Chicago, IL -- WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has garnered most of attention out of Chicago as the Sky enter the playoffs and begin their quest for a championship. It's point guard Courtney Vandersloot though, that will keep pushing the Sky's no. 1 offense and help propel the team to new heights.
"As a rookie she was thrown into the fire, and it wasn't always met with positive results," head coach Pokey Chatman said. "Courtney is the coach on the floor, and she's done a tremendous job for us."
Vandersloot played in and started all 34 games this season en route to leading the league in assists per game for the second consecutive year.
Chicago has made the playoffs each of the last three seasons and last year reached the WNBA Finals as a fourth seed. Unfortunately, the Sky ran into a Phoenix team that won a WNBA-record 29 games and had the all-world play of Diana Taurasi.
This year, Chicago enters the playoffs as an offensive juggernaut. The Sky put together the no. 1 ranked offense, had the MVP, who led the league in scoring and most importantly, had the league leader in assists.
"[Courtney] has blossomed because initially we knew we were going to be without that dominant post player," Chatman said. "We made a conscious effort to play differently, and Courtney embraced it."
Last season the Sky offense was in part built around the post presence of Slyvia Fowles. Delle Donne was coming into her own as a player but suffered from Lyme disease for most of last season as well, and Chicago just played at a slower pace than they are currently in 2015.
"[The offense] was one of those things we had clicking right from the beginning of training camp," Vandersloot said. "We want the best shot, and it doesn't matter who takes it."
Vandersloot has excelled this year because of the faster pace in which the offense plays. This season, the Gonzaga product transformed into a legitimate scoring threat - averaging 11.4 ppg - and has become a consistent 3-point shooter.
"She's gotten better every year and has taken us to where we are now," Allie Quigley said. "She showed this year that she could score and pass. It's pretty deadly when you have someone like that running the show."
Chicago's offense benefits players like Delle Donne, veteran Cappie Pondexter, and Quigley - the sharpshooter off the bench - who can all score in a variety of ways. Yet it's Vandersloot who sets each of them up for open looks.
"Courtney has changed the speed of the game, and we just have to keep up with her," Delle Donne said. "By doing that we get so many more possessions and so many great looks."
For Chicago to finally be crowned champion, it'll have to replicate the offense that took the league by storm this season and running the show will be Vandersloot.
The Sky will open the playoffs tomorrow against the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference semifinals.