Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, September 05, 2014

WNBA FINALS: Chicago's Quigley Turns Dream Into Her Own Reality

Guru's note: This is the companion piece to Rob's main preview above this. Some quotes drawn from Thursday's media session.

By Rob Knox (@knoxrob1)

There was a time when Allie Quigley, like the campers she was supervising, was a spectator at WNBA games and dreaming.

While working a camp for current DePaul head coach Doug Bruno during the summer of 2010, Quigley attended a ‘Camp Day’ with the group in her role as a counselor.

However, two months later when Bruno finished his July recruiting and attended a Sky-Storm game, he recognized a familiar face in a visiting green Storm uniform.

“She’s playing for Seattle,” Bruno said. “I wasn’t surprised, but it just tells you the type of person she is that two months prior, she was working as a camp counselor and now she’s playing in the WNBA.

"She has gone from being the last kid on the roster, to signing a couple week contracts to being part of the Sky rotation and now being a major impact player for the Sky.”

The talented Quigley embodies everything that’s wonderful about sports.

The Chicago Sky guard and WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year is savoring the blessing of helping her team reach the Eastern Conference pinnacle. Quigley has persevered and never stopped believing that she would be an elite performer in the WNBA.

Quigley will lead the Sky into the best-of-five WNBA Finals against heavily favored Phoenix beginning Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Airways Center (3:30 p.m., ABC).

For Quigley, it’s pretty unique that she’s competing in the WNBA Finals against the franchise for whom she played her first 20 games of her professional career for in 2008 and parts of 2009.

“It feels awesome just to know that all these ups and downs over the years and hard work has paid off and just to finally be able to truly feel a part of it,” Quigley said Thursday during the Sky’s press conference.

“I’ve been on teams where I’ve been the 11th or 12th player and we’ve had some success, but it’s different when you’re actually contributing and a part of it, so it just feels really good just to finally be here.”

Quigley was a scoring machine at DePaul finishing with 2,078 points upon graduating in 2008.

Before becoming a permanent fixture and key contributor in the Sky rotation, Quigley quietly believed that her time would come.

After playing for the Mercury, she had stints with Seattle, Indiana and San Antonio. Quigley continued developing her game overseas and became a star.

Fortunately for Quigley, her lightning-quick release and velvety-smooth shooting stroke eventually caught the eyes of current Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman, who also coached over in Russia.

This season, Quigley emerged as a force averaging 11.2 points per game and injecting instant energy and scoring to the Sky when she stepped onto the floor.

She had to play more minutes and probably a bigger role than imagined when the team gathered in May for preseason practice. Quigley handled the increased action with no issues.

During the playoffs, Quigley literally turned up.

She scored in double figures in four of the Sky’s six playoff games including a career-best 24-point performance against the Fever Wednesday night in the decisive third game on the road.

Against the Fever, Quigley averaged a team best 18 points during the three-game series in which the Sky won the last two games after dropping the opener.

Quigley knew she belonged. All she needed was a consistent opportunity.

“I just stayed positive and kept the faith that it’s going to happen,” Quigley said. “I had a lot of family members and coach Bruno and other coaches believing in me and telling me along the way that ‘just stick with it. You’re gonna get your shot, you’re gonna get your shot.”

Bruno believes that’s one of the best things that’s happened for Quigley.

He immediately sent her a text message following the Sky’s win over the Fever.

Bruno,man assistant to Geno Auriemma on the USA Basketball women's national team, is a Sky season ticket holder and has enjoyed watching Quigley shine.

“Pokey Chatman has been great for her,” Bruno said. “She really knew her game and has done a great job of injecting confidence into her and putting her on the floor.

"Allie’s performances are not a fluke or something that’s just happened. She’s always been capable of putting up those types of numbers. Allie is really one of the toughest players I coached. She’s skilled and got talent and is a really tough young woman.”

Chatman has been happy that everybody has finally had an opportunity to see what she already knew about Quigley’s ability.

“I expect every time Allie shoots the ball that it’s going in,” Chatman said. “I’m surprised when she misses, and then my staff’s like ‘She only missed two shots. Chill out,’ but she’ll probably be in the gym today working out at some point.

"I was privy to watching Allie abroad for three years and watching her against these elite players, so it’s not a surprise. I’m just happy she’s done it on a stage where everyone can witness it.”

Making Quigley’s story all the more special is that in the words of Bruno, she’s “An All-American girl.”

A native of nearby Joilet, Quigley has spent much of her life in shadows of the Sears Tower, Solider Field and the magnificent mile, in the nation’s second largest city.

Quigley has immense pride in being part of her hometown team that’s on the cusp of a championship.

Already the city has celebrated the Jackie Robinson Little League team that won the United States Little League championship.

In recent years the Blackhawks and White Sox have captured titles and Quigley fondly remembers growing up watching the Bulls win six NBA titles.

The Sky could be next.

“It feels amazing,” Quigley said. ““I think it’s huge. I mean, it’s never happened before and I feel like everything we’re doing is kind of history every time so it just feels great to finally give back to them because they’ve stuck by us for so many years.

"It’s hard to think too much about it right now because we’re so in the moment and it’s just kind of an amazing ride we’re on right now, so it would be great to do something like that for Chicago and to be a part of a team like that, but we’re just going to take it one game at a time and try to steal some wins in Phoenix.”

No matter what happens in the next two weeks, Quigley’s journey is an inspiration.

She’s proof that anything can be accomplished with hard work, faith, and persistence.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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