Sylvia Fowles Q&A
Very quietly the Chicago Sky are off to the best start in franchise history at 2-1. And very quietly Sylvia Fowles has become a force in this league. On Sunday, the second-year player collected her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds, leading Chicago to a statement win over Seattle.
It's odd to think that a 6-6 center can sometimes be overlooked, but there are a few reasons for this. For one, Fowles entered the league the same time as Candace Parker, who just might be the most highly-touted women's basketball prospect ever. Second, Fowles' rookie season was marred by a knee injury that forced her to miss half the year. And third, as Fowles admits, she's a pretty mellow person.
Fowles about these topics and more recently with WNBA.com's Mark Bodenrader.
WNBA.com: The Sky are off to a great start this season with a 2-1 record. Can you talk about the way the team is playing so far in the early part of the season?
FOWLES: “Our first game against Minnesota was a wake-up call for us. It knocked us back to reality to let us know that we always have room for improvement. We try to get off to a good start offensively, but I think our defense sets the tone for us. If we get off to a good defensive start I think our offense always falls into place.”
WNBA.com: You guys had a big win over Seattle on Sunday. How important is it to beat a team like the Storm that has established veterans and is a perennial contender?
FOWLES: “It means a lot. At the same time you can’t take anything away from Seattle because they are a great team. It was just something we had to do as a team. We had to lock in and be focused mentally, and go out there and just try to put it together out there on the court.”
WNBA.com: You yourself are off to great start to the 2009 season. What did you learn from your rookie season and what did you work on to improve your game heading into this year?
FOWLES: “Well, I didn’t really play much my rookie season (laughs), but having the opportunity to play with Lauren Jackson, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird in Russia (for Spartak Moscow Region) helped me a lot. Just them staying in my ear and telling me what I need to do and how I need to do it and it kind of carried over into this season.”
WNBA.com: As you just noted, you didn’t play much in your rookie WNBA season because of a knee injury. What was that experience like having to be on the sidelined for a good chunk of your rookie campaign?
FOWLES: “Oh, man. That was tough because I had a lot of expectations to come out and do what I had to do. It was kind of a bummer to get hurt and miss games throughout the season, but at the same time my mom always says, ‘Things happen for a reason.’ I’m a big believer in that so I’m going to come out strong this season and make it my rookie year.”
WNBA.com: Even though you had the injury issues in 2008, you were able to take part in the Olympics in Beijing. It seemed that’s when a lot more people started to notice of your talents. Was that a turning point for you and can you talk about being a part of that team?
FOWLES: “I don’t think our Olympic team could have played any better. Just to have the opportunity to play with some of the veterans that we had, from Lisa Leslie to Tina Thompson to Katie (Smith) to Sue (Bird) to Diana (Taurasi), DeLisha (Milton-Jones)… you learn a lot because you surround yourself with the best and you go over there and compete with the best of the best. And I think that was the turning point for me because I had the post players like Lisa to help me out more often.”
WNBA.com: Candace Parker was one of your teammates over there as well. You guys both entered the league last year and were compared a lot. Do you think that this year you’ll be able to get away from that and start making your own career path, or do you feel that your careers will always sort of parallel each other?
FOWLES: “I think I’ll always be compared to her because we’re too big bodies that can do many things that normal big people can’t do. But it is what it is. I have no problem with it. I’m just being me. I’m going to go out and play the best way that I can and do what I have to do.”
FOWLES: “Erin’s got a lot of leadership qualities. She gets you involved a lot. Kristi is still learning, but at the same time she’s a guard who knows how to get the big person involved. So I’m very happy that we have them here because if I get the ball then I’m happy.”
WNBA.com: In your one-plus seasons in the league what have you learned from the Chicago coaching staff and how have they made you become a better player?
FOWLES: “They are always on me. Coach (Steve) Key is a more laid-back person and he can relate to me on a one-on-one level because I’m somewhat mellow I guess. But (assistant coach Stephanie White) is always on me, day in, day out. Even when I do stuff well, good is never good enough for her. But them getting on me just makes me a better person, which I like. But at the same time being a player you don’t want to hear half the stuff half the time.”
WNBA.com: I want to get your thoughts on the East this year. Everything has sort of been flipped upside-down with the non-playoff teams from last year at the top of the standings. What are your thoughts on the East and the way it has played out so far?
FOWLES: “It’s just harder in general. Besides the rosters getting cut down I think everyone is hungrier this year. It’s going to be tougher competition. Everybody is going to bring it every night. There isn’t an easy game. Nobody has a team you can relax on. You have to bring it or you’re going to get beat.”
WNBA.com: I’m sure by now you’ve heard about Bill Laimbeer resigning as head coach and general manager of the Detroit Shock. What effect do you think this will have on the balance of power in the East?
FOWLES: “Detroit is a powerhouse team. They have all the tools that they need. With him stepping down I don’t think it’s changed them because he wasn’t out there playing for them. I think that they are going to come together and they are going to have a lot to prove. Just because their coach is leaving it doesn’t mean anything.”