by Jim Hanggi
Take one look around the Lynx practice facility after a practice and you will notice someone getting attention. No, it's not star player Katie Smith or head coach Suzie McConnell Serio. It's 11-month-old Ryann, daughter of Stacey Lovelace-Tolbert.
Stacey, a late roster addition this season, came to Minnesota with not only her hustling play and hard-nosed defense, but also with her adorable daughter and husband, Brian. Her basketball career has spanned from France to Atlanta to Seattle to Massachusetts to Spain to Israel. Finally, she has a place she can call home.
"It has been a really good experience," she says. "In France, I had Ryann with me, but my husband was playing in a different country. So this has been the first time we have pretty much been together for an extended period of time since she was a newborn."
Lovelace-Tolbert played three years in the ABL with the Atlanta Glory and New England Blizzard, averaging 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and was a teammate of Lynx guard Teresa Edwards for two of those seasons. She spent the 2003-04 European season playing for Calais, where she tallied 17.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in 16 French League contests.
One might think it would be difficult for a professional basketball player to balance her time between her career and her family, but that isn't the case with Lovelace-Tolbert. "It has been easy with my husband playing ball overseas in the winter and off in the summer," she said. "A lot of players aren't as lucky as me, with him having all this time off where he can spend some time with the baby."
Lovelace-Tolbert, who helped Purdue reach the NCAA Final Four in 1994, took two seasons off from basketball because of her family commitments. Before that, in a two-year stint with the Seattle Storm (2000-2001), she averaged 3.9 points per game. When she decided to try to get back into the WNBA, Lovelace-Tolbert thought the Lynx would be a great franchise to play for. "I thought I would give it a try with a different organization," she said. "I think this is a really good fit for me."
The 6-4 forward scored nine points — all in the second half — as the Lynx rallied from a 20-point deficit Friday to defeat Phoenix, 61-59. Her first three-pointer of the year came with 14 seconds remaining, pulling the Lynx to within one point, then she knocked down two free throws to give Minnesota the lead for good. Also in that game, Lovelace-Tolbert added a team- and season-high six rebounds. Two days later, she added eight points and five rebounds in the overtime win over Sacramento. Lovelace-Tolbert is averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game over the past three contests, shooting 52.9 percent.
Lovelace-Tolbert thinks there is a lot of potential on the Lynx team, but with all the new faces, it has taken some time to adjust. Ryann took little time adjusting to a new team and city — she is already the most popular person at Lynx practice!
Lovelace-Tolbert photo gallery
Lovelace-Tolbert's WNBA.com playerfile
Stacey answers your questions
May 12: Lynx sign Lovelace-Tolbert
2004 Lynx features archive