Sky’s rocky relationship with refs continues
Chicago received four technicals in a heated game against the Mercury on Thursday
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AUGUST 6: Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky shoots the ball against the Phoenix Mercury on August 6, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chicago Sky head coach and general manager James Wade didn’t mince words following the Sky’s loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday.
“It was probably one of the poorest games I’ve ever seen called in my life,” Wade said in the post-game presser. “It was one of the poorest games. Anytime somebody can threaten your player and they get a double-tech, I just don’t understand it.”
Sky guard Allie Quigley received a technical foul along with Mercury guard Diana Taurasi early in the third quarter Thursday night.
Quigley said after the game that the dispute was in the heat of the moment and was “nothing really at all.”
Five technical fouls were called during the game, with four going against the Sky. Wade received his second technical of the game in the final two minutes and was ejected.
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“It’s been like this from the beginning of the season,” Wade said after Thursday’s game. “It’s been four times. I’m four-for-four where I ask the refs to look at something from the first half and they say, ‘Oh yeah, you were right.’ Now, everybody might think that I’m complaining or whatever, but this is real, like this is real. The respect is not there.”
Earlier in the week Wade pointed out the team’s low free throw rate, which was the lowest in the WNBA before Saturday’s game against the Connecticut Sun.
The Sky finished fifth in free throw rate last year, but were dead last through the first 15 games of the 2019 season. Chicago is currently tied for last in the league in free throw attempts and the Sky average the fourth-most personal fouls. Wade doesn’t expect the whistles to change for good and said the team just has to play through it.
“Like, they’re gonna keep on doing it,” Wade said Thursday. “It’s gonna keep on happening and I guess it’s a message to me. But it’s just the way it is, it’s just the way it is.”
Chicago guard Kahleah Copper emphasized the need for the Sky to deal with the calls and move past the officiating.
“I think we just have to be tougher,” Copper said after Thursday’s game. “I think that we gotta get to a point where we’re just playing basketball and not worrying about the refs. Because they’ve been terrible and it’s not looking any better, so I feel like we just gotta go out there and play and not look for any excuses and just stop complaining.”
During the game, the WNBA tweeted a video of Taurasi hitting a three and Courtney Vandersloot getting called for a foul on the play. Wade retweeted the video Thursday night and Sky center Stefanie Dolson, who didn’t play due to an ankle injury, responded to the video and called it the biggest flop she’d ever seen.
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During media availability on Friday, Wade said he sent in 46 video clips from the game to the league for review. Wade took similar action last year following a pair of heated matchups against the Las Vegas Aces.
“The clips I sent in last season, yeah, when Steph got ‘bowed in the head, I sent that in last year and they told me she was ‘bowed in the chest,” Wade said. “And so I stopped sending in clips after that.”
Wade said the reasoning behind sending more clips in, despite previous results, was to get justification for Thursday night’s game.
Things went better for the Sky at the foul line in Saturday’s win against the Connecticut Sun. Chicago shot 32 free throws to the Sun’s 21, 15 more free throws than the Sky’s previous season high and the fourth highest total in the WNBA this season.
“I feel like it was a fair game tonight,” Parker said after Saturdays win. “I think they called it as well as they could on both ends of the floor.”
Copper said after the game that Jantel Lavender, who is out for this season with a foot injury and not with the team, told her teammates they needed to be tougher after Thursday night’s game. Chicago seems to have taken that advice to heart and the team’s change in demeanor after foul calls was noticeable against the Sun.
Whether the Sky keep their cool in their upcoming rematch against the Mercury on Wednesday, August 12 remains to be seen.
“As soon as the game ended against Phoenix, the other day, we were all like, ‘We’re gonna see ‘em again,’” Parker said. “And it’s a wrap.”