The Sky entered the season expecting to vie for their first WNBA championship.
But after opening with two victories, they have lost seven in a row, their longest skid since dropping nine straight in 2012, when they finished 14-20.
The Sky’s struggles aren’t a matter of talent, even with Candace Parker (ankle) out. Their problem is execution. During the skid, the Sky have lost by more than 10 once. Two of their last four losses were in overtime.
When you look at their numbers on offense, the picture becomes clearer.
“It’s a struggle, for sure,” coach/general manager James Wade said.
Coming into the season, the team wanted to establish a defensive identity. Unfortunately for Wade’s squad, the offense crashed, going from first to worst in field-goal percentage.
The Sky shot 49.1% last season. They’re shooting 38.3% this season. Their 75.9 points per game is second-worst in the league, ahead of the Indiana Fever, who visit Wintrust Arena on Wednesday.
During practice Monday, Wade said the team focused on simplifying some of its sets to create more movement. The halfcourt offense has been stagnant because of too many variables.
In 2019, Diamond DeShields’ last complete season, she averaged 16.2 points (eighth in the league). This season, she’s averaging 13.2.
A key to DeShields tapping into her full potential is creating advantages with ball movement.
On the flip side, the Sky’s defense has kept them in games. The Sky are holding opponents to 78.1 points, third in the league. Their defensive rating of 93.1 is second-best behind the Los Angeles Sparks.
The problems have come after turnovers. The Sky have allowed 18.9 points per game off turnovers, the most in the league.
“If you cut our turnovers by 25%, that leaves us around 15 per game,” Wade said. “And if we’re shooting at a 40% clip, that’s five or six extra points we’re leaving on the board.”
The Sky had their first full practice in over a week, and the players said it was critical for creating confidence. The team still hasn’t had a full five-on-five practice since the season began.
Parker is continuing her rehab and was a limited participant in practice. Trainers will see how her left ankle responds to the activity before determining if she’ll make her home debut.
Assistant coach Tonya Edwards played for the 2001 Charlotte Sting team that started the season 1-10 and ended up in the finals. Her message to the Sky has been to stay committed to their goal.
With 23 games left in the regular season, the Sky don’t have much time to turn this around.
“Of course, we feel the pressure of having to get a win,” Allie Quigley said. “But it’s more pressure to execute plays, take care of the ball and play the game the right way. If we can focus on those things and [get] good energy, then the wins will come.”