With their second pick in the first round of the 2006 WNBA Draft, the Sting took the player many analysts believe to be the best post player in the draft in Tye�sha Fluker. The 6-5 center from Tennessee enters the WNBA coming off her best collegiate season for the Volunteers, in which she averaged 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 54.7 percent from the field as a senior. Tye will be keeping a rookie diary on CharlotteSting.com throughout the season, documenting things she sees both on and off the court in her rookie campaign.
Wrapping Up My Rookie Year
My rookie season was cool. I can�t believe it has passed so quickly. I learned a lot of different things over the past few months, and I�ve also learned what I need to do in the offseason to improve. I�ve made myself a part of the team here in Charlotte, and I was able to fit in well. It wasn�t that long ago that I was playing in the NCAA tournament with the University of Tennessee, but I have grown and matured so much since then.
I�ve learned a lot from the Sting veterans about basketball, but also about the business of the WNBA and professional basketball in general. This is the first time that I�ve had to deal with the business side of basketball, and I�m still trying to understand everything. It�s an ongoing process that will continue into next year.
I think when I come back next season, I will be more relaxed and comfortable with my place on the team. That should translate into stronger performances on the court. The year of experience that I have will help, and I will be able to focus solely on playing my best.
I�m going to France in the offseason to play and work on my game. The team that I will be playing for, Arraz, is in North France, about an hour-and-a-half away from Paris. I�ll be gone until April, so I�ll spend over six months overseas, which will be a great experience. I can�t wait to see all the attractions of a different country, as well as play with some of the best basketball players in the world.
I don�t know of any other WNBA players on my team, but some of my teammates will be close by. Ayana (Walker) will be playing in France, so we�ll probably play each other some during the season. Allison (Feaster) is playing in Spain, but she will play against teams in France, so I�ll get to see her some as well. I�ll see Americans while I�m over there, but I am excited about immersing myself into the French culture.
Before I go overseas, I am taking a much-needed vacation. I�m going home on August 20, and then I�m taking my mom, sister and three little cousins to San Diego. We�re going to go to the Wild Animal Zoo and SeaWorld, which will be fun and relaxing.
Next season I won�t be a rookie anymore, which will be a nice change from this season. While it is an amazing accomplishment to finally be playing in the WNBA, being a rookie is frustrating. You have to listen not only to your coaches, but also to the veterans on the team. Whenever there is a line for something, you automatically have to go to the back. But I have learned lessons that I plan to teach next season�s rookies. You have to come in open-minded without any expectations. The biggest piece of advice I have is to take everything in stride, and never give up on yourself.
My biggest accomplishment of the season was actually making a WNBA team. I made it, and I�m here to stay. It�s a dream come true for me, so to actually be here and be successful is an awesome feeling. But I know I still have so much work to do.
This is only the beginning. Thanks for all your support this season, and I�ll see you all next year!
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 8:36 a.m. 8/15/06
Getting Back On The Right Track
After winning four straight games, losing two in a row was extremely disappointing for our team. Our winning streak showed us that we could play team basketball and be successful, but unfortunately we didn�t get the results we wanted in our last two games. At least we kept fighting until the end and had a chance to win both games in the final minute.
We still have a chance to make the playoffs, so we have to keep fighting for wins each time out on the court. We have to get back to what we were doing right after the All-Star break. In the past two games, we haven�t rebounded well or played strong defense, and you can�t win games without that. But we are working at getting back on the right track.
When we played Minnesota, we faced Seimone Augustus, one of the top guards in all of women�s basketball. Even though she is a rookie, she is second in the league in scoring, averaging 22.5 points. Playing against her wasn�t anything new to me because I�ve played against her so many times, but she is always amazing to watch. Our teams met regularly when we were in college, and I also played against her in high school at AAU tournaments.
Obviously I see my Sting teammates all the time at practices and games, but I also hang out with them off the court. In our free time, we try to relax as much as possible since we are usually so busy. My boyfriend lives in Charlotte, so I see him all the time, too. Alex Fuller, my teammate at UT, has been here some this summer as well. She still plays for UT, so she has been in Knoxville taking summer school classes, but one time when she was home I went to her family�s house and ate dinner with them.
Last week I visited some patients at Presbyterian Hemby Children�s Hospital and it was a lot of fun. I love being involved within the community, and it�s always good to brighten up a child�s day. I talked to the kids, signed autographs and tried to make them forget about their illness for a little bit. I know that these children and their families look up to us, and I really appreciate that. I try to be a positive role model and do everything I can to make them smile.
I can�t believe my rookie season has passed so quickly. We only have three home games left, so be sure to come out and support us!
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 4:04 p.m. 7/26/06
Winning The Best Feeling
Since we are on a four-game winning streak, things have been a lot of fun lately. It�s great that our team is coming together and playing solid team basketball. We aren�t out of the playoff chase yet. We are trying to catch Washington, and they are four games ahead of us. So we just have to keep winning, and hope that Washington loses a few games.
Making the playoffs would be a big accomplishment considering the way that we started the season. I played college basketball at Tennessee, so I�m not used to losing, but no one on the Sting likes to lose. So we�re going to give it all we have for the last few weeks of the season. Everybody seems to be in a better mood lately, so hopefully it will continue.
Thursday�s Camp Day game was a lot of fun. We always try to get a win for our fans, and it was great to have a lot of kids show their support. The kids cheered us on all game, which helped a lot. They never gave up on us, even when Seattle made good plays. I think we fed off their energy, and it helped us get the win.
We�ve had a lot of games lately, so I haven�t had much free time. But I have gone shopping some, which is still one of my favorite things to do. I bought a new computer the other day, a Sony Vaio, so I am excited about that.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 8:32 p.m. 7/21/06
Break Was Great
My break was wonderful. I got to spend time with my family and went out and got them all some things. I basically went on a shopping spree with my family -- it was fun.
I was in California, so I did not have the opportunity to come to the arena and workout over break. I was with my family and visiting everybody I haven�t seen in a long time. I got to see faces I haven�t seen in like four years, so it was a good two days with family and friends.
Sadly, I was unable to watch the All-Star game because I was caught in the airport all day. I waited two hours in Sacramento and then got stuck in Chicago for three or four hours.
But when I heard about it, I was very excited. I talked to my mom and she told me one of my teammates was playing. I didn�t know because I wasn�t with the team when they left (Sacramento) and Tan(gela Smith) was picked. So I was excited to hear about that. I was excited for her when I saw her yesterday and just congratulated her on making the All-Star team.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 12:37 p.m. 7/14/06
Celebrating the Fourth
I�m really excited for the fourth of July, but I don�t have any plans. I�ll probably just hang out and probably come in and do some cardio. I�ll find something to do -- someone has to be cooking.
In California during the Rose Bowl they have a fireworks show � I would usually go to that as a child and in high school. Once I actually went in and watched the concerts that were going on, but the fireworks show is the best thing. Sadly, I haven�t been able to go in awhile.
I don�t know if it�s legal to set off fire works in North Carolina, but if it is I�ll have a bag full. I�m a big kid when it comes to fireworks and the fourth of July, but I�m always scared because I don�t want to get burned. I just try to have fun. All I need is a bag of fireworks and a match and I�m good.
Even though we lost, the game against Sacramento was great. I liked that we showed that we wanted to win the game. We didn�t play well the whole 40 minutes, but we had a spurt there where we showed that we really cared and that we wanted to win. That makes it easier when you lose because it shows that the people around you want to win. It�s hard when you think no one cares and we hold our heads down, but when you see the fight in everyone�s eyes and everyone cheering, it makes it easier to cope with the losing.
I think I played aggressive. I tried to bring energy from the bench and I tried to help my team out with the defense. I was out there screaming for our shooters. By just playing hard and with energy I was able to come up with some good defensive stops.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 9:46 a.m. 7/3/06
Getting Used To The Open Road
We are in the middle of a four-game road trip, and it has been a long trip. I can�t wait to get back. I like the freedom we have though. I get to see and do things in the cities we visit. I wasn�t able to do that in college because we were always stuck in our hotel rooms.
We have a lot of down time, and I like to use that to catch up on my rest. I sleep pretty well in hotels, so I�ve adjusted pretty well to not sleeping in my own bed.
When we were in Houston, we went to the Galleria Mall and I watched my teammates spend $1200 on a bag and thought how that will be me in couple of years, able to spend $1200 without even thinking about it. While they were busy spending $1200, I was spending $20 on tank tops.
In Detroit, my boyfriend�s mother, who lives in Flint, came down to the game. My aunt and little cousin also came to the game, so I had some familiar faces in the crowd.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 10:21 p.m. 6/26/06
Playing Without Veterans A Challenge
With the injuries to Tammy-Sutton Brown and Helen Darling, I�ve received much more playing time lately. I feel like I�ve had to go out there and help my team in any way I can. I�ve been trying to grab some rebounds, have a post presence and score. But overall, I just don�t want to make any mistakes to hurt the team.
The two injured players are leaders for us, so while they are not on the court with us, they are still in our ears. Especially Tammy. While I�m on the bench, she tells me things that I should watch for, so when I go in the game I can try and work on those things. They are constantly in my ear, trying to help me while I�m out there on the court.
I think we can do better as a team, even though we don�t have our leaders, Helen and Tammy. We have to know that we can play and just have them as bench leaders. We just have to believe in ourselves and have our confidence built in practice so we can play without these great two players that are out right now.
Individually, I want to change a couple of things in my game -- like not missing assignments. I missed a box out assignment and I didn�t push out one time, so I just want to play a solid game and not make any mistakes the next time around.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 8:23 p.m. 6/19/06
Reward In The Children's Faces
This Saturday I participated in the ImaginOn�s Hot Diggidy Dog Reading Program and it was so much fun. When I came, the children were signing up for the summer reading program and I found out meeting me was one of their prizes.
I played basketball with the children and there was a goal that if you made a shot you�d get an autographed card, and if you made a shot over me, you would get an autographed ball. It was really cute watching the children shoot the ball.
I just had fun hanging around the children -- there were a couple rowdy kids, who really enjoyed themselves. And everyone was also excited to find out they received free hot dogs.
I enjoy children -- I enjoy being around them, you know, making there day. One girl said she never met a famous basketball player before. I don�t think I�m famous, but it was cute to see their reaction towards me.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 10:08 p.m. 6/12/06
First Road Trip An Interesting Experience
A lot has happened since I last logged an entry here. We took the week between games to try and get focused. They gave us a couple of days off, and we came back in here and worked hard. We came up short in our last couple games against Connecticut. It wasn�t an easy task to take on the Eastern Conference champs in back-to-back games after having the week off. They got us the first game, and then we went back and played them tight in that first half. That was good for us to let us know that we can play with a team of that caliber. We had an unfortunate third quarter that cost us the game, like it has in previous games. If we just come and bring it every quarter, we�ll be alright. We know we can play like we did in the first half every night if we just commit to it.
Now we have to re-focus, come in here and keep having days like we had Monday � working hard and cleaning up stuff in practice, not just waiting until the games to try and fix things. We have to do it every day in practice, and I think we all have been making a concerned effort in trying to better things, and I expect things to improve.
As far as my game goes, I think I�m coming along. I have things to work on, like everybody � making sure I box out all the time. Offensively, I�m getting a feel for it. I had a couple good opportunities to score the last game and just have to keep working hard at it so when those opportunities come, I can knock down the shots.
Travel in the WNBA is� different. It�s not the charter flights to the game and right after the game. It�s a flight and I don�t have to pay for it, so I�m happy. I�ve heard we take some early flights from time to time, but we haven�t had them that early yet. Our flight out of Connecticut was at Noon and I got an exit row without any of the veterans taking it from me, so that worked out well.
This trip was fun because they had a good casino in Connecticut. Unfortunately I lost $35 and I quit. I played one Wheel of Fortune slot game and won $10, so I was like, �I�m good.� Then I went and lost $25 on roulette and followed that up by losing another $20 on the slots. That was it for me. Hopefully I�ll have better luck next time. But it was fun to have that off time to relax, get my mind off basketball and get to know my teammates. I spend some quality time with the other post players up there. We went to dinner and watched them gamble away all their riches, but it was good for us to get the chance to hang out together off the court.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 9:15 a.m. 6/6/06
What A First Week
My first official week in the WNBA has been a learning experience. It was really fun to get in there on Tuesday and play against Lisa Leslie and the Sparks. Then on Thursday, I got to go head-to-head with DeLisha Milton-Jones.
Those nights were both special to me because I grew up watching both of them, being from LA -- well from Pasadena -- and I used to go to all the Sparks games and got to see them play all the time. I grew up watching them, and then to actually get to play in a game against both of them -- it was real cool. I�m out here mixing it up with people I use to watch play, and it�s a good feeling.
But an even better feeling was getting that first win of the season over the Mystics. I think we just kept it together as a team. We just kept fighting and didn�t let up in any quarter.
In our first game (against Chicago), it was the turnovers that did us in, and in the second game it was our rebounds and a bad third quarter. But we played a more complete game against Washington and came away with the win. Hopefully we�ll keep this going now.
As far as me personally, I just want to get in there and grab more rebounds, be more of a low-post presence and be able to offer scoring when I come in and sub in for Tammy (Sutton-Brown). I just want to be an all-around team player. For the most part, I want to go in, have a presence inside and keep the level of play up to where it was.
I�m feeling more comfortable every game and can�t wait for our next one on Thursday against Connecticut.
If we cut that down and play some team defense, there�s no telling whether that game would have been a different story -- or what we�re capable of from here on out.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 9:28 p.m. 05/30/06
An Opening Night To Remember
Wow, what a first game -- it was really exciting!
Everything was exciting to me, from Tan�s free throws, to Sam�s three, to LaToya�s almost-game-wining shot. When we finally got in front of them (the Sky) when Bond made that shot, the bench was ecstatic. I thought we were going to win the game -- sometimes you have those games where you can come from behind and win. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
As a team though, we just have to work harder and get better every day, but we definitely worked hard throughout the game. It was also fun and exciting to get out there and get some minutes.
That 18-0 run was amazing. I don�t remember a time where we came back in any game I�ve played in my career, where we were down by so much. But in Saturday�s game, we just kept fighting, and fighting, and fighting and getting our hands dirty. It was so exciting to watch.
It�s great to see that people stayed and supported us through our ups and downs in the game. I�m glad they could enjoy that moment of us coming back and having the opportunity to win the game -- that was awesome! The fan support is really good here, so I�m excited that we have that. I love the fans!
Saturday�s game was a lot different from the preseason games. I think we are playing together. We just have things to work on, as any team does, but I think our energy and effort is a lot better and we started playing together.
We really showed what we were made of in the fourth quarter, because we had 27 turnovers and still had the ability to win the game.
If we cut that down and play some team defense, there�s no telling whether that game would have been a different story -- or what we�re capable of from here on out.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 4:30 p.m. 05/22/06
Recognizing What Is Important
On Friday I attended my college graduation (at the University of Tennessee). I was so excited that (Sting General Manager) Trudi (Lacey) and (Head Coach) Muggsy (Bogues) let me go! I did miss the preseason game on Friday in San Antonio, but there are some things you cannot miss. You only graduate from undergrad once. After working hard for four years, it�s great to feel that emotion from friends and family. It was a good time for me.
In my immediate family, I am the first to graduate from a four-year college, so I am thankful I could make my mom, aunts, uncles and my sister proud. They all came to support me -- it was a joyous event! It was so exciting to walk across the stage and see my mom and everybody in the stands screaming and all excited for me. I was happy the whole day -- I had nothing but smiles.
Now that I�m back though, I have to get ready for the regular season. I�m really excited for all of these games because now they are about to count and go on our record. I�m going to have so much fun, but it�s also going to be a learning experience. I can�t wait to take in a lot of information and improve on my game.
We have a lot of practices coming up to get ready for this first game. I think we are gelling more as a team -- we are getting that chemistry. It�s more fun every day that we come in here, and we�ve been working hard!
I would say I feel comfortable on the team now. I�ve been able to get out there and play a little bit and bang on the post and everything. I just need to get a couple of games and minutes under my belt to help work on my confidence. I just want to let them know that I�m here -- I can play at this level. So it�s been a fun experience these three games that I got to play in. I can�t wait to kick off the season!
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 1:55 p.m. 05/16/06
Welcome To The WNBA
Well, Wednesday was my first WNBA game in Houston, and it was beyond exciting. When the game started, I was looking to my left and my right and Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley were all out there. I was just like �Okay, where am I? I�m running with Olympians,� but it was cool! I don�t really have words for it even though it was just a preseason game. After a couple times up and down (the court), I realized I could play out here.
It was really exciting, but I had a foul day. I was fouling everybody. So I learned what I can and can not do. After watching film, I realized exactly what I was doing, so it was a learning experience. I just need to try to foul less so I can stay on the floor a little longer. I think I did a good job, but I have to work on some defensive things I got to see on film.
Overall, I think the experience was good. I talked to (assistant coach) Shelly (Patterson), and we talked about fouls before the game and how I would get some fouls because I am a rookie. The thing I noticed was how I initiated the foul.
I�ll tell you what though, I knew I was at the professional level when I went to do the jump ball and Michelle Snow kind of held my arm down a little bit in the jump. I was just like, �Yep, this is the pros.�
I know Snow from Tennessee days. I didn�t get a chance to play with her, but I played against her when I was at elite camp. Then my freshman year we had an exhibition game against one of her teams she had been playing for, so I got a chance to play against her before. She�s a great player, but I knew when I was in the league when I received a couple elbows and didn�t get a call. It was cool, though. It was exciting to just know that I�m here now.
-- Tye�sha Fluker | 8:00 a.m. 05/09/06