Eight games into the WNBA season, sitting at 7-1, the Chicago Sky looked like a team on a mission. All-Star guard Epiphanny Prince was on a tear, leading the Sky in scoring for five straight games, notching 30-plus points in three straight and earning back-to-back Eastern Conference Player of the Week titles.
"I was playing with so much confidence," Prince said. "I didn't feel like anyone could stop me. I wasn't second-guessing any shots; I was playing within the offense. My teammates were able to get me open looks, they were setting great screens for me and I was just able to knock down shots."
Prince's hot start was abruptly interrupted on June 16 when she went down with a fractured foot early in a road game against Indiana. The Sky went on to lose that game and have lost two more since. They play host to the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night.
Out for 6 to 8 weeks, Prince is doing her best to stay involved.
"There's not much I can do physically because I can't help them at practice or playing with them," she said. "So [I'm] just cheering 'em on and telling them things that I see going on in the game."
While Prince heals, the Sky will count on the leadership of newly added veterans Ticha Penicheiro, a four-time WNBA All-Star, and four-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP Swin Cash.
"When we're in tough situations, Swin is always there to talk to us," said Prince. "If things aren't going good, if we're not doing something, [Cash and Penicheiro] get on us. Sometimes we need to hear that kind of stuff, it motivates us to do what we need to do."
In recent seasons the Sky have faltered in the fourth quarters of tight games, but this year they've managed to stay focused and gut out some pretty tough wins.
"Games that we were down, those were the games we lost last year," Prince said. "But I feel like veteran leadership has helped us get over that hump and win those games."
Despite losing three in a row, Chicago is still in the thick of things in the East, trailing the conference-leading Connecticut Sun by a game and a half. Prince is expected to be back after the Olympic break, just in time to try to help lead her team to their first postseason berth.
"[Making the playoffs] would mean everything to me," she said. "It's something that was my goal coming in since I was a rookie in 2010. It would mean everything to the team as well, because this is what we work for."