Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot ready to take it to next level: ‘It’s crunch time’

Vandersloot has historically played better during the second half of the season.

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Courtney Vandersloot has historically played better during the second half of the season.

Courtesy of Chicago SKy

LAS VEGAS — All-Star weekend is about unwinding and having fun, something that can be lost at times during the heat of the season.

But the Sky will return to business as usual Sunday.

It’s officially “crunch time,” guard Courtney Vandersloot said.

“We only have 15 games left, and we need a lot of them,” Vandersloot said Saturday after the All-Star Game. “We have to lock in and continue to get better and make a playoff push.”

To make their first playoff appearance since 2016, the Sky will need all hands on deck. They’ll especially rely on Vandersloot to turn up the intensity, which shouldn’t be a problem for her.

Vandersloot historically has played -better as the season rolls on.

Last season, she put up big numbers after she was snubbed for the All-Star Game. She averaged 9.6 assists in the last eight games, setting WNBA records for assists in a season (258) and in a four-game period (50).

Vandersloot, who has averaged a league-high 8.5 assists this season, is prepared to do that again.

“It’s time to finish the season strong,” she said.

The Sky, who are 3-5 on the road, have a grueling road schedule to finish the season. They’ll play nine of their last 15 games away from Wintrust Arena, starting with a trip to Connecticut to play the league-leading Sun on Tuesday.

But the Sky are ready for the challenge.

“We have to approach it by looking at ourselves and figuring out how much growth have we really accomplished,” guard Diamond DeShields said. “We know that, and we’re just going to take it on together and we’re pretty prepared for it.”

Money matters

Mets slugger Pete Alonso, whose annual salary is $555,000, got to pocket $1 million after winning MLB’s Home Run Derby this month.

DeShields, who earns a fraction of Alonso’s salary, received $10,000 to donate to the charity of her choice.

Would DeShields have liked to keep the money?

In short, yes.

“The whole incentive to do the skills challenge was always to help the charity out, so I don’t have a problem giving the check to them,” said DeShields, who donated it to Hoops2O-Waterboys, an organization that raises funds and awareness for clean-water initiatives in East Africa. “But it would be nice to get some sort of bonus attached to it.”

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