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News-Miner: Ruthy Hebard and the Chicago Sky headed for WNBA playoffs

By Julie Stricker

The News-Miner is checking in regularly with former West Valley High School and Oregon Ducks basketball standout Ruthy Hebard, who is spending her rookie year in the WNBA “wubble” in Florida with the Chicago Sky. 

It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of weeks for Ruthy Hebard and the Chicago Sky.

In addition to the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, policeman, which profoundly moved the players in the WNBA bubble, two of Hebard’s Sky teammates also departed the same week.

“It was definitely tough,” Hebard said. “It was not only losing Diamond (DeShields) and Z (Azura Stevens), they both left the bubble but all the things going on outside the bubble like the shooting of Jacob Blake was definitely kind of like a cloud over the bubble. Everyone was talking about it, it was on all the TVs in the lobby, so that was definitely tough.”

The WNBA, as well as the NBA and teams in other professional sports, opted not to play games for a couple of days.

“It was two days where we demanded that people see what’s going on in the world and see that it was wrong,” she said. “It was definitely tough. There were tears shed.

“It was just so hard, for me at least, to be in the bubble when there are so many other things going on outside the bubble. There’s so many people you want to go help. Even just seeing the shooting in that video made me want to go run to my brothers and hug them and hug all my family. I think that was a feeling for the other players too, and not being able to do that was tough for us all.”

The Sky’s bench was already short, and losing DeShields and Stevens on top of the emotions of the week was even more difficult, Hebard said.

“It’s always hard when you lose a teammate, but it’s for the best,” she said. “We all still have their backs and stuff, but when you lose someone it’s just a different feeling on the team.”

By the time the Sky made up the game against the Indiana Fever on Monday, Aug. 31, things were looking up. Hebard found herself among the starters for only the second time this season and she had nearly 30 minutes of playing, pulling in her first professional double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the Sky’s 100-77 victory.

“It was awesome,” Hebard said. “It is my best game so far. I’m happy it came from the start because I think the last time I started I didn’t play as well, so I’m glad I got another chance to start and I definitely think I made the most of it this time.”

In addition to the victory, Hebard’s teammate Courtney Vandersloot set the WNBA assist record, with 18.

“Courtney has always killed it, but yesterday she broke records so it was fun to be able to be a part of that on the court with her,” Hebard said.

After winning four in a row from Aug. 16-22, Chicago has gone 1-4. The Sky, 11-8, is still at the top of the Eastern Conference and won a playoff berth. They have only three more games in the regular season, which ends Sept. 13.

“The rest of our season is going to be some really good games,” she said. “I think we can win most of those and hopefully get a good spot in the rankings in the playoffs and be able to go and make a good run and hopefully win it all.”

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.

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