Developing cohesion is top priority for Sky in final preseason game, the league’s first in Toronto

The team’s chemistry is still a work in progress, but Sky veteran wing and certified alpha Kahleah Copper is leading the bonding efforts.

SHARE Developing cohesion is top priority for Sky in final preseason game, the league’s first in Toronto
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Chicago Sky head coach James Wade gestures toward a referee during the second half of Game 5 in a WNBA basketball playoff semifinal against the Connecticut Sun Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, in Chicago. The Sun won 72-63. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA120

Charles Rex Arbogast, AP Photos

Sky coach and general manager James Wade doesn’t feel any added pressure as the team prepares to take part in the WNBA’s first game in Canada on Saturday.

He’s looking at the preseason visit to Toronto as an opportunity for his new-look team to continue developing cohesion — and as a chance to connect with rapper Drake, the Raptors’ global ambassador.

“Might stop by Drake’s house,” Wade joked during media day Wednesday. “His dad is from Memphis, where I’m from. Pretty cool. That’s what I’ll do when I knock on his door: ‘I’m from Memphis, too.’ ”

Kidding aside, Wade emphasized the responsibility the Sky have, not only as one of the first two teams featured in the WNBA Canada Game, but as one of 12 teams in what he considers the world’s premier women’s league.

“Every time we step on the floor, players have to appreciate that,” he said.

The Sky will face the Lynx at Scotiabank Arena at 3 p.m. in both teams’ final preseason game before opening the regular season against each other next Friday in Minnesota. They’ll be playing in front of a sold-out crowd — evidence of an appetite for WNBA action if the league were to expand its footprint. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has repeatedly changed her stance on league expansion, but her latest update included a goal of “adding at least two teams over the next few years and maybe, longer-term, four.”

In the meantime, the Sky are far from being finalized. Guard Marina Mabrey was uncertain whether she’d play Saturday, having arrived to camp late after wrapping up her season with Famila Schio in Italy. She had yet to practice with the team before it left Thursday for Toronto.

New frontcourt additions Elizabeth Williams and Isabelle Harrison were both absent from media day. Williams remains in concussion protocol, while Harrison’s absence was unrelated to an injury, Wade said. He didn’t comment on when either player would return, but Williams traveled with the team to Toronto.

Forward Morgan Bertsch has separated herself as one of the players in camp who likely will make the final 11- to 12-player roster. Considering the lack of depth in the frontcourt as center Li Yueru recovers from an undisclosed lower-extremity injury, forward Kristine Anigwe also could make the opening-night roster.

Guard Angel Baker was the first player cut more than a week into camp.

“We have some talented players on our roster,” Wade said. “It’s going to come down to some hard decisions, but that’s how it is.”

The Sky’s chemistry is still a work in progress, with veteran wing Kahleah Copper leading the bonding efforts. Although the experience this weekend is an opportunity to take a step forward, she knows the Sky won’t see any real progress until they’re consistently on the court together.

“We have to get through at least the first part of the season to really get to know each other, read each other on the court,” Copper said. “That’s just something that has to grow.”

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