delle Donne and her partners divvy up the work and tend to leave the wood cutting to Gainey and Clifton, especially during basketball season, which runs from May to late October.

“We try to keep [Delle Donne] away from the power tools,” Clifton told the Chicago Sun Times in a May interview.

So far, they’ve made 10 tables, and new orders are coming in every day. Delle Donne says they’ve just received an order for a headboard.

The symmetrical designs are made using a smartphone app. Patterns can range from Chervon (an inverted V shape) to herringbone. Then, the partners use different wood – some reclaimed, some purchased at home improvement stores. Each piece is stained, cut and sanded.

“It’s been a really fun, artistic process. It was kind of a hobby and a fun outlet away from basketball,” Delle Donne says. “It’s very involved, but we’ve gotten much better. It’s very time-consuming. Luckily, Megan and Amanda have a lot more time.”

Each table, from start to finish, takes about two weeks. The furniture is only sold online, but Delle Donne says she wouldn’t mind, in the future, possibly opening a store.

But not just yet. Her dance card is currently filled.

Delle Donne, who recently filmed a not-yet-aired Gatorade commercial at Ursuline Academy, is gracing the pages of ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue” and will be featured in the July issue of Glamour. And she is one of 12 players on the U.S. Olympics women’s basketball team going to the 2016 Rio Games, held in Brazil Aug. 5-21.

Delle Donne and the U.S. squad will be in Delaware on July 27. The team is playing an exhibition against France at Newark’s Bob Carpenter Center at 7:30 p.m.

Given Delle Donne’s current packed schedule, Doubét counts himself lucky to be one of her first furniture customers.

“It’s really amazing that in about month or so, she’s heading to the Olympics, but she still has time for tables,” he says.

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Delle Donne in ESPN ‘Body Issue’

NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and Red Stars’ Christen Press will be featured in ESPN The Magazine’s eighth annual “Body Issue.”

Other athletes photographed include Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade, NFL stars Antonio Brown and Vince Wilfork, UFC champion Conor McGregor, swimmer Nathan Adrian, beach volleyball Olympian April Ross, wrestler Adeline Grey, boxer Claressa Shields, and retired diver Greg Louganis. Duathlete Chris Mosier is the first transgender athlete to appear in the issue.

ESPN said Tuesday that the issue will be posted online July 6 and on newsstands July 8.

You can watch the promo video here.

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