Joined: 19 Jun 2019
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|Posted: 09/12/20 6:52 am :::
|Glad for the win but sucks Sloot didn't get the assists record.
Actually have hope for the playoffs, not sure why!
Free Athletic subscription (thanks Sprint/T-Mobile!) allows me to share this content here. (photos and videos not included)
(photos and videos not included)
If the sound you just heard was the whiz of a pass coming within centimeters of your nose or the sound of a coach yelling at you because apparently you were open when you swear — and the three defenders guarding you agree — that you were not, then: Welcome. Welcome to the club of “Learning How to Play with Courtney Vandersloot.”
Tagline: You’re always open when you’re playing with Courtney Vandersloot. Get used to it.
The learning curve is steep when you’re playing with the best passing guard in women’s basketball, but luckily for those who play with her, the club is brimming with experienced players who’ve taken the course.
On Monday night, in the Sky’s 100-77 win over the Fever, Vandersloot broke the WNBA record for assists in a single game (1 — a mark that was one of the oldest records in the WNBA, set twice by Ticha Penichiero in 1998 and 2002.
Vandersloot had been on the doorstep of that record a few times during her career. This season, as she racked up one double-digit assist game after another, it seemed she might just get the record that even she thought was “untouchable.”
Vandersloot’s journey to getting to 18 assists in a single game is not just the story of a player learning to become a prolific passer, it’s also a story filled with teammates learning how to play with a passer as prolific as she. Because while they say that a passer is only as good as those on the receiving end, teammates who’ve learned to play with Vandersloot say that’s not exactly true.
Her vision on the floor allows her to put the ball where it should be, making the game easier for everyone around her.
“When people don’t know the right timing of a pass or the correct position of a pass, it makes the game harder, because at the end of the day you’re going to have to make the difficult move or finish,” Sky teammate Stefanie Dolson said. “But she makes the game easier because she passes the perfect pass almost every time.”
While it might be easier to play once you get to that point, it’s the getting there part that is often the challenge for some teammates.
“I reckon I never got used to receiving passes because I would not be open and then, the ball would be in my hands,” former Gonzaga teammate Kayla Steindl (neé Standish) said. “My freshman year, that first practice, she hit me in the face multiple times. … I had no idea what I was doing.”
When Vandersloot was in high school in Washington, her coach Keith Hennig had to develop a drill they’d run every day in practice called “inside foot” for the bigs.
“Because of Courtney,” Hennig said, “you never knew when a ball was going to be zipped at your head.”
The post players would stand with their backs to the basket and follow the passes of a ball until a member of the coaching staff would throw a really hard pass their way by surprise. They’d each have to drop-step with their inside foot toward the basket.
The more they worked on it in practice, the better the results were in the games (and the fewer zipped passes that flew through players’ hands). Eventually, “Our bigs were very skilled at moving to an open area with their hands up and basically followed (Courtney) around with their hands because she was so sneaky with her passes,” Hennig said.
When Vandersloot got to Gonzaga, coach Kelly Graves (now at Oregon) would run a drill called “cycles.” It was a five-on-zero drill in which every player had to score a basket while running the Zags’ fast break on five separate trips down the court. But there was a time limit, too. So, in addition to thinking through which players had scored and had yet to score, all five players were sprinting.
As former teammate Kelly Bowen remembered, it was not her favorite drill. And not just because of the sprinting.
“We had to learn to always be facing the ball because you would get hit in the head, no word of a lie,” Bowen said. “You’d be concentrating so hard and trying to run as fast as you can, but you had to keep your head on a swivel because you never knew when (Courtney) was going to throw it. It was not an uncommon thing that you’d get hit in the side of the body or the head.”
“I think people started putting their hands up just in case, just covering your face,” Steindl added. “Don’t be caught off guard with Courtney.”
At Gonzaga, Vandersloot became the first Division I basketball player (in the women’s and men’s game) to score 2,000 points and record 1,000 assists in a career. The only player to achieve that since is Sabrina Ionescu, the WNBA rookie who played for Graves at Oregon.
As a sophomore, Vandersloot broke Gonzaga’s season assist record (221). Then she did it again as a junior (252), and as a senior (367), when she also set the NCAA record.
Her senior year, Vandersloot led the Zags to their first (and only) appearance in the Elite Eight. After she notched 17 assists in the Sweet 16 win over UCLA, Bruins coach Nikki Caldwell said, “The thing that makes her great is her ability to make her teammates look good.”
As a kid, Vandersloot had developed a knack for seeing the floor. She doesn’t remember a time in her game when she didn’t have that ability.
“It was kind of my gift, I guess,” Vandersloot said. “Other people jump high or run fast or shoot really well — mine was vision. I think that’s one of the only reasons I made it to this level. … My skill was really just running a team, seeing things develop and passing.”
When she was drafted into the WNBA as the No. 3 pick in 2011, she averaged 3.7 assists per game that year, which landed her 12th in the league. For the first three seasons of her career in Chicago, she says she needed to get accustomed to the lower margin of error in the pros.
In a way, her vision had to catch up to the physicality and speed of the game.
“The women were so much stronger, quicker and more athletic, defenders could get there faster,” Vandersloot said. “It was being able to see (an opening) and know that it might not really be there.”
In her fourth season in the league, she led the league (for the first time) by averaging six assists per game.
Three more times since 2014, Vandersloot has finished the season as the WNBA leader in assists per game and she currently sits in the No. 1 spot again, averaging 9.3 assists this season. But only once in Vandersloot’s career has she also finished the season as the leader in assist-to-turnover ratio, a rarity that’s rooted, coach James Wade said, in the fact that she is so good at finding her teammates.
“I’ve seen it where she’ll hit people (with a pass) and they’re not ready so it’ll cause a turnover, but it’s not her fault. It’s just that they didn’t expect it,” Wade said. “And sometimes you can’t blame it on the players because nobody can make that pass but her.
“We’ve talked about it — always have our hands ready to catch with two hands and always be ready. Playing with a point guard like that who can find you at any time, it can really surprise people.”
Added Dolson: “Every time she has the ball, I look at her and I’m waiting. If she’s not looking at me, she could still pass me the ball. If she jumps, she could still pass me the ball. You just always have to be on your toes.”
But it’s not only the flashy surprise passes or jump passes (which, it should be noted, are not Wade’s favorite — “Even to this day sometimes, I tell Sloot not to jump pass, but she does it anyway. And it ends 90 percent of the time in something gorgeous”) at which Vandersloot excels. It’s her ability to make the simple plays, too, said wife and teammate Allie Quigley.
“I feel like that’s why she has so many assists every game,” Quigley said. “She just knows how to make that simple pass.”
Between the simple passes, the no-look passes and the passes that surprise even the recipient, Vandersloot has tallied 1,842 assists in her career, the fifth most in WNBA history. She sits nearly 1,000 behind Storm guard Sue Bird, but at 31 years old and after taking down an 18-year-old record that some thought would never fall, it’s hard to imagine what exactly Vandersloot’s ceiling could be.
“She’s a special player and the things she does on the floor, there’s nobody doing that,” Wade said. “You can tell from her assist numbers how many records she’s breaking every year. And hers are records that probably aren’t going to be touched if she keeps going.”
As she does, the players around her will remember the most important part of playing with Vandersloot: You’re never not open.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Joined: 14 Jul 2019
Location: Seattle, WA
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|Posted: 09/14/20 9:37 pm :::
|IT'S OFFICIAL! Courtney Vandersloot is the FIRST player in WNBA HISTORY to average 10 Assists Per Game in a Single Season!!!
|Vandersloot finished the 22-game regular season Friday with 219 assists after 12 in the Sky's victory over Dallas. That made her season average 9.95. The Elias Sports Bureau, the WNBA's official statistician, said that night that Vandersloot's total would be rounded up to 10.0 but that she wouldn't officially be credited with that figure because it wasn't actually 10.0.
After video review, though, it was discovered that an assist in Chicago's Aug. 4 game vs. Dallas had been miscredited to Vandersloot's wife and fellow guard, Allie Quigley, and belonged to Vandersloot. It came on a basket scored by Cheyenne Parker at the 3:07 mark in the first quarter.
The WNBA reviewed and confirmed the correction, which gave Vandersloot 11 assists for that Aug. 4 game instead of 10, putting her season total at 220 and making her average 10.0.
......Maybe it isn't all horsesh*t after all!......
Man, f*** all this f***ing horsesh*t (no, yeah, for sure [RIP RBG])