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Sky Mon May 27 2013

Comparing Chicago Sky Players to Chicago Neighborhoods

chicago sky logo.gifThere's no need to wait for next year to get your basketball fix; there's another underdog-team in this city with championship aspiration perhaps even more legitimate than those of the Chicago Bulls, it's the Chicago Sky. The Sky have never had a winning record in their seven years of existence (let alone a playoff appearance), but with the addition of rookie scoring machine Elena Delle Donne, the Sky could become Eastern Conference champions overnight (although returning champions, the Indiana Fever, might have something to say about that). They've just singed a new five-year television deal, and have earned two nationally televised games on ESPN2, including today's season opener against the Phoenix Mercury. The Sky and the All-State Arena will abuzz all Summer long (you can take the Blue Line to the Rosemont stop and hop on the Pace Bus Route 222 to any home game).

Back in December I compared each Bulls player to a Chicago neighborhood. To help introduce a lot of Chicago sports fans unfamiliar with Chicago's professional woman's basketball team, I'm going compare the ladies of the Sky to neighborhoods in this city.

Swin Cash = Bucktown
Go ahead, think of this savvy veteran as too old. Sure she's not as electric and as young as Wicker Park as she once was, but she can still hang. Age is just a number, and this 33-year-old can still put up numbers on any given night (10 points, five rebounds a game averages in 2012). Bucktown is filled with urban professionals who enjoy eating inspired but unpretentious food and will still go out drinking on a Tuesday night out, Cash's play is no different -- inspired, unpretentious, and getting it done even at her age.

Elena Delle Donne = East LakeviewElena Delle Donne = East Lakeview
She's young. Chock full of disposable income. And probably says "crushing it" a lot, because that's just what she does. Delle Donne, the second overall pick in this year's draft, is tough, the best scoring option for an points-starved bunch (only three players averaged double-digits last season), and has instantaneously become the face of the franchise. She's got a bright future, and a lake's worth of superstar potential, hence East Lakeview.

Courtney Vandersloot = Avondale
After an earning an All-Star appearance, and a spot on the 2011 WNBA All Rookie team, Vandersloot has improved in all statistical categories (except free throw percentage) last year and looks to stay on the same trajectory. Avondale keeps getting better, and this year shouldn't be any different with the additions. Trendy food spots, craft beer bottle joints and hipsters moving in affordable housing makes Avondale and Vandersloot up-and-comers that are here to stay.

Sylvia Fowles = River North
The two-time WNBA All Star and Olympic gold medalist, was last years most efficient player and the MVP of the Sky. She personifies River North. She's accomplished, as tall as the high-rise condos (6'6"), and should be the center of attention in this town.

Epiphanny Prince = Ukrainian Village
Ms. Prince, a recent All-Star in 2011 (there was no WNBA All Star Game in 2012 due to the London Olympics) and the WNBA's fourth leading scorer (18 points per game) last year, will be leaving the Sky in June for a few weeks to play for the Russian National team. As with most of Ukrainian Village residents she is American born, but has ties to an Eastern European nation. She's a naturalized citizen of mother Russia, and like anyone who's visited Ukie Village for the first time, you're taken aback by the neighborhood's mix of beautiful buildings and lush night life. It's truly an epiphany.

Allie Quigley = DePaul
Where else do DePaul grads live after graduating from DePaul?

Tamera Young = Printers Row
Never judge a book by its cover. It's hard to get a read on Young at first glance; to the uninformed eye, she's just a roster filler, non-difference maker, who gives a rest to the Sky's star-filled starting lineup. She's much more than that; she does her part by giving you eight points a game off the bench, she's gritty on the defensive end, and is the team's intangibles leader. Think of her as the Sky's version of Taj Gibson.

Carolyn Swords = Uptown
Swords' strength is rebounds. You'll need to rebound after a night in unpredictable Uptown.

Eshaya Murphy = North Center
Murphy will be filling in for the aforementioned Prince. Murphy, though only scoring nine points a game last year, shot a career high 44% from three. North Center is not quite as popular as its neighbors Lincoln Square or Roscoe Village, but it definitely will do in a pinch and hold it's own, like Murphy definitely will do.

Sharnee Zoll = Devon Avenue in West Ridge
The sneaky-good backup point guard, has played all over globe. Born in Philadelphia, raised in German, has played in Romania, Turkey, Poland, among other places. Zoll's life pit-stops mirrors Devon Avenue, the Epcot Center of this city.

Michelle Campbell = Wrigleyville
Congrats to Campbell, she's a 29-year-old rookie finally made it to WNBA. She was the Euroleague's top offensive rebounder last year, and will contribute off the bench. So, why Wrigleyville? Well, she's new to this town, and like all transplants she'll assume this is the place to be. Here's to her making it to our big city, but let's hope with continued self-improvement and after a year of seasoning she'll graduate to Rush and Division (the "adult" Wrigleyville).

Like Chicago, the Sky is filled with a diverse roster of stars, hard working role players, and underdogs. The team is this city.

MichaelC / May 28, 2013 5:27 PM

Nice piece of work about a team that needs much more love in this town. Elena Delle Donne is the final piece to the Sky Championship puzzle. I have been waiting for this ever since coach Chatman came on board. If they can keep everyone healthy this will be a very interesting summer!

Donny Rodriguez / May 28, 2013 6:07 PM

Thanks Michael C. Delle Donne is dangerous in the paint, she gets defenders in the air on ball fakes almost always, and her sweet jumper stretches the floor which creates easy offense for her teammates. The Sky's starting line-up is scary good and fun to watch. Pokey can guide this team deep into the playoffs. The Sky is undercovered in this town, but passionate fans like you and the team will change that this year! Thanks for the read.

Inky Normal / May 30, 2013 1:58 PM

You couldn't have at least mentioned a token neighborhood outside of the northside?

Ironically the best basketball players in the city hail from the south and west sides- 75% of the city that is regularly ignored by the media unless there is a murder.

Donny Rodriguez / May 30, 2013 3:06 PM

I agree with you Inky on the city's best players being from the south and west sides. In my Bulls comparison to neighborhoods piece (linked in the intro) I mentioned 3 south side communities. I was born and raised on the north side so there was no intentional disrespect to those south of Madison, I'm just more familiar with the north. Appreciate you keeping Gapers sports section honest.

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