Coach James Wade doesn’t like to talk about expectations. But whatever they were, the Sky exceeded them in the first half.
The team entered the All-Star break on a high note after coming back from a 13-point deficit Sunday to beat the Fever 78-70 in front of a star-studded crowd at Wintrust Arena that included Anthony Davis, Dwyane Wade and sneaker designer Jerry Lorenzo.
Center Stefanie Dolson and guard
Allie Quigley each scored 19 points, and point guard Courtney Vandersloot had 14 assists.
The Sky (11-8) are riding a four-game winning streak for the second time this season. They’re also fifth in the overall WNBA standings and in position to make their first playoff appearance since 2016. It’s in stark contrast to last season, when they were 9-17 heading into the All-Star break.
Sky owner Michael Alter said he’s “extremely pleased” with Wade.
“I wouldn’t say he exceeded mine because I had high expectations for him going in,” Alter told the Sun-Times. “He’s doing a great job and so is the team, which is really buying in to what he’s doing.”
What has impressed Alter the most is how quickly Wade turned the Sky’s course and got his players to buy in.
Last season, the Sky led the league in turnovers and had one of the worst defenses in the WNBA. Opponents averaged 90.1 points against them in 2018.
Wade has addressed the Sky’s biggest problems. Turnovers still plague the Sky at times, but they’ve allowed 90 or more points in only three games.
Wade is pleased with how the Sky have improved in the last three months, but he’s still hungry.
“I’m not satisfied because you always want more,” Wade said. “That’s the one thing about being a coach, you always want to be greedy. . . . The realistic thing is, I think we can be 13-6 right now. But realistically, we could also be 9-10. I’m glad we’re not 9-10, but I also feel like we could be playing better. They just have to know that we’re a good team, and it’s getting that into their system that you’re a good team, but then having to own it.”
Quigley believes the Sky will continue to soar in the second half.
“We knew we had this in us the last two years; we felt we underachieved,” said Quigley, who is one of three Sky players who will compete in the All-Star Game on Saturday. “I don’t think it’s a big surprise. If anything, we feel like we can do so much better.”
But it won’t be an easy task.
The Sky play nine of their remaining 15 games on the road. They come out of the nine-day break with a trip to Connecticut to play the league-leading Sun on July 30.
How will the Sky sustain this momentum?
“Right now, they should be feeding off this and the confidence in how it is to come back and win close games,” Wade said. “Just think about all the good things and say, ‘OK, we can be an elite team; we just have to pay attention to certain details.’ And after we get back, we’ll be ready to go, but . . . let’s just take it day by day, and we’ll figure it out.”