"Yo" Knows Basketball
Rookie point guard Yolanda Paige has played in 11 games for the Fever so far this season. As a senior at West Virginia, Paige led the NCAA in assists per game and was selected by the Fever in the second round of the 2005 WNBA draft. She recently sat down with Fever website contributor Joe Gombach to discuss her experience as a rookie in the WNBA and her transition from college to the professional level.
Fever Website: What was your first reaction when the Fever selected you in the draft?
Yolanda Paige: “I was excited. I was the first person to get drafted out of the Big East, so that was the most exciting part.”
FW: You’ve been playing basketball for about nine straight months now between the college season and the WNBA season. How do you keep yourself in good mental and physical condition?
YP: “It’s not wearing on me because it’s my rookie year. Coming from college, the WNBA is a lot different. It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been playing that long.”
FW: What’s the biggest difference in your life now as professional athlete versus your life as a student athlete at West Virginia?
YP: “It’s not as stressful now as a pro athlete. You don’t have to worry about homework or waking up early to go to class. There’s more freedom. When you travel for away games, you can go out and eat where you want. In college you have to stay with your team all the time.”
FW: What is it like playing in the larger NBA arenas instead of college arenas?
YP: “I like it. It’s really different. I like it a lot. There are a lot of people. The crowds are really big.”
FW: As a player, what kind of effect do the larger crowds have on you?
YP: “It’s really exciting. It’s like a dream come true.”
FW: What part of your game have you worked on the most since joining the Fever?
YP: “Probably shooting.”
FW: How has playing with the older veterans benefited you?
YP: “It’s helped my game out everyday in practice. It’s really improved my offense and defense. I really feel like I’ve gotten better on both sides.”
FW: What has been your most memorable moment so far with the Fever?
YP: “When Tan White forgot her ID going through the airport.”
FW: What happened? Would they not let her through security?
YP: “She had to go back to the van [that took us to the airport]. All the veterans kept messing with her afterwards. They teased her and kept saying, ‘Oh you rookies are always causing problems!’”
FW: Is there any team in the league that you especially enjoy playing against?
YP: “I like playing against Washington because it’s near my home.”
FW: What city do you enjoy traveling to the most?
FW: What did you think of the Mall of America when you went to Minneapolis this past weekend?
YP: “It was nice. It was the biggest mall I’ve ever been to in my life. I guess that’s why it’s called the Mall of America! [Laughing]”
FW: Did you buy anything?
YP: “No I didn’t buy anything, except some candy.”
FW: What do you like to do for fun when you’re on the road?
YP: “I like to go out and see different things. I like to check out the scenery and go places I haven’t been before.”
FW: Of the new places you’ve traveled to this year, what was the most interesting?
YP: “California was really different. I had never been there before.”
FW: What do you like to for fun when you’re in Indianapolis?
YP: “Sit on my couch at home . . . or sleep! [Laughing] One or the other.”
FW: How has your experience been in Indianapolis?
YP: “It’s not bad. I still have a lot more places to see and learn about. “
Story by Joe Gombach