Sky need bench to step up for postseason push

In the Sky’s 12 victories, the bench averaged 20 points while shooting 43.7% and 44% on threes. In their 16 losses, it averaged 17 points, shooting 36% and 27.5% on threes.

SHARE Sky need bench to step up for postseason push

NEW YORK — The Sky’s bench is having a career-defining year.

Dana Evans is playing a more significant role than she did in her first two seasons behind former Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot. Back from maternity leave, Ruthy Hebard is providing size inside playing behind Elizabeth Williams and Alanna Smith. The rest of the reserves — Robyn Parks, Morgan Bertsch and Taylor Soule — are rookies, but their experience level is quite different.

Parks and Bertsch are seasoned veterans overseas, not unlike Rebekah Gardner when she arrived in the WNBA for her rookie -season after playing 10 years overseas.

While all of them are having impactful seasons compared with their previous experience in the WNBA, the Sky need more from them to secure a playoff spot in the final 13 games of the season.

“What do they gotta do?” Kahleah Copper asked in response to a question about the bench’s performance in the loss to the Lynx on Tuesday. “Score, right?”

It wasn’t a question for Copper necessarily, but her frustration produced the clearest answer. The Sky need more production from their reserves if they’re going to close out tight games such as the one Tuesday.

There hasn’t been much consistency with interim coach/general manager Emre Vatansever’s rotations. After a week-and-a-half absence from Sika Kone, who was competing in FIBA AfroBasket, Vatansever will have to work her back into the mix.

On Tuesday, he went eight deep, leaving Kone and Soule with DNPs. Meanwhile, Evans, Parks and Bertsch combined for 12 points.

In the Sky’s 12 victories, the bench averaged 20 points while shooting 43.7% and 44% on threes. In their 16 losses, it averaged 17 points, shooting 36% and 27.5% on threes.

“For me, it’s just about seeing how the game is flowing, what we need and what I need to do,” Evans said ahead of the Sky’s 104-89 victory over the Wings last week. “That’s what’s going through my mind in the first five minutes of the game. I’m trying to figure out what they’re doing to Courtney, what they’re doing to our point guard and then see and get a feel.

“For me, I know I need to always bring energy, defense. Those two things are things I always have to be ready to do.”

Evans has doubled her production from last year. She has averaged 8.4 points and three assists, playing 21.6 minutes.

Since the All-Star break, Parks has been an entirely different player. She averaged 2.3 points in the first half of the season. Through eight games in the second half, she has averaged 6.8 points and 2.1 rebounds.

Her efficiency at the three-point line has been the most impressive. She has shot 58.3% from behind the arc, helping space the floor by forcing defenders to contest her from deep.

“I’m way more confident,” Parks said before the victory over the Wings. “My teammates have helped give me confidence, too, because I feel like they’re trusting in me more.”

Against the second-place Liberty on Friday, the Sky will need to see the bench produce as it did during a three-game winning streak in which the team eclipsed 100 points in each game. The bench shot 42.6% and 56.5% on threes.

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