Tully Bevilaqua Q&A

Indiana Fever point guard Tully Bevilaqua has retired from the playing ranks of her native Australian Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), but she is beginning training for the 2009 WNBA season! She has completed 10 WNBA seasons and began preparing in late November for her 11th, and what will be her fifth season in a Fever uniform.

Tully, who debuted in the WNBA in Cleveland in 1998, has played nine straight seasons since landing with the Portland Fire in 2000. She won a title as a reserve guard in Seattle in 2004, and after signing a free agent contract with Indiana in 2005, she has become a three-time WNBA All-Defense selection. The 5-7 Bevilaqua knows her years of service as a pro basketball player won’t last forever, but she has managed to turn her “role player” status into a starting, and starring, role.

She recently took time to answer some questions for FeverBasketball.com.

FeverBasketball.com You're not playing the Australian WNBL this season. How often do you wake up and it hits you that you're really not playing this season?
Tully Bevilaqua: “To be honest I don't wake up feeling like I am missing something right now, which tells me I made the right decision to have an extended break this year. I've been going at it for a long time without a proper rest in between seasons, and this year was very demanding with the Olympics thrown in and all the extra traveling I had to do.”

“I will start training with my former club the Canberra Capitals in the very near future and work out with coach Carrie Graf.”

FB: I know that you are broadcasting a bit in the WNBL. How else are you passing your time?
TB: “I am enjoying my dalliance with the media and hope to do more once I do retire down the track. Apart from that I am playing a lot more golf and am just about to finally get my handicap.”

“I have started up training in the gym again, and like I said, will be getting back on court very soon. Throw in some appearances here and there and my day gets full pretty quickly.”

FB: Does being away from playing make you miss it? Or, are you actually glad to have a break from playing? Or, does it whet your appetite to return and play next summer?
TB: “Having a break has actually whetted my appetite to get back into things. I feel like I am not ready to retire and have more to give. Now feeling fresh again, I will be ready to go come May next year in whatever capacity I am required!!”
FB: If we can be so bold as to ask, have you thought about how many more seasons you might play in the WNBA?
TB: “You are so bold! … Well, given I said I was retiring like 5 or 6 years ago, who knows how long I will keep going. Seriously, I just take it year by year so all I can confirm is that I would like to go for one more.”
FB: I know there are dozens, but describe your top three favorite moments in the WNBL.
TB: “My top three moments in the WNBL would be my first and second championships with the Canberra Capitals. Third, is the game that was dedicated to my retirement last year and my teammates warmed up with t-shirts with my name on it and I was given a great ovation from the fans.”
FB: Let's take a step back in time. You won the 2004 WNBA title with the Storm, then signed with the Fever as a free agent. When you signed that contract, did you ever imagine that you would be a starter for the next four seasons in Indiana, earn three WNBA All-Defense honors and play in the Olympics?
TB: “No way did I ever expect any of that to happen. When I first signed with Indiana there were no expectations by myself to start, or for however many minutes I would play, it just turned out that way. To then be honored with those awards just blew me away, given how many great players there are in the league.”

“The Olympics was the icing on the cake in regards to my career and I have so many great memories from it. I never take anything for granted.”

FB: Looking back on your Olympics experience last August, besides standing on the medal stand, can you recount your top 2-3 memories from Beijing?
TB: “My first memory was when we went to the Australian clothing headquarters to receive all our Olympic gear and make sure the sizes were correct. I started crying when I was trying on my ceremony outfits as it really hit me that I had finally made it.”

“My second vivid memory was when my Mum and Dad arrived and I looked up at them in the stands with the Australian cheer squad shirts on waving at me. Another teary moment!!”

“Last, once the disappointment of the final game was wearing off, I cherished my silver medal and had a great night celebrating it and all that it represented for me.”

FB: What is Tully's take on what the Fever need to do to return at least to the Eastern Conference Finals?
TB: “The Fever need to get some attitude. With some of us it's not a strong characteristic but we have to find a way to bring that out of us and onto the court. We've been to the conference finals way too often to not come away with our goal. It’s time to change that.”
FB: Your physical stature does little to suggest to someone on the street that you are a pro basketball player. What is the best part and worst part about often going unnoticed in a crowd, even if it's two blocks from Conseco Fieldhouse?
TB: “You got that right! The first thing anyone generally says to me when I tell them I am a pro b'baller is ‘but you're too short!’ The best thing is that you can go about your daily business without any interruptions. I can't say there is a worst part to that!
FB: For a basketball fan that has never seen you play the game, how do you describe your game? And, part two of this question, how do your explain your remarkable rise from "relative unknown" to being a significant player on the world's biggest women's basketball stage?
TB: “If you had never seen me play you will quickly figure out that I am a blue collar worker and will do anything, which includes inflicting physical pain on myself, for the good of the team. :-) “

“I can't really explain how I have come to be where I am today on the basketball stage. I guess I represent hope for those that aren't as skilled, that with hard work and making the most of what you can do well, can still lead to international success. You can make a career out of being a role player.”