The Sky didn’t have all the answers after their disappointing 88-83 loss to the injury-riddled Wings on Thursday.
What went wrong? Why wasn’t the effort there?
The Sky wish they could find the words, but the embarrassing loss to a team that was down to only eight players was inexcusable.
But rather than pointing fingers at each other, the team’s leaders — coach James Wade and point guard Courtney Vandersloot — turned to themselves.
“It might’ve been the game plan,” Wade said after the loss. “Game plan was probably bad.”
Vandersloot assured him that wasn’t the case. But then she wondered if perhaps she could’ve given more effort.
“That’s not it, we didn’t execute the game plan well obviously,” said Vandersloot, who scored a team-high 19 points and had seven assists and two rebounds. “We didn’t bring it tonight, and this is a huge lesson for us.
“It doesn’t matter what the other team is, you have to bring it every single night and we didn’t. And it starts from me. And I have to be better, especially down the stretch, this one hurts.”
Regardless of whose fault it was, the Sky can’t allow another slip up — like Thursday’s game — if they want to make a deep postseason run.
Entering Thursday’s game at Wintrust Arena, the Wings, who were recently eliminated from the playoffs, were averaging a league-low 71.3 points per game. However, they ran all over the Sky’s defense and had four players score 10 or more points.
“Team that scores 70 points a game had 88 points,” Wade said. “We never made them uncomfortable. They beat us.”
Vandersloot, the Sky’s floor general, had another dominant performance on offense. But she struggled to defend guard Arike Ogunbowale, a leading candidate for the league’s rookie of the year award, who scored 35 points.
“She was comfortable,” Vandersloot said of Ogunbowale. “She’s been on a role, she makes tough shots and she plays free. She’s got the ultimate green light and today she made a lot.”
Overall, Wade said the Sky lacked effort, and center Stefanie Dolson agreed.
“I do think we all could’ve put more effort in,” said Dolson, who recorded her first double-double this season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. “But I think we need everyone. We need all 12 of us to play as hard as we possibly can every possession.”
The Sky had 13 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Wings only had six. The Wings also outrebounded the Sky 35-31.
The only positive the Sky can take from this game is that it’s over and they won’t have to play the Wings again this season. The Sky (18-13) — who are in the midst of their third winningest season in franchise history and are playoff bound for the first time since 2016 — have three games remaining in the regular season to get their act together before the postseason.
“This one hurts a lot,” Dolson said. “But we still have games to play and we still do have playoffs. We have a lot of hard games left but they’re games we can win and we know we can win and we have to believe that.”