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Courtney Vandersloot returns to Chicago as the Liberty visit Sky

2021 WNBA Finals - Phoenix Mercury v Chicago Sky Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Keep the line moving. The New York Liberty took a trip to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Storm. Seattle gave New York a great challenge, but the Liberty did just enough to come away with the win.

The opponent tonight is rebuilding after being on top of the mountain. The Chicago Sky are looking to stay competitive following a monumental offseason. They were on the road Tuesday night and lost to the Atlanta Dream, 83-65.

Where to follow the game

Ion TV is the place to be. Tip after 6:00 p.m.


All clear for the Liberty.

Isabelle Harrison is out after undergoing knee surgery. Ruthy Hebard is out on maternity leave. Rebekah Gardner underwent foot surgery on Thursday and is out indefinitely. Morgan Bertsch is out with an ankle injury. Kristine Anigwe will be leaving to go to Eurobasket and will be out about six to eight games.

The game

Tonight is the start of a home-and-home set. These teams dance again Sunday afternoon at the Clays.

We mentioned the Sky’s monumental offseason, and here’s all the players they lost:

  • Candace Parker
  • Courtney Vandersloot
  • Azura Stevens
  • Emma Meesseman
  • Allie Quigley

Eek. James Wade has a lot of work to do to keep the Sky in contention, so we’ll see how this new roster gels over time.

Chicago helped their cause by making a big trade in February. They acquired Marina Mabrey from the Dallas Wings in a four team trade. Mabrey

We’ll be seeing a friend of ours on the Sky. Thanks to the salary cap, the Liberty had to let Sika Kone go at the end of the camp. She signed on with the Sky and has impressed in her time on the court. During training camp, I asked Sandy Brondello about Kone and she said:

“She has a motor. She’s relentless. She’s still learning the game with some of the movements and what we want. She’s very coachable. And I mean, she just goes hard. There’s no coaching effort at all, but she’s getting out there and she just loves it. She has so much joy and that’s how it should be.”

Expand the rosters!

Jack Maloney of CBS Sports shared a really interesting stat a few days ago

The other big stars on the Liberty will get all the attention in the world, and that means Ionescu will get as many open shots as she can handle. She’s been playing off-ball a lot, and has adjusted to the change well thus far. Being able to cash in on threes, and extra deep ones at that, takes a great Liberty and makes them impossible.

Ultimately, the Liberty will go as far as Breanna Stewart carries them. Stewie took over in the second half of the game as she got going and kept her former team at bay. Stewart is second in the league in scoring at 25.8 points a night and has punished defenses from all over the court. With how shorthanded the Sky are, look for Stewart to put together another big time performance.

The Liberty are bringing Marine Johannes back slowly, and chances are she’ll be making her 2023 debut tonight. MJ gives the Liberty another ballhandler and someone that can run the offense. New York is currently fourth in the WNBA in three point shooting, and they’ll be inserting a 43.7 percent shooter from deep back into the rotation. It’s an exciting time for the Liberty, and we’ll be seeing one of the game’s most exciting players back in the seafoam tonight.

Player to watch: Kahleah Copper

What do you do when you’re the last star standing? It’s something Jewell Loyd has to answer in Seattle, and it’s something Copper has to face in Chicago. So far, Copper has adjusted to the new role and is averaging around 15 points and five rebounds a night on .364/.429/.786 shooting splits. One curious thing about her season so far is that she’s only shooting 37.5 percent inside the restricted area, a STEEP decline from her 61.5 percent inside that area last season. More attention is on Copper as she drives to the basket, and the looks this season are a lot more challenging

Betnijah Laney has taken the assignment of defending the opponent’s best perimeter player, and she’ll draw the matchup again. She’ll look to crowd Copper on the perimeter and if Coper gets by her, the Liberty bigs will be waiting at the rim. New York is starting to put a lot of things together, and Laney is central to that.

One more homecoming! Stewie dealt with all the emotions of returning to her former team on Tuesday, and tonight it’s Courtney Vandersloot’s turn. Slooty spent 12 seasons with the Sky, won a championship in 2021, and set all sorts of records along the way. Stewart dealt with all the emotions of a return on Tuesday, and it’ll be Vandersloot’s turn tonight. The rest of the Liberty players will look to provide support for Vandersloot in her return and try not to put too much pressure on their shoulders.

Another honor for Stewie

On Friday morning, Breanna Stewart added Player of the Month for May to her resume’.

For the month, Stewie averaged 25.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 steals while converting on 54.1% (33-of-61) from the field and 43.5% (10-of-23) from deep.

From the Vault

You know the vibes

More reading: Swish Appeal, Chicago Sun Times, The Strickland, The Local W, Just Women’s Sports, SI All Knicks, Winsidr, Her Hoop Stats and The Next