Sky's Vandersloot overlooked for all-WNBA honors
Courtney Vandersloot is upset.
But not about what Chicago Sky fans might think.
Diehard Sky fans and "Slooty" fans were downright irritated that the veteran point guard was not named this week to either the first or second all-WNBA teams by the Associated Press.
After a fabulous year in which she set multiple team and league records for assists, including most assists in a season in WNBA history, Vandersloot is more than deserving of post-season recognition. The fact that she didn't get it is perhaps more of a statement of the depth of talent in the league.
"I have never felt disrespected or slighted," Vandersloot said of award-gate. "There are a lot of players who deserve those awards, too."
Indeed, there are a lot of good players in the WNBA, award-worthy players. And when the difference between some is like splitting hairs, most awards voters use team success to distinguish candidates.
The Sky did not have a winning record in 2018 and did not make the playoffs for the second year in a row, and that is what Vandersloot is upset about. It pains her to be sitting at home right now while other players are fighting for a WNBA championship, so much so that it's tough for her to even enjoy and reflect on her own season and what all those new records in her name mean to her.
"Maybe when my career is over I'll be able to do that," Vandersloot said with the laugh. "It's hard to reflect on some (personal achievement) like that when you're watching all these other teams play in the playoffs. It's like, yeah, I had a decent season, but I wish it resulted in more wins."
Vandersloot, who also broke the Sky's record for most assists in a game (15), and got the first triple-double in franchise history, has seen wins in Chicago over her career.
She was in her third year in the WNBA (2013) when the Sky earned its first playoff berth in franchise history. The next year, she helped the Sky get to the 2014 WNBA Finals. And then there were two more consecutive playoff appearances after that.
But the last two years have been rough. A coaching change and player movement and the addition of some very young pieces have made the Sky a team stuck in transition.
"We need to make this team a contending team. That's the most important thing to me, not records or stats, or anything else," Vandersloot said. "Everyone wants a championship and that's what is missing for me.
"The difference between me and a lot of the players (she shares the record books with) is that they have championships. That's what I want."
So how does the Sky go from occasional upset artist to real contender?
A closer would be nice. Certainly a legitimate superstar. A Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Maya Moore type. But how much of the cupboard would need to be cleared out for that?
Too much probably.
Vandersloot thinks that the Sky needs time more than anything.
"I think we have a superstar already in Allie (Quigley), and I think that (rookie) Diamond (DeShields) is going to be a superstar, too," Vandersloot said. "We just need some consistency. We need players to be here and stay here. That's not going to happen overnight.
"Look at the (Minnesota) Lynx. No one really knows that there was a time when they weren't very good but then they got all these good players and those players stayed there, and over time, they became what we all know now."
As Vandersloot tries to patiently bide her time in Chicago, she will continue to craft her game. She says she works on shooting more than anything since passing is more of an instinctual skill.
"Passing starts with vision, being able to see and create," Vandersloot said. "Sometimes, I'll be on the court and someone will have the ball and they won't make a certain pass and I'll think to myself, 'Why didn't they make that pass?' But it's that they didn't see it. I'm just blessed with that I guess. I see the entire court. But it's not something I really work on.
"(Passing) is a mentality, too. It's what I think I'm good at, so I'm always just very willing to give up the ball and make that pass to a teammate."
Just what teammates will surround Vandersloot next season, that's anyone's guess. Clearly, some tweaking is necessary.
"We've always had some really great pieces (in Chicago)," Vandersloot said. "But they haven't always been the right pieces fitting together. That's where we need to go from here."
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