Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Vandersloot's steady hand keeps Chicago in contention

Courtney Vandersloot (No. 22) calls out directions during Chicago Sky's game at New York. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

You knew the ball would be in her hands with ten seconds remaining. 

At that point, the Chicago Sky held a two-point lead over the New York Liberty, inbounding in their front court with the pass going to Courtney Vandersloot, who was immediately fouled. Two shots later, Chicago was 6-9, closing out a 103-99 win over the Liberty.

“We are definitely starting to jell as of late, “ Vandersloot said following Friday’s win over the Liberty. “One thing is we have a full roster. Allie (Quigley) was out and I arrived late after playing in Turkey. Stefanie Dolson is playing well for us. At this point, having everyone together makes a big difference.”

The Sky were mired in a six-game slump before going on a win streak. The victory over the Liberty made it three straight for Chicago, a team currently finding its way and starting to win in the process. Vandersloot put together another solid performance, with 14 points and 11 assists against one turnover. Vintage Vandersloot. She credits a great deal of her development to her Gonzaga coach, Kelly Graves. 

“He was outstanding in all areas of the game,” she said of Graves, who has moved on building Oregon into a power in their own right. In Glory Hounds, Bud Withers’ outstanding book on Gonzaga’s rise to prominence, a few chapters are devoted to the women.  Withers noted how Vandersloot spent a few sessions training with one John Stockton.

“His son (David) was going into his first year, I believe, at Gonzaga, so John was around a bit,” Vandersloot recalled. “I reached out to him and we worked out together a few times. It was great.” Stockton showed her the finer points of shooting, ball handling and most importantly, passing, how one can hit an open teammate from a variety of angles, sometimes varying the release of the pass. 

“We worked out just a few times,” Vandersloot said. “Beside the technical, he talked about competitiveness as well. It was just great working with him."
To date, Vandersloot -- in her seventh season in the league -- averages 9.4 points per game, 7.3 assists and just 2.8 turnovers. The last figure is significant as turnovers were something the 5’8” guard struggled with early in her career. She is paired with Allie Quigley in the backcourt. Quigley’s college coach, Doug Bruno, serves as another mentor for Vandersloot and her teammate as well. 

“Doug goes to some of our practices and offers advice,” Vandersloot said of the DePaul head coach. “He’s a great guy and helps us a lot.” 

The advice has been well-received. With an appreciable amount of the season remaining and teams going through rough times at different stages, the Sky are optimistic and headed in the right direction.

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