Sky’s new identity under Teresa Weatherspoon will be on display in season opener against Wings

Fourth-year player Dana Evans is expected to be the Sky’s starting point guard this season.

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Fans of familiarity will have a hard time with the 2024 Sky.

Of course, guard Dana Evans is entering her fourth season with the franchise, and wing Diamond DeShields is back after stints with the Mercury and Wings.

But with a new coach and an almost entirely new roster, the Sky’s first order of business is to establish an identity.

“The most important thing is, once you talk about what might be good for the team, especially as a staff, you try and find that common ground of what it means to [the players],” coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “How does it fit them and make them the best versions of themselves every day?”

The Sky will get their first chance to answer that question when they open the regular season Wednesday night against the Wings.

The known commodities on this team start with Evans, whose role will increase. In Weatherspoon’s eyes, Evans can blossom into one of the best two-way guards in the league with the potential to be considered for defensive player of the year one day.

After spending her first three seasons coming off the bench, Evans is expected to start. She averaged 16 points and four assists in two preseason games.

Beyond Evans, the Sky have three returning players from the 2023 team: center Elizabeth Williams, guard Marina Mabrey and forward Isabelle Harrison.

Mabrey was the Sky’s second-leading scorer behind 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper, whom the team traded upon her request this offseason. Williams was named to the WNBA’s all-defensive second team after averaging 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks in her first season with the Sky. Harrison missed the season with a knee injury.

Harrison was not active during the period open to the media in the team’s final practice before the opener. Weatherspoon said the team is focused on getting her back to being healthy but did not elaborate on her status. She will miss the opener.

DeShields is the only player other than Evans with a thread to the Sky’s championship past. After sitting out last season with a knee injury, the Sky’s third overall pick in 2018 appears to be in Weatherspoon’s lineup after starting both of the preseason games.

Fans will have to wait for No. 3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso’s debut as she rehabs a shoulder injury that will keep her out up to six weeks. That means she could miss up to 13 games, putting her potential return in mid-June.

No. 7 overall pick Angel Reese, however, is ready to go. Based on Weatherspoon’s preseason lineup, she likely will be in the starting five.

“Being a new team, with a new coaching staff, I think we’re going to come together and surprise a lot of people,” Reese said.

When Weatherspoon and general manager Jeff Pagliocca finalized their 12-player roster, Chennedy Carter and Kysre Gondrezick — both originally signed to training-camp contracts — were named to it. They were the fourth overall picks in the 2020 and 2021 WNBA Drafts, respectively.

After averaging 17.4 points and 3.4 assists for the Dream in her rookie season, Carter’s career hit a snag following an elbow injury and a suspension for conduct “deemed detrimental to the team” that ended her time in Atlanta. In 2022, she played 22 games for the Sparks before being waived in 2023. Carter played in China and Turkey last year.

Gondrezick, meanwhile, played just 19 games for the Fever in her rookie season. The team waived her in 2022.

“The one thing I tell all of them is, we all cannot become complacent,” Weatherspoon said. “You have to sustain this. You can’t just be OK now, you have to want more. When you walked into camp, you were hungry. You have to remain [hungry].”

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No. 7 overall pick Angel Reese is a projected starter Wednesday night.
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Games will be shown locally on WCIU-TV, WMEU-TV and Marquee Sports Network.
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