New and improved Quigley a big asset for Sky

  • Guard Allie Quigley is one of the key reasons why the Chicago Sky made it to the WNBA Finals.

    Guard Allie Quigley is one of the key reasons why the Chicago Sky made it to the WNBA Finals. Associated Press

 
 

Thinking about life after basketball used to be much more prudent for Allie Quigley.

Two years ago, the Sky guard was a WNBA journey woman, having bounced from team to team, playing 34 games for four teams from 2008-11. Then, in 2012, there weren't any teams in the league that wanted her.

With no WNBA options, Quigley left for yet another season in Europe.

"There were definitely a lot of ups and downs back then," said Quigley, a Joliet native who starred at DePaul.

Yet even at that lowest point, quitting basketball never crossed her mind. Her next career move did, though.

"Allie's spent so much time playing in Europe that she's really Euro now," said younger sister Samantha Quigley, also a former star at DePaul and now the head women's basketball coach at St. Francis in Joliet. "She's all into coffee and juicing. She used to say that maybe she should open some kind of coffee or juicing cafe.

(Laughing) "I'm not sure how that would go over in Joliet."

Not that Allie will need to test market any time soon. Life after basketball is going to have to wait for a while now.

After this summer, Quigley has solid footing in the WNBA as the league's Sixth Woman of the Year. She's a big reason the Sky is in the WNBA Finals (9 p.m., ESPN). The Phoenix Mercury has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which moves to the UIC Pavilion in Chicago for Game 3 Friday.

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Quigley, who scored 13 points in 30 minutes in Sunday's Game 1 loss, averaged 11.2 points per game during the regular season after scoring just 3.8 points per game over her previous five WNBA seasons.

In the playoffs, Quigley has been even more productive at 14.3 points per game and hitting big shots at key moments.

"I've just loved watching her play this year," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "I think about that double overtime game against Indiana (in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals) and Allie made a big shot in overtime to put the Sky up by 3. She also shut down (Indiana guard) Shavonte Zellous late in the game. And she broke down (Indiana forward) Tamika Catchings with an ankle-breaking crossover, and Tamika is one of the best defenders in the league.

"What we're seeing now in her best games is the bottom of what she'll do moving forward in pro sports. There's a lot more coming from her."

On the night she was presented with the Sixth Woman of the Year award, Quigley couldn't help but marvel at how her stock has changed.

"I was out there (during the presentation) thinking about what a long road this has been," Quigley said in a soft, humbled voice. "I just love the game, and that kept me going. It's why I kept going when I got cut, when I had to be away (in Europe) from my family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was all about believing in myself and keeping the faith that I was going to get a chance and that it was all going to work out. I think maybe a little bit of everything just clicked this year."

Quigley, known for her scoring prowess and long-range shooting dating back to her high school days at Joliet Catholic, made a commitment last winter to becoming more versatile. She worked tirelessly on her ball-handling so that she could also be used at the point. She also worked on getting quicker and stronger so that her defense would no longer be a liability.

At training camp, Quigley said she was in the best shape of her life and feeling as confident about her game.

Then, as the Sky was hit with injuries, her minutes climbed.

"It's weird to say, but the injuries helped Allie," Samantha said. "She was able to show what she's really capable of doing and she gained a lot of confidence."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Quigley comes from the best-known sports family in Joliet. She and Samantha were two of the most decorated female athletes in Joliet Catholic history, playing three sports each (basketball, volleyball and softball).

Allie and Samantha overlapped for two years at DePaul and led the Blue Demons to multiple NCAA appearances. They roomed together at DePaul, just as they did all through their childhood.

"Special athletes who are throwbacks," Bruno said. "Both of them are gym rats and tremendous competitors."

Ryan, the oldest Quigley, was a talented high school quarterback and went on to play minor league baseball. The youngest Quigley, Jake, was a tennis star at St. Francis.

Going further back, mother Chris was a star basketball player at St. Francis and father Patrick was such a great hoops player at St. Francis that its court bears his name. He died of cancer when Allie was 7.

"A lot of people say we have a lot of similarities as players, just how we move on the court," Quigley said of her dad. "I just remember always being in the gym with him when I was younger. He was a coach.

"I think about him a lot when I'm playing. I think he would be really proud of me."

Much of Chicago is.

• Patricia Babcock McGraw has covered the Sky since its inaugural season in 2006. She is also a sideline reporter for Sky television games. She can be reached at pbabcock@dailyherald.com. Follow Patricia on Twitter at @babcockmcgraw.

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