WNBA Talk: Courtney Vandersloot discusses hard screens and injury recovery
Former Kentwood High and Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot sidelined by knee injury
Seattle Times staff reporter
Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot. The Sky announced last week Vandersloot would be out six to 10 weeks due to a sprained left knee. Vandersloot, a former Kentwood High and Gonzaga star, is leading the WNBA in assists (6.4). Chicago is 1-2 in her absence. Vandersloot sat out the team’s only game this season in Seattle, on Saturday.
Seattle Times: I watched that New York game (June 27). You were defending Liberty guard Anna Cruz with seven seconds left when forward Plenette Pierson decked you with a hard screen. That’s how your injury occurred?
Courtney Vandersloot: Yeah, it was just bad timing. I was running down … it’s actually really hard for me to remember. Not because of a concussion or anything like that, it just happened so fast that no one even saw it coming. Plenette turned to set a screen and I just got drilled by it.
Q: Did you know immediately the contact damaged your knee?
Vandersloot: When I first got hit, I didn’t think anything was wrong. But I was lying on the ground and thinking, ‘Dang, my knee is kinda sore.’
Q: Did you see the screen Storm forward Crystal Langhorne set against Tulsa guard Skylar Diggins? The video has a lot of hits on YouTube.
Vandersloot: I did! My reaction was probably the same as everyone’s in ‘OH!’ I feel for her, too, because as point guards, we get real mad about that. But mine, I couldn’t even be mad because it was so fast.
Q: Yeah, Crystal actually had position but was called for a foul. Shock center Courtney Paris should have called out the screen, right?
Vandersloot: Yeah. Crystal was there for a while. I think everybody saw it coming — except Skylar.
Q: You think you can return before the end of the season Aug. 17?
Vandersloot: I have hope, I don’t know if anybody else does, because I’ve never had any problems with my knees. My legs are strong and I’m not as tall, my MCL isn’t challenged as much. (Former Sky center) Carolyn Swords injured her MCL last year and had to have surgery because hers was stretched out. Doctors say I have a lot of things going for me.
Q: A few people on Twitter have teased that you look like an intern with your legal pad, taking notes on the sideline. Hear any ribbing?
Vandersloot: People don’t recognize me at first because I have my hair down. I get that a lot. Whatever … I’m supposed to be keeping track of special play situations and when we score or not and why. It keeps me involved but it’s hard because I’m into the game and I’m talking to the players and then, ‘Oh, crap! What did they run?’
Q: Tell me more about rookie Jamierra Faulkner, who’s replacing you. She had 27 points in her first WNBA start.
Vandersloot: She’s been doing stuff like that all season. But she’s used to coming in and giving us quick sparks. I’m trying to help her with play calls and how to run her team a little bit. It’s one thing I struggled with, too, because I was also shy and very quiet. But she does a good job and her teammates listen to her and she’s fearless.
Q: You were able to spend an extended time home this trip to Seattle. Where did you watch the fireworks?
Vandersloot: It was the first time my family was all together in a really long time. My sister just moved to Seattle, so we just hung out and watched the show at Lake Union. When I was home (during high school) we used to go to Lake Meridian, so it was cool to see a bigger show.
Q: Kelly Graves left Gonzaga to take the position at Oregon. What do you think of that change?
Vandersloot: I’m really not that happy about it. I want everybody at Gonzaga. I’m very happy that (former assistant) Lisa (Fortier) is the head coach because I was thinking I was going to lose my connection. Lisa, we’re really close, so that’s awesome. She deserves it and I talked to coach Graves, he seems happy there. So, it worked out the way it was supposed to.
Q: Does this mean you’re a Ducks fan now?
Vandersloot: No! I’m always a Zag.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.