Tully and K.B.: Different Players, Same Goals
Tully Bevilaqua is in the ninth year of her WNBA career, and K.B. Sharp is in her fourth. Bevilaqua is a veteran point guard who has won a WNBA, WNBL (in her native Australia) and World titles. Sharp is still a relative newcomer on the WNBA and world scene, and was runner-up for MVP in the French League last winter.
Bevilaqua’s home requires a 12-hour flight from Indy to the other side of the globe. Sharp grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and attended the University of Cincinnati.
Bevilaqua, 34 and enjoying her third Fever campaign, played a career-high 1,000 minutes while starting all 34 games for Indiana in 2006. Sharp, 26 and in her second Fever season, logged just 155 minutes in 26 appearances a year ago, joining the Fever after being cut by the New York Liberty only a year earlier.
Different? Yes. But growing more and more alike.
Thirteen games into the 2007 schedule, the tandem is combining to fulfill similar roles. Bevilaqua still is the seasoned starter known for ball control and her tenacious “D,” but Sharp’s minutes have multiplied to almost 14 per game, and their stats are similar. Bevilaqua averages 4.9 points and 2.6 assists per game, compared to Sharp’s 3.5 and 2.0.
After guiding the Fever to a 10-3 start, both Fever point guards sat down for an informal chat with FeverBasketball.com’s David Hamilton.
David Hamilton: Tully, you and K.B. both share time at the point guard position. What kind of relationship do you guys have on and off the court?
Tully Bevilaqua: “You know, I don’t really like to socialize too much with K.B.! [sarcastic, both laughing] You know, we have a few issues there to deal with. If she’s got to take some of my minutes, it’s o.k. as long as she’s making those threes and getting to the basket!
“No, you know, it’s great. K.B.’s the future of this franchise and stuff. I’m all for us being able to play equal minutes in the game because it means there’s constant pressure out there on the guards or there’s a constant up-tempo game. We don’t get tired because as you said we are playing equal minutes so I think it’s a positive for the team.”
DH: K.B., you’re having a breakout season and improved your averages in basically every major statistical category. What do you attribute to the success you’re having this year.
K.B. Sharp: “Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a breakout season, but I think I just have more confidence. Last year, I learned a lot, and I learned a lot from Tully, and I’m just trying to watch what she does because she’s the one who gets all the energy going. A lot of times you don’t see what she does in the statistics, but she’s the one that gets the crowd going. She’s the one diving on the floor, getting priceless steals. I’m just trying to do what she does and carry that on because that’s what you want your floor leader to do.”
DH: Tully, you were in a similar situation as K.B.’s in 2004 when you played with Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm. You guys ended up winning the championship that year. What did you learn from that experience and how are you using that to help guide the Fever to a championship this year?
TB: “I think the most important thing I learned was that it doesn’t matter how many minutes you play. It’s how effective you are in the time that you have. And I think my role was important to Seattle because I felt like I was able to change the momentum. You know, even one or two minutes when I was with Seattle or just bringing a different type of energy when I was on the court. And I think they really appreciated that little spurt. So I can see how backup point guards think and obviously being a starting point guard I know both mentalities. I can slot into either one. It doesn’t worry me. I can go back to a backup and back K.B. up, and it wouldn’t bother me whatsoever because I’ve been there, done that. I have no problem with it. It’s not how much time you play – it’s about the quality of what you do with the time you’re given.”
DH: And K.B., in what ways has Tully helped you this year in the development of your game and what have you taken away from watching her on the court?
KB: “Just like I said earlier, it started last year and now again this year. It’s a carry over. She’ll come and tell me what she sees. You know, I will tell her maybe what I see. We’re always talking about definitely shooting when we’re open because we know they’re going to double- and triple-team the other players. And we know we have to be ready. And just being leader. I mean, like I said before, all of the things she does don’t show up in the statistics but they’re very important for our team. It’s very important to get our momentum going and the fans going.”
TB: “K.B. and I aren’t the real vocal leaders out there. I mean, we call plays and do some stuff, but in terms of ‘rah-rah’ we’re not so much the vocal people in that regard. We lead from our actions on the court. I think that’s why we can relate a lot to each other because we’re very similar in some of our personality – but I’ve got better personality than her!” [laughing]
KB: “She’s crazier than me.”
TB: “And I can sing better.”
DH: How has sharing time with K.B. helped you stay fresh down the stretch in games to close out an opponent? And how do you think it’s going to help you later in the season and into the playoffs?
TB: “Oh, it’s going to be great! Teams are going to go in with point guards having played 35 minutes for nearly a whole season. We’re going to be coming in like it’s the start of the season because we’re still going to be fresh. As I said before, that’s just a win-win situation for the team. The coaches have that luxury this year to be able to do that.”
DH: What’s the one thing about each others’ games that you like the most or try to emulate when you’re out there on the court.
TB: “I wish I was as fast as K.B. Maybe they can implant some jets into my legs or something like that. K.B. is super quick. Just seeing the way she breaks down the defense’s full-court pressure with her speed. I certainly wish I had some of that in me.”
KB: “For me, I definitely wish I was as good a defender as Tully. I’m gonna try my best, but I just see her out there and she’s stealing the ball from the best players in the league and it’s amazing to me. And I wish I could shoot like her.”
TB: “Booooo, have you seen my percentage from the three-point line??”
KB: “But it’s not all about percentages. She thinks she’s not a good shooter, but she is because whenever they pass the ball out, she’s knocking down the three.”
TB: “K.B.’s the one that went and knocked down those threes in the game against Detroit!”
KB: “Tully, you know what? That’s because we talked about it before, remember?”
TB: “We do. We talk to each other because it’s like, ‘hey, we don’t get many opportunities in the game because we’re getting the ball to the players that need to have the ball to score.’ We know who our number one target is, our number two and three, so we have an understanding on that. It takes away from our offensive game, obviously. But when the ball does come back out to us, we have to shoot the ball. And we need to keep reminding each other that we need to do that.”
KB: “No matter how many we miss!”
DH: One final question for you guys. Tully, when you hear the name K.B. Sharp what do you think of in five words or less?
TB: “Her fro. Have you seen her hair? [all laughing] You have to see this girl with her hair down. Oh my god, it’s like the Lion King! When I think K.B. … I think of her smile because she’s always smiling which is great. She’s someone that loves to have a good time. She enjoys life. And again, I relate to that because life’s all about having fun. So when I think about K.B., it’s smile, the fro, and it’s the little speedster. I’m always having to catch her in practice!”
DH: And K.B., when you hear the name Tully what do you think of?
KB: “When I hear the name Tully, I just start laughing because she’s hilarious. Tons of fun, just a great person, a great teammate, great leader.”
TB: “Good looking, too!” [all laugh]
KB: “O.K., good looking also. Just lots of fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to come into with her being the starter.
DH: Thank you guys.
KB: “Thank you!”
TB: “Thank you!”