Sylvia Fowles: "I'm Very Excited for This Season"

By Ben York / @bjyork

LAS VEGAS - Sylvia Fowles has made up her mind that missing the playoffs is no longer an option.

If you thought she had a MVP-caliber season in 2010, you haven’t seen anything yet.

There is a look of calm determination and stoic poise in Fowles that we haven’t seen before. Don’t get me wrong; the aggressiveness and ferocity hasn’t left her game but there is an added dimension of composed confidence that was palpable throughout Team USA training camp.

“I’m very excited for this season,” says a smiling Fowles. “There have been a lot of changes but I think they all helped improve the team. We’ll have a different look and I want to take us as far as we can go.”

Her footwork in the paint was something to marvel at. Her positioning on defense made it difficult for any opposing player to shoot the ball within six-feet of the hoop. The double-teams she drew on defense made it easy for her to find open teammates along the perimeter.

In a match-up against some of the best defenders in the league today (i.e. Candace Parker), Fowles showed how dominant she can be. In the last scrimmage of the day, she recorded seven points on 3-4 shooting to go along with six rebounds…in just five minutes of action.

Heading into her fourth year in the league in 2011, Fowles is ready to take the next step and help lead the Sky into the playoffs. In fact, it’s the only thing on her mind. The surrounding pieces are there; a stellar young point-guard in Courtney Vandersloot, a lethal scoring machine in Epiphanny Prince, and the ever-consistent Shameka Christon. The familiarity with head coach Pokey Chatman has also helped Fowles focus more on her game and less on the external.

“I have some familiarity with Pokey [Chatman],” says Fowles. “Her hiring will also benefit [Courtney] Vandersloot as Pokey knows how to teach and coach the point guard position. We have a lot of things going for us as a team this year and I’m excited to get started with training camp.”

At Team USA training camp, Fowles didn’t just grab rebounds; she took them away from everyone else. She didn’t just defend the paint well; she dominated it. Rather than hoping she received the ball in the post, she demanded it and delivered. For a player who averaged 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds in 2010 while shooting 58 percent from the floor, Fowles enters 2011 (dare I say) a more complete player all-around.

“I’m looking at the playoffs,” says a motivated Fowles. “That’s where we want to be. This year, with Vandersloot at the point, Epiphanny [Prince] can play more of a shooting guard where she is more comfortable. We’ll have a lot of weapons.

Still, it all starts with Big Syl.

There isn’t an ounce of selfishness in Fowles; everything she does if for the betterment of the team. During breaks in the action at Team USA camp, she was high-fiving her teammates and communicating with rookie Courtney Vandersloot and Shameka Christon as much as possible. She has embraced being a leader and looks to own that role for the Sky in 2011.

“We’ll get better together, as a team,” says Fowles. “I’m just happy all-around. I’m happy we have a point guard and a team that wants to win. It’s going to be a great year.”