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Sky to lean heavily on veteran Pondexter this season

Cappie Pondexter reacts to a play against the San Antonio Stars last season.(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

There was a time in Cappie Pondexter’s career when being the face of a franchise mattered.

But as the veteran Sky guard enters her 12th season and third with her hometown team, she no longer concerns herself with such things. Not when the former Marshall star and two-time Illinois Miss Basketball feels like the Sky has the potential to capture a title before she retires.

Pondexter is part of a core that no longer includes Elena Delle Donne. Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot are back, but Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and No. 2 overall pick Alaina Coates are new faces who also will be counted on to contribute.

But at the center of it all is Pondexter, who coach and general manager Amber Stocks said possesses a multi-layered leadership style.

Pondexter always has been the franchise’s vocal leader, even before Delle Donne was traded to the Washington Mystics. But now her role will expand.

Pondexter isn’t concerned about being the franchise’s focal point anymore.

“I don’t pay attention to that no more,” she said this week as the Sky opened training camp. “My objective is to win and that’s what I value more than [being] the face of the franchise.”

After averaging 12.9 points per game last year when she joined Delle Donne as the only players on the Sky to average double figures, Pondexter understands more will be expected of her.

“Cappie has crafted her unique ability to be creative with the ball,” Stocks said. “As a coach, I like the way she can move the ball, attack the lane, draw defenders and create opportunities for herself or an open teammate. On defense, the way she applies ball pressure and takes pride in her closeouts is great for us.

“Cappie’s energy and expertise fuels the team on both ends of the court.”

How Pondexter deals with her new teammates will take time. But so far she likes what she sees with her new-look team.

Now, it’s just a matter of putting everything together when the season begins on May 14 against the Minnesota Lynx.

“You could see the pieces over the last few years build and build,” Pondexter said. “I think right now with what we’ve added and having a new coach and bringing more momentum in and having new air, it’s going to push us to where we need to be.”

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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