Sky get refocused with one game to go before Olympic break

In the last 10 games the Sky are 8-2 and second in the league in offensive rating (107.0), scoring average (87.5 ppg) and field goal percentage (46.8).

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The Sky’s Kahleah Cooper drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings on July 2.

The Sky’s Kahleah Cooper drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings on July 2.

NBAE via Getty Images

Over the last few days, practice for the Sky has been the most competitive it's been all season.

The team is finishing out a week that separated them from their 100-91 loss to the Dallas Wings and their final game of the first half of the season against the Washington Mystics Saturday at 7 p.m. at Wintrust Arena. Without the immediate turnaround of another game to prepare for, the focus this week was on refocusing.

“This is the most we’ve been able to compete in a three-day span,” Sky coach and general manager James Wade said. “Everything has been about competition and getting tougher defensively.”

First time WNBA All-Star Kahleah Copper said they’ve been making jokes about this week being a glimpse at what practice will be like during the month-long Olympic break.

There’s been no shortage of getting up and down the court.

The Sky carry a 10-9 record heading into Saturday’s game. Wade laughed when asked what the first half of the season says about his team.

“We’re consistent,” Wade joked.

Over the last 10 games, the Sky have looked more like the team they were expected to be. It of course came after starting the season 2-7, playing with a roster weakened by injury and multiple players' national team commitments.

Through that tough stretch there was no loss in confidence that once this team was whole, special things would happen.

In the last 10 games the Sky are 8-2 and second in the league in offensive rating (107.0), scoring average (87.5 ppg) and field goal percentage (46.8). Their overall defensive rating is second in the league (95.5), but in the last 10 games that rating drops to fourth.

Consequently, they’ve refocused their defense-first mentality.

“We can have all the schemes in the world but defensively we need to talk out there,” Copper said. “The games we were successful we were communicating, switching and doing whatever we need to do to get a stop.”

Copper described the first 19 games of the season as a learning half. The Sky experienced the low of the seven-game losing streak. They also felt the high of setting a franchise-best seven-game win streak. All of it reminded Copper to keep the same energy no matter the blessings or adversities present.

The team will have some time off following their game against Washington to support Copper, Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot at the All-Star game in Las Vegas. It was announced Wednesday afternoon that Parker was also nominated for the ESPYs Best WNBA Player award.

Wade said he’s still planning the exact amount of time off he’ll give his team, but expects it to be a couple of weeks. He said a lot of teams in the league will stick to a similar schedule.

Wade wants to give his team time to tap into other passions so they can come back feeling refreshed. Once they return there will be a sharpened focus on the playoffs and the team’s ultimate goal of winning the Sky’s first-ever WNBA Championship.

“Once we get back everybody’s mindset is going to shift a little bit,” Copper said. “Everything is going to get a little sharper. We’re thinking about the playoffs and winning a championship.”

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