Dana Evans was a highlight of the Sky’s season opener
Evans opened the season with a career-high 24 points, scoring 17 of them on 7-for-8 shooting in the third quarter of Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
Sky coach/GM James Wade has said that this year will be about progression.
With 35 games remaining, there’s no concern over the season-opening overtime loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sky are still without two starters.
Beyond the controversial foul call in the fourth quarter and the 25 turnovers, there were positive takeaways from opening night.
They start with Dana Evans.
“We heard a lot of questions about Dana’s abilities when we got Julie [Allemand],” Wade said Friday night. “People kind of counted her out. Dana is a really good player, and she has a chip on her shoulder.”
On Friday, Evans was tapped to make her first WNBA start, and she kept her focus on going into the game relaxed. After shootaround that morning, she went home to rest and binged on some of her favorite television shows. Her intention was to keep her mind off basketball to prevent any overthinking.
Her plan worked. Evans made it a career night, finishing with a career-high 24 points, 17 of them in the third quarter on 7-for-8 shooting.
Her defense was another highlight. She picked up the Sparks’ guards the length of the court and had four steals. The expectation is that Evans will come off the bench when Allie Quigley and Kahleah Copper return to the starting rotation.
Quigley said she expects to be available by Game 3, and Copper is finishing up her overseas commitments and will be with the team by next Tuesday.
In the meantime, though, the reliable Evans has impressed. Friday night provided a glimpse of the depth on the Sky’s roster.
“We all understand our roles and what we can do well,” Evans said. “For this team, everyone is so talented. You get in where you fit in.”
The Sky’s turnovers were the most notable issue of the opener, but many came off of misreads, including an inbounds play with six seconds left and a three-point lead. The turnover ultimately led to Jordin Canada’s three made free throws, sending the game to overtime.
Those will be cleaned up as the team develops more chemistry. The Sky saw two significant departures in free agency when Stefanie Dolson signed with the New York Liberty, and Diamond DeShields was moved in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Mercury. While the addition of 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman is an upgrade, there were moments in Friday that showed the team is still finding synergy.
Wade waived Kaela Davis, who signed a replacement contract in the absence of Rebekah Gardner.
On Monday afternoon, Gardner participated in her first practice and looked good in the sets she ran with the starters. She was the last player left shooting after practice ended.
Copper, Allemand and Li Yueru are the only remaining players absent from the Sky’s roster. Allemand is expected to arrive at the latest by the first week of June. Wade said Li has a visa appointment on Tuesday, and he expects her to be with the team soon.