Istanbul Q&A’s: Hoffman and Sutton-Brown

February 29, 2008
Fever teammates Ebony Hoffman and Tammy Sutton-Brown are sharing distinction in more than one way. On the court, they share time in the post, sometimes shuttling in and out of the lineup for one another and other times playing side-by-side. They also share distinction as having both re-signed free agent contracts with Indiana during the same week, and, perhaps most significantly, they are sharing time as teammates year-round.

There are only a rare few tandems in the WNBA who share teammates during summer and winter seasons. Hoffman and Sutton-Brown are among them, both playing for EuroLeague power Fenerbahce in Istanbul, Turkey, where they team with another American star, Cappie Pondexter of the Phoenix Mercury. Ironically, Ebony played on the same AAU team as Pondexter, and Tammy and Cappie both attended Rutgers University.

Both took time during their travel schedule within the past week to answer some questions for FeverBasketball.com, and each will have a personal blog for Fever fans, as well. It is worth noting that Ebony provides most of the humor, while Tammy provides the history, culture and geography lessons!

[Editor’s note from Tammy, presumably using some sort of wireless handheld device: “I wrote this while on a 3-hour bus ride from Paris to Bourge. Travel can be tedious and it is definitely the part about this job that I am not too fond of.”]

[Editor’s note number two – to credit Tammy, the FeverBasketball.com staff even cross-checked many of her historical and cultural references, and all were 100% accurate, even the spelling! This girl knows her stuff!]

Tammy Sutton-Brown
FeverBasketball.com: What's it been like being teammates with someone overseas, that you know you'll also play with in the WNBA? Give me the good, and the bad!
Tammy Sutton-Brown: “Playing overseas with a teammate from the WNBA is a new thing for me. I have been overseas for seven years now, and this is a first. The benefit of playing with a teammate in both leagues is a great thing because it is natural that the more you play with someone, the more you learn their habits on the court. So, hopefully playing with her over here will carry over to the summer when we are back playing for the Fever.”
FB: Analyze the difference in your teammate's play overseas, vs. with the Fever. Any changes you have noticed in each others' game?
TSB: “Ask a number of WNBA players who have played overseas and they will tell you that because we are brought overseas to help a team, the demands on us are higher than the locals. Seeing that there are, on average, 2 or 3 WNBA players on a team overseas, we are looked to lead. Ebony was not here in the beginning of the season -- she joined our team after Christmas. But what I have noticed is that there is no hesitation in her game, it just flows. If she is open in rotation, the shot is going up (which is exactly what we want over here). And of course, she rebounds well so that is a great asset for our team.”
FB: What is the best part about living in Istanbul?
TSB: “Istanbul is a city that straddles the Bosphorus, so half of it sits on the European side and the other half is on Asia. There is so much to do here. On the European side you can admire the many mosques, enjoy a Turkish bath, take a Bosphorus cruise, or hunt for bargains in the Grand Bazaar, just to give you a few options. The Asian Side, Istanbul’s other half where we actually stay, possesses a separate beauty of its own. Oh and did I mention the shopping over here is pretty nice?? They just built the biggest mall in all of Europe here in Istanbul! [big smile] You know where I spend my days off sometimes!”
FB: What is the most difficult part about living in Istanbul?
TSB: “Going overseas in general is hard because it takes you away from family and friends for long periods of time. And in any country you visit, it will take a little time to adjust and get use to the different cultures and customs. The most difficult part about being here in Turkey, for me, is the fact that in certain parts women are kept under veils depriving them of all forms of liberty, education and employment. They are expected to walk behind their man, and not to raise their voices.”
FB: When was the last time you ate a hamburger? Where and what kind?
TSB: “I believe I had a hamburger about three months ago over here at a restaurant. It was good. At least I think it was a hamburger. LOL”
FB: What is your most common meal while traveling overseas? And what's the best and worst part about that meal?
TSB: “The most common meal when I travel overseas is chicken and rice. The best is when the chicken is roasted with Turkish rice and vegetables, the worst is when the chicken tastes like it was cooked on the same grill as lamb (they eat a lot of lamb over here).”
FB: Favorite landmark in Istanbul? Tell us about it?
TSB: “My favorite landmark in Istanbul has to be Topkapi Palace, it is one of the world’s largest and oldest palaces still in existence today. Following its establishment in the 15th century, this magnificent and mysterious structure became the stage for every detail of the life of the Ottoman Empire. After the declaration of the Turkish Republic, the palace was transformed into a museum.”
FB: Favorite landmark you've discovered this winter outside of Istanbul? Tell us about it?
TSB: “I don't really have a favorite landmark outside of Istanbul that I have recently discovered because we don't do much sight-seeing when we travel on the road.”
FB: What are two things that you would most like Fever fans to know about your months overseas?
TSB: “Playing all year round is not an easy task, and playing overseas is not for everyone. But when you play with great people it makes the experience that much better. Fortunately for me, I have always played with some great people, and this year is no exception. Cappie Pondexter, is not only an exceptional basketball player she is also a great human being. Then you have Ebony Hoffman, or shall I say Cass, her married name? Nah, I think I will stick with Hoffman since that is how ya' ll know her! Ebony is just naturally a good-hearted person, who also happens to be very entertaining, she will always keep you laughing!”
FB: Besides family, friends and, of course, Fever fans(!), what are two things you miss the most about Indianapolis?
TSB: “Besides family, friends, and Fever fans, the things I miss the most about Indianapolis are the Indianapolis 500 and attending Pacers games -- front row of course!” :)
Ebony Hoffman
FeverBasketball.com: What's it been like being teammates with someone overseas, that you know you'll also play with in the WNBA? Give me the good, and the bad!
Ebony Hoffman: “It is a joy to have a familiar face while you're overseas!! And not very many players get the chance to play with their WNBA teammate as well. The good thing is that you get to work on your chemistry on and off the court. Overseas, you get more time to develop the common bond unlike the WNBA we only have a short amount time to find the chemistry and even then we are moving at a break-neck speed!! The bad is that if you potentially don’t get along with the player that you are playing with overseas, and they also are your teammate in the WNBA, then you might just get sick of seeing that face! And believe me, with having two practices a day while you’re abroad, YOU WILL GET SICK OF THAT FACE!!! But Tammy and I don’t have that problem!!” :)
FB: Analyze the difference in your teammate's play overseas, vs. with the Fever. Any changes you have noticed in each others' game?
EH: "Well Tammy's great play is continuing! She is an extremely fast post player which is hard for a lot of international players to guard. She really runs circles around people. But her overall game is much better and extremely dominant – so watch out!!”
FB: What is the best part about living in Istanbul?
EH: “Well to me, it's like New York City. There is a Starbucks on every corner, Pizza Hut, KFC, TGI Friday’s, McDonald’s. It's like America, but it’s not! The shopping is amazing. I almost fell to the floor when i saw a GAP!”
FB: What is the most difficult part about living in Istanbul?
EH: “The most difficult part for me is having to walk up five flights of stairs to get to my apartment! My building doesn’t have an elevator and after that second practice of the day, boy do my legs want to give out! But my BUNS OF STEEL will be the envy of the team when I get back to Indy! Oh yeah, and Tammy doesn’t have the elevator problem that I have!”
FB: When was the last time you ate a hamburger? Where and what kind?
EH: “Tammy and I went to this restaurant called Happy Moon. It’s got a variety of different cuisine, but I chose to order a Spanish burger. I could have sworn that I read the caption which said burger with cheese and some sort of special sauce. But what I got was not a burger! It was nothing more than a Turkish meatball made into a patty, and I think maybe some sort of sandwich meat on top with cheese. It seems that the only thing that was correct was the cheese! As I mentioned earlier, even though we have a Friday’s, the prices are out-of-this-world expensive! It's almost like they are importing the cow and the chicken! It seems to me all that they're doing is using the recipe. But I guess your paying for the American experience --- whatever that is!” :)
FB: What is your most common meal while traveling overseas? And what's the best and worst part about that meal?
EH: “Hmmmmm ... Our coach is cool because he likes to eat, so we have a variety of things while traveling. But his favorite seems to be the Turkish meatballs before games -- which my tongue likes, but my stomach and other parts don't agree with at all! So I have yet to get used to it.”
FB: Favorite landmark in Istanbul? Tell us about it?
EH:“It would have to be The Grand Bazaar. It has everything from the famous Turkish rugs to jewelry. It’s great. They try to get you as a tourist, but they fail to realize that I'm from L.A. -- I know how to bargain! Hahaha.”
FB: Favorite landmark you've discovered this winter outside of Istanbul? Tell us about it?
EH: “I'm not really the sight-seeing type. I can’t think of any right now.”
FB: What are two things that you would most like Fever fans to know about your months overseas?
EH: “I am ready for a championship! Are the fans ready for what is about to take place?”
FB: Besides family, friends and, of course, Fever fans(!), what do you miss the most about Indianapolis?
EH: “American soil! The plane ride back is not nearly as long as the one leaving!”