Sky suffer first loss since former coach/GM James Wade’s resignation

“Everything is just moving on, and everything is going well,’’ interim coach/GM Emre Vatansever said. ‘‘I think it’s just a game that we lost. We didn’t do the things that we should do.”

SHARE Sky suffer first loss since former coach/GM James Wade’s resignation
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The Sky’s previous game at Wintrust Arena was their last under former coach/general manager James Wade. They secured a victory, and he promptly resigned the next morning to join the Raptors as an assistant coach.

On Friday, the Sky lost their first game without Wade 82-68 to the Dream.

‘‘Everybody has moved on,’’ interim coach/GM Emre Vatansever said. ‘‘Everything is just moving on, and everything is going well. I think it’s just a game that we lost. We didn’t do the things we should do.’’

Many players had no idea June 30 would be their last day playing for Wade, but he did.

‘‘I had an idea,’’ Wade told the Sun-Times.

Kahleah Copper had knowledge of Wade’s departure in advance of his announcement to the team last Saturday. She had a private conversation with him before he addressed the team but didn’t share when it occurred.

Instead of telling his entire team in advance, Wade opted to inform his players he was resigning the morning of his exit. Six days later, his players were trying to focus on the season and how to be successful under Vatansever.

Regardless of Vatansever’s message that the team is moving on, however, players still are navigating feelings about the new reality without Wade.

‘‘I was really shocked,’’ Dana Evans said earlier in the week. ‘‘It really caught me off-guard. That’s the coach I’ve had, really, since I came into the WNBA. Obviously, he was really hard on me, but I knew why because he saw potential in me. I’m going to actually miss him yelling at me.’’

Copper led the Sky with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Marina Mabrey added 14 points, and Elizabeth Williams had 11 points and five rebounds. Evans finished with eight points and two steals.

The Sky went into the fourth quarter trailing by only one, but that deficit had grown to 15 — the Dream’s largest lead of the night — with five minutes left.

‘‘It’s a combination of a couple of things,’’ Vatansever said. ‘‘We started turning the ball over. It’s not just helping them convert the score, [but] the team mentally goes down.’’

Turnovers had been a point of emphasis for Vatansever all week in practice. The Sky are 10th among 12 teams in the league with 15.1 turnovers per game and ninth in points given up off turnovers at 16.8. Against the Dream, they gave up 18 points off 15 turnovers.

Former Sky star Cheyenne Parker earned her first All-Star nod this season as a reserve. In her third season with the Dream, Parker is averaging a career-high 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds. She was drafted by the Sky with the fifth overall pick in 2015 and played six seasons for the franchise before signing with the Dream as an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Wade’s move to sign Candace Parker in 2021 left no room under the strict salary cap for Cheyenne Parker on his championship roster. On Friday, she had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

‘‘She’s one of the best post players in the league right now, one of the elite ones,’’ Vatansever said. ‘‘She’s relentless on the offensive boards. She’s doing an amazing job. We’re proud of her.’’

The Sky have two games left before the All-Star break, a second consecutive home game Sunday against the Dream and a home game Wednesday against the Sun.

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