(AP) - A trip to the WNBA Finals last season has left Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky hungry for more.
The Sky had never won a playoff series before last year when they advanced to the finals. The Sky managed to get into the postseason as the four seed with a 15-19 record. Chicago got healthy at the right time to make its run.
"We were able to taste that championship and obviously we fell short, but we learned a lot from last season and hopefully that can get us a lot further this year," Delle Donne said.
The third-year star is the key to Chicago's success this season, which begins Friday night at home against the Indiana Fever.
Delle Donne had a disappointing season last year that was plagued by injuries. First there was a flare-up of her Lyme Disease that forced her to miss nearly half the season. Then a back issue hampered her during the playoffs.
"I'm 100 percent right now," Delle Donne said after the Sky played two exhibition games in Connecticut. "It's never gone, but definitely feel like it's controlled. Hopefully it will continue all season to be controlled."
The Sky didn't stand pat in the offseason, acquiring Chicago native Cappie Pondexter from the New York Liberty for Epiphanny Prince. Pondexter won two titles with Phoenix and was the MVP of the finals in 2009.
"We had a great season last year, this year it's a different squad," Delle Donne said. "There's some big names that aren't in the locker room. The addition of Cappie puts a target on our back. I welcome that, it means we put together a few good seasons now. You don't want to be the underdog for life."
Pondexter was thrilled for the chance to return home.
"It's a good atmosphere, my teammates are amazing, we know what direction we want to go in," Pondexter said. "We have something special with the pieces which are already in place."
One piece that isn't there for the Sky right now is center Sylvia Fowles. The All-Star asked to be traded in the offseason, but the team hasn't been able to meet her demands.
"We focus on who is here and not worry about who isn't," coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said.
Stephanie White took over as coach of the Fever when Lin Dunn retired after last year. The Indiana native will try and guide the team to an 11th straight playoff appearance.
"I've definitely come full circle," White said. "I felt that way when we won the championship. I was part of the first team and part of the first championship. I'm the first coach to play for that franchise, it's really pretty unbelievable."
White won't have Shante Zellous to begin the season. The six-year veteran is playing for Croatia in the Eurobasket tournament, which runs from June 11-28. Zellous, who averaged 11.0 points for Indiana last year, recently became a nationalized citizen of Croatia to help that team compete for an Olympic spot.
Zellous and Tamika Catchings led the Fever to the Eastern Conference finals last season following a 16-18 regular season. Catchings is back after averaging a team-high 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 2014.