Emma Meesseman takes reigning champion Sky to a ‘whole other level’

As Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Azura Stevens watched Monday’s game from the bench, Meesseman took the floor as the most veteran player in the Sky’s starting five and handled the role well.

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The Sky’s Emma Meeseman takes a shot during Monday’s preseason game against the Dallas Wings at Wintrust Arena.

The Sky’s Emma Meeseman takes a shot during Monday’s preseason game against the Dallas Wings at Wintrust Arena.

NBAE via Getty Images

Emma Meesseman was 19 when the Mystics selected her in the second round of the 2013 draft. She had a lot to grow into, including her role as a leader.

Meesseman describes herself as an introvert, but in the Sky’s 92-77 loss to the Wings in their preseason opener Monday, Meesseman was vocal with her young teammates from start to finish.

The Sky’s starting five was unrecognizable compared to last year’s lineup. As Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Azura Stevens watched from the bench, Meesseman took the floor as the Sky’s most veteran starter and handled the role well.

“Sloot is louder,” Meesseman said. “She leads for the whole team. My way of leading is a little quieter, more face-to-face. If I have to speak up, I’ll do it, but it’s something I’ve had to learn over the last few years.”

Meesseman credits the Belgian national team with expediting her abilities as a leader.

After Stefanie Dolson signed with the Liberty this offseason, rumors began to swirl about how Sky coach/general manager James Wade would fill her role off the bench. Dolson came up big in the Finals against the Mercury, particularly in the clinching Game 4.

Her departure was met with concern from fans, but when Wade signed Meesseman, talk of the Sky being the league’s super team began. Without any of their regular starters Monday, it was evident how much Meesseman strengthens the already-talented roster.

“Adding [Meesseman] takes us to a whole other level,” Vandersloot said. “She can fit anywhere she goes. Of course, there’s going to be a learning curve figuring out how she fits with Candace [Parker], [Stevens] and Kahleah [Copper]. We have our core back, and now we’re adding this super piece to it. I expect us to play good basketball this year.”

Parker and Copper aren’t in Chicago yet. Parker is expected to arrive this week and Copper in mid-May because of overseas commitments.

Meesseman’s goal Monday was to get acclimated to a new system and find her spots. She accomplished that, finishing with 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Wade has 14 players on training-camp contracts, and he’ll need to waive 12 of them before the season starts. Kathleen Doyle is one who impressed in the game. What the Sky need out of their 10th and 11th spots are players with high basketball IQs who can maintain the team’s quality of play when the starters are on the bench. Doyle looked like one of those players.

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