World Champ Returns to Indy
Last summer, she was named to the Australian National Team, the first time she was named to represent her country in a World Championships or Olympics. In September, she helped the Aussies to a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In October, she returned to her pro team in the Australian WNBL, the Canberra Capitals, who had won the WNBL title in February 2006 with her and longtime friend Lauren Jackson leading the championship run. Without Jackson this year though, naysayers predicted a dropoff for the Caps. Bevilaqua and former WNBA coach Carrie Graf would not settle for anything less than a title, though, and in February 2007, Canberra won the Grand Final with the tenacious point guard named as Grand Final MVP.
In April, she will return to Indianapolis again – this time with sights set on a third basketball title in 12 months. Besides All-Stars Tamika Catchings and Tamika Whitmore, Bevilaqua will be joined this year by 2002 All-Stars and former Charlotte teammates Sheri Sam and Tammy Sutton-Brown. With perhaps the most star-studded lineup which she has ever played, she has added optimism for her return.
During a break in her schedule, Tully took time from Down Under to answer some questions for FeverBasketball.com.
FeverBasketball.com: You've had quite a whirlwind schedule since you last left Indianapolis - you have won a World Championship while making the Australian National Team for the first time, and three months later you won a second straight WNBL title, but this time without your buddy Lauren Jackson. Have you had a chance to breathe?
Tully Bevilaqua: Yes it's been an extraordinary 18 months for me. It also included a Commonwealth Games gold medal (April ’06) which was special too cause I was able to represent Australia on home soil. After winning the WNBL championship recently with the Caps, I did take some time off (about 3 weeks, I think, before venturing back to the gym). Believe me when you get to my age you can't afford to take too much time off or else it becomes harder to get back up to top fitness.
FB: Since you've had a chance to slow down a bit, what have you been doing since February?
TB: Our season finished on February 17 so since then I haven't really done that much. I went back home to see my family, but apart from that nothing too exciting to report. Unfortunately, I didn't even get out on the golf course so will have to make up for that when I get back to Indy! Watch out for Ebony and me! (Especially Ebony, ‘cause you don't know where she is going to hit the ball or drive the buggy!) :-)
TB: To be honest, I thought we had a pretty strong team for the Worlds but had no idea that we would have gone 9-0 through the tournament. Obviously, the USA team losing to Russia was a bonus for us.
With regards to Canberra, we lost Loz [Lauren Jackson] to the Korean league and our other star center Jenny Whittle to Europe. Graffy did a fantastic job as coach to bring us all together, as we had a few new faces in the fold. We peaked at the right time! But before the season, I was a bit unsure of how we were going to gel, but I was more confident once I started to learn everyone's games and personalities and knew we had a good shot.
FB: What thoughts were running through your head when you were on that podium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and being presented with your gold medal?
TB: Oh my god, what a moment that was! All of my career, I have only watched and wished that one day I would get the chance to stand there and sing our National Anthem. Apparently we were horrendous singers but who cares we weren't auditioning for Idol! It just sends shivers down my spine even thinking and talking about it now. Definitely a moment in my life I will never ever forget.
FB: When you were in Brazil, did you have much opportunity to interact with Tamika Catchings or any of your other former WNBA teammates and rivals?
TB: Unfortunately the USA team wasn't staying in our hotel during the second half of the tournament so it was very difficult to meet up with Catch. I did manage to say “hi” in passing a couple of times. What meant a lot to me was Tamika coming down after our game before we left the stadium to give me a big hug. Her support means a lot to me whether or not we are in the same uniform.
I did however, spend a bit of time chatting with [former Fever star] Jurgita [Streimikyte] who was with the Lithuanian national team and other foreign players who are currently or have played in the WNBA.
FB: What was the greatest satisfaction in winning the WNBL title this year with Canberra? Since it was without the dominant post presence that Lauren provides, and since most people assumed the Caps probably wouldn't repeat - did that give you any added incentive?
TB: For sure, not having Lauren and winning did mean a lot to the team. Let me say first of all, that this is in no way being disrespectful to Lauren. She is the best player in the World and we have had the privilege of her playing with Canberra.
When she left, though, a lot of the media attention was still focused on the Caps without Lauren and after a while it did start to become old. We wanted to start a new identity for the team and I think that nothing short of winning the championship was going to do that. We didn't have a standout player like her, but teams had trouble defending us because we just played great team basketball.
FB: OK, now, you know that the Fever has loaded up its roster for 2007, too. Is Tully Bevilaqua aiming for a sweep of major championships with her second WNBA title, and third major title in 12 months?
TB: Wouldn't that be fantastic if the Fever were to win the 2007 WNBA title?!? With the players that management has recruited there is no reason why we can't, if we put it all together every single time we step out onto the court. It's going to be an exciting season that's all I can say and can't wait for it to start up again!
TB: That would be Tamika Catchings. We have exchanged emails while she has been in Korea recently. You know, just the general “how you going?” and “what are you up to?” Of course there was some Fever talk in there too but that is classified information!! :-)
FB: With the return of all five starters from last year, plus the additions of Tammy Sutton-Brown, Sheri Sam and Ann Strother - as the point guard, what do you expect to be your greatest task in 2007?
TB: I don't think there is anything major that I have to do different than what I have been doing as a point guard. I will continue to get the ball into the right hands at the right time as well as look for my open shot. Obviously I have set myself some personal goals for the season but I will let you know at the end if I have done my job on those or not!
FB: You played with Sheri Sam on the Storm's title team of 2004 – tell us about Sheri's personality. Care to share any funny stories or memorable moments with your former and now new-again teammate?
TB: Sheri (or Ri Ri as I call her sometimes) is a great person and player. I was very excited about seeing her name added to our roster after the dispersal draft. Sheri is a very versatile player and will do anything the coach asks of her in order to win. Stories ... where to start! Only joking. I will save those for another time.
FB: Besides Freddy Fever, what have you missed the most about Indianapolis?
TB: I have missed my bacon, lettuce and avocado bagel from Einstein bagels. Australia isn't big on bagels. Also the shopping! Old Navy here I come! And not forgetting the great people of Indy that I have become such good friends with. See you soon!
FB: Before you left Indy last summer, you celebrated the end of your summer by attending the K.C. and the Sunshine Band concert. If you could attend just one concert next summer in Indy, who would you like to see?
TB: Well, well let me see … I wouldn't mind if ABBA decided to reunite and do a concert in Indy! I would sleep over for those tickets! Hahaha.
FB: Welcome back, Tully!