After losing seven of their past eight games, the Chicago Sky found themselves tied 77-77 with the Indiana Fever on June 12. The offense was looking for an answer with just under two minutes to play as the Fever slowly chipped away at the Sky’s nine-point lead.
Enter Allie Quigley.
Chicago’s all-time leading scorer flew around a screen set by Azurá Stevens and nailed a three on the wing. On the next play, Quigley drew a foul on Teaira McCowan after ripping an offensive rebound away from Indiana’s 6’7’ center and hit two free throws. Indiana answered on the next possession, but it was one of those nights where a scorer of Quigley’s caliber wasn’t going to let her team lose.
Ever since the three-time all-star delivered the Fever that dagger, Chicago has gone on a tear and returned to its status as a contender thanks to Quigley’s spark off of the bench.
“Allie [Quigley] is special,” said Chicago’s head coach and general manager James Wade during a recent appearance on the Winsidr WNBA Show. “It doesn’t change when we play her or where we play her from, we’re going to play for her. Our offense is going to be predicated [on her]. It is easier for us to put her in there and run plays for her after the game has changed a little bit.
“We start off with a little bit more of a defensive mindset where we are picking up the guards and switching and then bring [Quigley] in to take us over the hump.”
Quigley has done just that since Wade moved her back to the bench. During the Sky’s recent seven-game win streak, Quigley played only the sixth-most minutes on the team but ranked at the top of almost every offensive category.
Allie Quigley During the Sky’s Seven-Game Win Streak
|Offensive Category||Team Rank|
*minimum of 14 minutes per game
Playing her least amount of minutes per game since 2016, Quigley is making the most of her opportunities as a non-starter and ranks second in PPG amongst bench players since June 9. She first made a name for herself as a back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year recipient in 2014 and 2015 which has made the move back to the bench seamless for the Sky.
“I just try to stay ready on the bench, stay warm, and whenever my number’s called just be ready to do whatever I would do even if I was starting,” said Quigley after the Sky’s loss to the Sun on June 27. “My role doesn’t really change. It’s just to be that offensive spark and give us some outside presence.”
Opponents have especially felt Quigley’s presence from beyond the arc since the Sky put their seven-game losing streak behind them. During Chicago’s early-season slide where it was without Quigley from May 19-June 3 due to a lingering hamstring injury, the Sky struggled to find rhythm in its half-court sets. Two weeks ago, Chicago ranked 11th in the league in points per possession in the half-court after being in the top three in that category in 2019 and 2020.
The return of Quigley and her quick trigger has quickly resolved those woes as the Sky rank second in the league in points per game in the last eight games (86.6) and haven’t scored under 80 points until their recent loss to the Sun on June 27. She has shown if defenders give her a shred of daylight she is going to make them pay. In 11 games this year, Quigley has hit 54.3 percent of her shots coming off screens and has 19 field goals made when her teammates free her off the ball, both league bests according to Synergy.
It would be obtuse to not acknowledge the importance of Candace Parker’s return to the lineup, the scoring consistency Diamond DeShields displayed during the win-streak, and Courtney Vandersloot’s wizardry running the offense. Through the Sky’s high points though, Quigley has been at the center of it.
“[Quigley] makes me a better coach because it is easy to play call for her,” said Wade during his appearance on the Winsidr WNBA Show. “The fact that she likes to move and pulls gravity with her and gives people driving lanes, it makes us so much better. ”