June 8, 2020
The definitive Vanderquigs family stats comparison
Breaking down Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, and Sam Quigley Smith’s storied careers
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Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot (center, in blue) drives to the basket against the Connecticut Sun. Her wife and teammate Allie Quigley is also pictured (fifth from left, in blue). Photo credit: Chris Poss.
In her 11-year WNBA career, Chicago Sky shooting guard Allie Quigley has played for five teams and worn two jersey numbers: 14 and 22, the same as her parents wore at the University of St. Francis (USF). Allie also wore her father Pat’s number 14 during her college career at DePaul, and younger sister Sam wore their mother Christine’s 22.
Growing up, Sam and Allie seemed to be a perfect pair, Sam the point guard and Allie the sharpshooter, and they often teamed up against their two brothers in the backyard. By some accounts, Sam played more like their father despite wearing their mother’s number, and vice versa for Allie.
“We learned to play together,” Sam told ESPN in 2011. “I always felt like I could throw her any pass.” Sam was also the more vocal one, by her own admission often “screaming at the referees” when Allie would get fouled in high school.
The Quigleys were teammates for two seasons at DePaul, ultimately becoming a rare pair of sisters to earn All-America honors (Allie from the Associated Press in 2007 and 2008 and Sam from the WBCA in 2011). After graduation, Sam embarked on a coaching career, starting out as an assistant to her uncle Brian Michalak at her parents’ alma mater. She then became USF’s head coach from 2012 to 2017 before being hired at Lewis University—whose home court happens to be named for Pat Quigley, the school’s former tennis coach.
Meanwhile, Allie was trying to stick in the WNBA. She was the No. 22 pick in the 2008 draft and played less than eight minutes per game in her first four seasons. In 2013, after a year out of the league, she was invited to the Chicago Sky’s training camp. That would give her not only the opportunity to cement a place in the league, but also the chance to meet her future wife, Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot.
The couple began dating after the 2013 season and got married in December 2018, solidifying their status as a WNBA power couple known to many as the Vanderquigs. Sam told Sports Illustrated in 2019 that, early in the relationship, “I could see in Allie’s eyes and her behavior that Courtney had changed her so much for the better.”
The Vanderquigs have also credited their relationship for helping their careers. “Once we started dating … both of our careers took off,” Vandersloot said last year. “We owe each other a lot.”
In 2019, Vandersloot broke her own WNBA single-season assist record with an even 300, and Quigley has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons and won the 3-point contest at the All-Star Game in 2017 and 2018.
Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley attempts a shot off of one leg against the Washington Mystics. Photo credit: Domenic Allegra.
But the Vanderquigs still have more they want to achieve in the WNBA after being eliminated from last year’s playoffs on a buzzer-beater. Sam, too—now with the last name Quigley Smith and a mother of four—has much more to come in her career. Yet, with the trio having accomplished so much already, there is one lingering question: who is the best of the bunch?
Quigley provided a partial answer on the Locked on WBB podcast in April, telling host Howard Megdal of her one-on-one battles with Vandersloot, “I’ve won more outside games, but she usually wins the inside games … In general, she probably wins more.” But Sam, whom longtime DePaul head coach Doug Bruno once called “one of the best leaders and captains to ever compete at DePaul,” deserves a say in this, too. So I tallied up the statistics from all three players’ collegiate careers as well as the Vanderquigs’ professional careers to settle the score.
The college statistics are from the Gonzaga and DePaul women’s basketball websites, the WNBA Draft information is from Across the Timeline, and the WNBA statistics are from Basketball-Reference. The top performance in each statistical category is highlighted.
Vandersloot had a legendary career at Gonzaga, becoming the first Division I player (men’s or women’s) to tally 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists. She still holds the NCAA single-season assists record with 367 and is third all-time in career assists with 1,118. So it’s not surprising that she took top honors in the family in most statistical categories, including assists per game, field goal percentage, and steals per game. She also had the most team success, as the Zags won over 80% of their games in Vandersloot’s four seasons and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2011.
Meanwhile, Allie and Sam’s respective roles shine through from this chart, Sam averaging the fewest turnovers and Allie leading the trio in points per game, 3-point shooting percentage, and free throw shooting percentage. But Allie was not just a scorer: she averaged 3.9 rebounds per game, a solid number for a 5’10 guard, and tied Vandersloot with nearly one block every three games. The Quigleys also won over two-thirds of their games in college and made separate trips to the Sweet Sixteen, Allie as a sophomore in 2006 and Sam as a senior in 2011.
The Vanderquigs took very different paths to the WNBA, with Quigley beating the odds as a second-round pick and Vandersloot being selected in the lottery. Yet both are now fixtures in the Chicago Sky’s plans, and their WNBA statistics make for one of the most even head-to-head battles this series has had.
Despite being three years apart in age, the Vanderquigs have played nearly an identical number of games in the WNBA, with Vandersloot seeing slightly more playing time in her career. In all but two categories—games played and free throw shooting percentage—the player who has the edge during the regular season also has the edge in the playoffs. Vandersloot leads in rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals per game, while Quigley scores more points, is a more accurate shooter, and commits fewer turnovers and fouls.
There are also some advanced stats that are available only for regular-season games. Those numbers suggest that Vandersloot is the more efficient player and better defender, while Quigley is the stronger offensive player. Vandersloot has also contributed more win shares in her nine seasons and won four WNBA awards: a spot on the All-Rookie Team in 2011 and All-WNBA honors in 2015, 2018, and 2019. Quigley has never made an All-WNBA team, but she won back-to-back Sixth Woman of the Year awards in 2014 and 2015.
When the WNBA season wraps up, the Vanderquigs usually head to Europe, where they have played for a combined 13 different teams across six countries. This offseason, though, had a unique twist as Quigley participated in the NBA HORSE Challenge, which sought to fill the void of live sports during the coronavirus pandemic. Quigley defeated NBA All-Star Chris Paul in the first round, and partway through the matchup, Paul exclaimed that “all he was hearing from Quigley’s backyard hoop were swishes.” (“Sounds like this should [be] on a shirt,” Sam Quigley Smith tweeted.) Naturally, Vandersloot provided an assist, filming Quigley’s shots for the television audience.
Quigley lost in the semifinals to Zach LaVine, who was roundly criticized for refusing to go shot-for-shot with Quigley and relying instead on his superior vertical leap. Meanwhile, Quigley’s signature seated shot led to lots of copycat videos on Twitter and the creation of the #QuaratineQuigleyChallenge.
The HORSE Challenge also raised over $200,000 for coronavirus relief efforts—but that was not the only way the Vanderquigs made shots for charity during the pandemic. In May, despite wet and chilly weather, they joined broadcaster Debbie Antonelli’s 24-hour fundraiser for Special Olympics to play a game of PIG—which follows the same rules as HORSE but with fewer letters—with Antonelli’s son Frankie. Quigley revealed the winner on Twitter:
An upset? Perhaps. Maybe watching Quigley prepare for the NBA HORSE Challenge gave Vandersloot some ideas. Or maybe it wasn’t much of an upset: while Quigley is the better shooter with the Sky, Vandersloot had the highest field goal percentage in the family in college.
Next up, can we get Vandersloot, Quigley, and Quigley Smith to play a three-person game of HORSE to settle things once and for all? We can call it BALLER.
Families previously featured in this series include Erica McCall and DeWanna Bonner, Chennedy Carter and Jia Perkins, the Joneses, the Samuelsons, the Ogwumikes (Part 1 and Part 2), and the Mabreys. If you would like to suggest a family for a future story, please leave a comment below.
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats, FanSided and Power Plays.