Rosemont, Il -- When Atlanta upset Seattle on Wednesday, Chicago already knew what to expect. The Sky was going to have to strap down on defense and limit the trips to free “PointVille”. Chicago leads the WNBA in scoring, averaging 86.2 points a game but they have the worst stats for sending teams to the line for free points.
The Sky’s leading scorer is still out with a thumb injury, but could someone else step up to fill the void and get another impressive victory without Elena Delle Donne?
“Everyone contributed to what we were trying to do,” said Chatman after her team’s 108-98 victory. “Atlanta is a really long athletic team that causes some problems for you, and I felt like that never bothered us. So we got into a rhythm offensively. When they challenged us, we were able to have enough confidence to weather the storm.”
Outside of everyone stepping up, point guard Courtney Vandersloot shined the brightest for Chicago.
By definition from Google: a point guard is the back court player who directs the team’s offense. The point guards make sure the right person gets the ball at the right time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google just put “See Courtney Vandersloot” for another line of definitions for what a point guard means.
Check out her stats…
Vandersloot is fourth in the WNBA with 4.7 in assists. With six years in the league, Vandersloot continues to climb the all-time leaderboard. After her team’s win over Connecticut on Sept. 11, Vandersloot became the 27 player to ever reach 900 assists. If you thought that was impressive, she isn’t done. Vanderlsoot also has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios at 2.90 in the league.
Today, she was the true definition of a point guard both on and off the court. Vandersloot took her team into the locker room with 14 points, five assists, and two steals. She took advantage of her height to squeeze past her defenders and to duck under her defender’s arms in the paint.
Vandersloot’s explosive 14 points in the first half was just what the Sky needed. It got them off to such a great start and boosted their confidence for the Round 2 win of the WNBA Playoffs.
“If you guys remember in the very beginning, [it was] like she was back in Gonzaga. Coming off her screens looking to shoot,” shared Chatman as she reenacted Slootie’s (Vandersloot) actions on the court.
“It was nice for me to see. It was like Zag Nation. She had a confidence about her. Defensively, she disrupted people, offensive foul, turn-over, just a lot of things that shows growth.”
With the third quarter getting closer to being history (most points scored in a playoff game), Vandersloot led the fast break and found Tamera Young with a no look assist; she extended her team’s lead to 10.
Vandersloot once again put the ball in the right player’s hands. As the shot clock ran down still in the third, she drove under the basket and dished it to Allie Quigley. Quigley knocked down the biggest three of the night, extending the lead to 17, the largest of the game at that time.
“She has been a nemesis [to me] ever since back at Gonzaga,” Atlanta coach Michael Cooper said on Vandersloot. “That’s probably why I don’t have hair- trying to figure her out. But she is a great defensive player. She also gets the ball where it’s needed.” (Funny, that’s the definition again of what it takes to be a point guard)
When Vandersloot isn’t playing (which isn’t often- today she played for 33 min), she gives Jamierra Faulkner and her team the biggest support from off the bench. From jumping up and down on the sideline, to clapping her hands frantically with the towel on her shoulders, Vandersloot is always in the game, even if her game clock isn’t ticking.
Sloot was there to let her team do what they do best, SCORE! She had 13 assists, another climb on the leaderboard, and added 21 points of her own.
“Slootie is great. I love playing with her,” shared Sky forward Jessica Breland. Breland stated she believes Vandersloot to be the best point guard she has ever played with. “She is a great point guard. She knows when to take it all the way, she knows how to get people the ball at the right spot.
“Sometime she hits layups and I’m like, ‘WOW’,” Breland laughed. Breland and everyone else watching the games, screams “WOW” majority of the time Vandersloot touches the ball.
Chicago flies to the west coast to take on the MVP candidates from Los Angeles on Wednesday at 10 p.m ET. Of course they hope to have Delle Donne back, but with the player they call ‘Slootie,’ the Sky will be ready to take flight.