Sky coach: Flagrant foul on Clark not who we are

Chicago Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said guard Chennedy Carter and the team “will learn” from an incident in Saturday’s game when Carter committed a flagrant 1 foul against Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark.

“Physical play, intensity, and a competitive spirit are hallmarks of Chicago Sky basketball,” Weatherspoon said in a statement released Monday. “Chennedy got caught up in the heat of the moment in an effort to win the game.

“She and I have discussed what happened and that it was not appropriate, nor is it what we do or who we are. Chennedy understands that there are better ways to handle situations on the court, and she will learn from this, as we all will.”

During the third quarter of a physical back-and-forth game won 71-70 by the Fever in Indianapolis, Carter shoulder-checked Clark from behind and knocked her down before the basketball was inbounded.

The play was not reviewed by game officials and was called an away-from-the-ball common foul, but the WNBA on Sunday upgraded it to a flagrant 1 after a league review. After the game, Carter didn’t answer questions about the incident with Clark, but made posts about it on social media.

Indiana coach Christie Sides and general manager Lin Dunn both expressed concern after Saturday’s game about the incident and the physical play that Clark, the No. 1 draft pick, has faced this season.

“We kind of went through this last year with [Aliyah Boston],” Sides said of the Fever’s 2023 top draft pick. “New rookies, No. 1 picks … players want to show that they’re vets in this league, and they do want to make it hard on these rookies. That’s just how it goes.

“We sent video in [to the WNBA] last year. We were making our complaints to try to figure out to help AB. Then the same this year with Caitlin. It’s the same thing. We’re going to continue to fight to try to get the calls; they see one thing and we see another.”

Clark said on Sunday about the physical play: “You gotta find a way to hold your own. I grew up with two brothers and things were very physical … so I’m definitely prepared for it.”

Weatherspoon, one of the stars in the opening years of the WNBA with the New York Liberty, is in her first season as a head coach in the league. Carter was the No. 4 draft pick by the Atlanta Dream in 2020 but was suspended during her second season — playing 11 games in 2021 — and then traded to the Los Angeles Sparks, with whom she appeared in 24 games in 2022.

Carter was waived by the Sparks before the 2023 season and didn’t play in the WNBA last season. She signed as a free agent with the Sky in February and is averaging 12.0 points through seven games.

“As a team, we will grow together,” Weatherspoon concluded in her statement, “and continue to work hard to display strong leadership and set a positive example for our competitors, fans, and partners.”

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