After USA Training Camp, Vandersloot and Fowles are Ready to Team Up

By Ben York / @bjyork

LAS VEGAS – Although they didn’t get as much time together on the court as they would’ve liked, the play of Sylvia Fowles and Courtney Vandersloot on an individual basis throughout camp has them eager to take the court with one another.

The next step? Learning to play and mesh together when Sky training camp starts next week.

“It has been great for her,” Fowles said of Vandersloot’s experience at Team USA training camp. “It has given her an opportunity to learn from the best and that will be great for us heading into the season. We haven’t had the chance to truly bond but I think that is what training camp is for.”

The two have a unique opportunity to truly become unstoppable on the offensive end. With Fowles as a force in the paint and Vandersloot pushing the ball on the break, opposing defenses will be forced to pick their poison. The strong play of Sylvia Fowles over the past few days has indicated a glaring need for defenses to double-team her due to her stellar efficiency around the basket. The hope is that Vandersloot will force teams not to just focus on Fowles but also be concerned with players along the perimeter.

“I can’t wait to play with Big Syl,” Vandersloot said at the end of Team USA camp. “I have always wanted to play with someone like her who can score in so many ways and run like she does. Now that I have the opportunity I am beyond excited.”

Team USA head coach Geno Auriemma wasn’t shy in his praise for Vandersloot. Auriemma told reporters that Vandersloot has a quiet confidence in her game and that certainly bodes well for the Sky’s season in 2011.

“I'll tell you what, I must have heard from five or six coaches that watched practice and I'd say 'Who is the most surprising player at practice?' and they would tell you Courtney Vandersloot, every one of them,” says Auriemma. “She's not going up and down the floor going 'I just saw Sue do this, let me try it. I just saw Dee do this, let me try it.' She does exactly what she's good at and she does it well.”

Building that type of chemistry with Fowles will go a long way towards a successful Sky season. After Fowles had the chance to see Vandersloot play first-hand for Team USA, she is anxious to develop that two-man game early on.

“It will be great having a point guard [like Courtney],” says Fowles. “It will give us a lot of options for us as a team, not just for me down low.”

If Team USA training camp is any indication, the presence of Fowles and Vandersloot on the court together will help the Sky in more ways than one. The Sky was 8th in the league in assists per game and 9th in the league in shot-attempts in 2010. One can assume both of those statistical categories increasing with Vandersloot opening up the floor and Fowles getting easier buckets in the paint.

“I think the key is just making sure we figure out how to best fit together,” Vandersloot says. “That includes Shameka [Christon], Epiphanny [Prince], and everyone on the team. I just want to go out there and play to the best of my ability.”

Could Fowles and Vandersloot be the WNBA’s new “Dynamic Duo?” Only time will tell. Still, the anticipation and excitement heading into the 2011 Sky season is like never before.