Big Dog, Big Changes!

June 14, 2006
The Indiana Fever’s Ebony Hoffman began the current 2006 WNBA season a changed player. Not only did the star center improve her game while playing overseas, but she came back to the United States impressively fit.

Hoffman, known since her college days at USC simply as “Big Dog,” dropped 25 pounds in the off season while she played for Polisportiva Ares Ribera, in Sicily – with all that Italian food, how did that weight loss come about?

“I was trying to lose weight but I wasn’t going to go on a crash like a cabbage diet or crazy stuff like that. I just watched what I ate,” Hoffman said.

While Italy is known for its pasta, bread, and other foods filled with carbohydrates, which can be fattening, that wasn’t the only thing Sicily had to offer according to Hoffman.

“Actually everything they eat over there is healthy. Every restaurant has a little garden in the back. They grow all their own vegetables and none of the food is processed. Growth hormones aren’t added to the food like some food here in the United States, and people wonder why kids look like LeBron James at age 7!,” Hoffman quipped. “I beefed up with vegetables and that’s about it,” she said.

One of the main motivations Hoffman had for slimming down was the fact that while she was on the roster last year during the WNBA Playoffs, she didn’t see any action.

“I got to a point where I didn’t ever want that to happen again,” Hoffman said. “I felt like it was saying something about me where Coach Winters didn’t trust me enough to put me in, and that is where I made a commitment to myself that I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”

Compared to last season, Hoffman believes she is a “totally different player.”

“I’m quicker, faster, I’m jumping a lot higher, and I think teams are really going to have to deal with me rather than thinking I am going to be out there just to be out there. You’ve got to deal with me now, so I feel like I am a threat out on the court,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman learned things playing overseas that are beneficial to her now that she is back in Indiana, and playing in the WNBA.

“I learned how to pace myself. As women, we don’t make as much money as the men do in the NBA, so some of us have to compensate our earnings by playing overseas, and by doing that you have to pace yourself. You still go hard but you know how hard to go so you won’t break yourself. Being in good physical condition is the most important part,” she said.

As many Fever fans know, the drastic changes Hoffman has gone through both physically and mentally, are evident on the court. Hoffman is starting every game, and averages 27.1 minutes through Tuesday’s overtime win at New York.

In fact, Hoffman is tied for second in the WNBA in total rebounds (69), and tied for fifth in offensive rebounds per game (2.9). She has made a personal improvement from the past two seasons, where she averaged 2.9 rebounds each year. This year, Hoffman has surpassed that total in every game of the season.

- Rachel Turner