The Chicago Sky is hosting the Dallas Wings Thursday at 7 p.m. to kick off the first round of the WNBA’s playoffs. The matchup will be a single-game elimination.
The two teams have met each other three times during the regular season, with the Wings taking two of those games.
Maria Williamson, head coach for the University of Chicago’s women’s basketball team is predicting it to be a high scoring game.
“Really high expectations for the Sky more than anything,” Williamson said. “The Sky’s offense is already one of the best in the league, but hopefully their experience will pull through against the pretty inexperienced Dallas Wings team.”
The Sky is ranked sixth in the league, with a .500 record going 16 - 16, while the Wing’s trail right behind in seventh, with a 14 - 18 record.
Kate Achter, head coach for Loyola University Chicago’s women’s basketball team, believes Dallas will present some challenges.
“Arike [Ogunbowale] is really good and a big time, big game player,” Achter said. “‘While the Sky will have their hands full, I’m with Maria, I think their experience is really going to pay off for them tomorrow.”
While some would rather see WNBA playoff games in a series format, others think the single game elimination creates excitement and adds pressure.
“As a basketball fan, you want more basketball, and as a coach you want to give your team the best opportunity to succeed,” Achter said. “But from a competitive standpoint, it makes the playoffs interesting. There’s a whole lot more riding on one game.”
Candace Parker, on the WNBA’s list of the 25 greatest and most influential players in the league, made the switch over to the Chicago Sky earlier this year, while elevating their base from multiple perspectives.
“Her brand is so extensive, and she’s one of the best players of all time,” Williamson said. “Selfishly it’s been great to have her here ... It’s our big-time player we’ve been looking for for a long time so hopefully she can stay healthy through the playoff run.”
Overall, Williamson and Achter have been seeing a rise in women’s basketball attendance and attention to games, both at the collegiate and professional levels.
“Women’s basketball is a high-quality product,” Achter said. “They’re skilled, they’re great role models. People want to see it, it’s evident by how many people are now coming out to Sky games ... Attendance across the country is up for all WNBA teams, and I’m excited to see what it will be like in the fall for college.”
Contact Acacia Hernandez: (773) 509-5518 | [email protected]