Whirlwind year no problem for Bevilaqua
In professional sports, when age rises, production usually falters.
But at age 37, Indiana Fever point guard Tully Bevilaqua is having the best year of her career.
After a whirlwind year that featured travel between three different continents, a grueling WNBA season and a silver medal in the Bejing Olympics for Australia, Bevilaqua was tired.
“Last year was just a crazy year,” Bevilaqua said. “All the travel I had to do, going back to Australia during the season, then going to China, then coming back to finish the season, then going back home. I covered a few kilometers.”
On top of the physicality that basketball places on the body, Bevilaqua was mentally worn out. Rest was needed.
“It was much more mental than physical. It was just one of those crazy years,” Bevilaqua said. “I didn’t touch a basketball for at least a good four months. I still kept my physical conditioning at reasonable levels. I’m the kind of person who can’t go two to the three days without some kind of exercise or physical activity. I just got a nice little balance and came back refreshed.”
Bevilaqua also returned to Indiana earlier than she ever had before to get ready for the season.
“I came back in mid-February and pretty much just focused on shooting, working with [Fever assistant coach] Gary Kloppenburg,” Bevilaqua said. “That has been the biggest difference in coming back here. Five days a week, not only my work on the court, but doing strength and conditioning training as well. It’s paid off for me.”
The result has been Bevilaqua’s best statistical career. She is averaging 7.1 points per game and has had seven double-figure scoring games in 25 outings this season, both career-highs for her. By comparison, she had just 15 games of double digits through her last four seasons.
“It’s all about confidence at the end of the day,” Bevilaqua said. “Putting the work in to become confident in that shot is the reason why I’m taking all the open shots. I still give up a few here and there but I’m now taking 99% of the shots that I should be. My teammates are very supportive . Also while I’m knocking them down, it makes it harder for the opposition.”
Bevilaqua has been a key part of the Fever’s rise to the top of the WNBA with a record of 19-6. She came off the bench for the first two games of the season with both resulting in losses. Upon being placed into the starting lineup for the Fever’s third game, the team won 11 straight games. The Fever has won 19 of 23 with her in the starting lineup.
Now nearing the end of the regular season, the Fever has a tough schedule ahead of them. But despite their league-best record, Bevilaqua sees room for improvement.
“We are still playing in patches, playing in moments where we lose focus,” Bevilaqua said. “I just think we need to focus on 40 minutes a game. Hopefully by Finals time we will be more towards the 40 minutes than we are right now. The positive to that is we are still winning even when we have those moments.”
The trust and chemistry with the team have been essential to the Fever’s success.
“We’ve always put ourselves back in the position to win a game,” Bevilaqua said. “That’s the great thing about our team, regardless of whether you are on the bench or on the court you can see that everyone is behind each other.”
Another accolade this came with her selection to the Fever’s All-Decade Team. In fact, she was named to All-Decade teams for the Fever and the Seattle Storm, which were both tabulated by fan voting. When the Fever travels to Seattle on Aug. 22, it will be a special homecoming for the aging point guard who helped the Storm to the 2004 WNBA championship.
“It’s certainly very special,” Bevilaqua said. “I am now part of the record books. But to be on two of them, it’s quite surreal really to think about.”
As a ten-year veteran with one championship ring already, Bevilaqua has had plenty of great moments and highlights throughout her career. But she hopes at the end of this season she adds another one.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Indiana. Playing with the likes of Tamika Catchings is pretty cool for me,” Bevilaqua said. “Hopefully this year, we’ll make another memorable moment.”