Elizabeth Williams has stepped up as defensive leader for Sky this season
The Chicago Sky have preached a defensive focus and mentality since training camp, aiming to have their offense come from their physical, gritty defense. Throughout the first 10 games, the Sky have shown how tenacious their defense can be, earning a top 5 ranking in WNBA defenses.
Center Elizabeth Williams has proven to be the defensive leader inside for the Sky with her averages of 1.6 blocks, 1.1 steals and 3.3 defensive rebounds per game, and her blocking talents have moved her into the Top 10 in the league.
“I think when she’s locked in, she can be a difference-maker for us. She actually is a great anchor to our defense,” head coach James Wade said. “She’s engaged and disruptive, and it’s a part of our identity.”
“When E is on the floor, you just have a sense of comfort knowing that if you get baited, it’s probably going to get smack into a full throw anyway,” Alanna Smith said laughing. “You can take risks. You can be more aggressive because E is sitting there and you know she’s going to help you out.”
Williams has a knack for not just blocking but blocking without drawing contact. She’s found ways with her spacing and timing to avoid drawing contact on contested shots and deflections.
“I think a lot of people fail because they try to get the ball as early as possible, which usually ends up hitting somebody’s arm,” Williams said. “So I try to time it and wait a little. That’s just something over my career that I kind of pride myself in.”
Williams’ blocking ability and strength has increased compared to last season with the Atlanta Dream where she was averaging just 0.6 a game. This season, the 6’3” center hit the weight room thanks to a challenge from player development coach Chaz Franklin.
“I like lifting, because I’m an undersized post. So, if I’m not tall, I gotta at least be strong and quick,” Williams said. “He’s just challenging me to be a dominant post player, and we just give each other a hard time.”
As she’s progressed throughout the season, her lead-by-example mentality is contributing across the floor, specifically to post players like Smith, Sika Koné and newest addition in Khaalia Hillsman.
“You have one person that’s willing to sacrifice their body and do that, I think everybody will follow. It gives others courage to say, ‘Okay, that can be done, and we’ll do it, too,’” Wade said.