How the Chicago Sky made a statement to the league ahead of their home opener

The start of the 2024 WNBA season was going to tell us plenty about the Chicago Sky.

So far, the team that everyone deemed a lower-tier team in the league has proven otherwise.

Coming off a 90-81 road win over the New York Liberty, the Sky aren't just telling us who they are.

They sent a statement.

"It builds a lot of confidence playing against a team like New York," Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said.

The Chicago Sky made their statement on Thursday evening behind 21 points from Marina Mabrey and five total players in double figures. They knocked the 4-0 New York Liberty from the ranks of the unbeaten in the WNBA, handing one of the most talented teams in the league a loss.

It was a pretty notable upset, not just because of the talent the Liberty have, but because of the Sky's status.

This team was pieced together this past offseason and is yet to play at full strength. Chicago was missing Diamond DeShields and rookie Kamilla Cardoso last night.

Add in the less-than-stellar preseason projections, and the Sky weren't supposed to win Thursday night. They did anyway, proving plenty wrong.

"We don't really care what anyone says honestly," Mabrey said. "It's really about our locker room or what's in there and what we believe. So, just staying consistent and staying confident in what we're doing will result in more wins than maybe people think that there will be."

It was fair to assume the Sky would struggle with a new roster, a star rookie that started the season injured and a first-year head coach. Instead, the Sky decided they wouldn't follow anyone else's timeline.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 15: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings at the College Park Center on May 15, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and o

A big part are the veterans stepping up. Dana Evans and Marina Mabrey are playing at a high level on the offensive end. Chennedy Carter is finding her spot as the Sky's sixth woman. Elizabeth Williams is a stalwart defensive presence.

Another part is one of the Sky's star rookies living up to her high expectations.

Reese is averaging 12 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists through three games. She is only the third WNBA player in history to have 15 or more offensive rebounds after three games. Natilie Williams and Yolanda Griffith were the other two.

The veterans and the rookies are coming together quickly. That's a testament to the coaches allowing players to be themselves while also making sure they stay on track. 

Head coach Teresa Weatherspoon is giving the Sky to celebrate early on in her tenure, but she also has the players focused.

"It's just a confidence builder, if anything," Mabrey said. "Also, this league is so tough. We're going to turn around and play Connecticut, so we can appreciate this tonight and try to build off this, but then tomorrow hits and we got to focus on Connecticut because they're coming too."

Weatherspoon showed the team how to keep focused. Weatherspoon, a Liberty legend, coached her first game against the franchise where she starred as a player.

Weatherspoon didn't let the emotions of the day get to her.

She felt them, but it didn't stop her from getting the job of the day done.

"The moment I walked out, it's the energy for me," Weatherspoon said. "I know those fans in there. I know them. I know a lot of faces. There was a connection and to see Jersey No. 11 being worn and signs held up, it sent me back to my first time walking on that floor and playing in front of this amazing crowd. Just a lot of love that we have for each other and I would lead by saying how much I love them and appreciate them and nothing will ever change that. Nothing." 

If they Sky can keep their focus at home against a WNBA contender now, it makes you wonder where the ceiling is this season for a team that's putting it all together on the fly.

Luckily, the Sky gets to head home next.

Next is the Sky's home opener against the Connecticut Sun, another contending team with MVP-caliber players.

"We got the best fans in the W, honestly," Evans said. "Hope to see you guys there."


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