Emma Meesseman takes reigning champion Sky to a 'whole other level'

Emma Meesseman takes reigning champion Sky to a ‘whole other level’

Emma Meesseman was 19 when she was drafted by the Washington Mystics in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Still a teenager, there was a lot she had to grow into, including her role as a leader.

She describes herself as an introvert, but Monday afternoon as the Sky took on the Dallas Wings in their first preseason game, Meesseman was vocal with her young teammates from start to finish.

The starting five in the Sky’s 92-77 preseason loss was unrecognizable compared to last year’s starting rotation. As Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Azurá Stevens watched Monday’s game from the bench, Meesseman took the floor as the Sky’s most veteran starter and commanded the role well.

“Sloot is louder,” Meesseman said. “She leads for the whole team. My way of leading is a little quieter, more face to face. If I have to speak up, I’ll do it but it’s something I’ve had to learn over the last few years.”

Meesseman credits her role with the Belgian national team with expediting her abilities as a leader.

After Stefanie Dolson signed with the New York Liberty this offseason, rumors began to swirl about how Sky coach/general manager James Wade would fill that hole. Dolson played an important role coming off the bench last season. Dolson came up big in the Finals against the Phoenix Mercury, specifically in Game 4.

Her departure was met with concern from fans, but when Wade signed Meesseman talk about the Sky being the league’s super team began. Monday afternoon, without any of the Sky’s regular starters, it was evident how much Meesseman strengthens the already talented roster.

“Adding [Meesseman] takes us to a whole other level,” Vandersloot said. “She can fit anywhere she goes. Of course there’s going to be a learning curve figuring out how she fits with Candace [Parker], [Stevens] and Kahleah [Copper]. We have our core back and now we’re adding this super piece to it. I expect us to play good basketball this year.”

Parker and Copper aren’t in Chicago yet. Parker is expected to arrive this week and Copper in mid-May due to overseas commitments.

Meesseman’s goal in her first game in a Sky uniform was to get acclimated to a new system and find her spots. She accomplished that finishing with 24 points on 66.7% shooting and grabbed five rebounds, had five assists and two steals without any of the Sky’s starters.

The final score isn’t indicative of who this team will be in 2022. Wade has 14 players on training camp contracts and before the season starts he will need to waive 12 of them. Kathleen Doyle was one who after getting out to a slow start impressed in her preseason performance.

Wade’s roster is already a cheat code, as Stevens put it last week. What the Sky need out of spots 10 and 11 are players with high basketball IQs who can maintain the team’s quality of play when the starters are on the bench. Doyle looked like one of those players Monday afternoon.

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