By Lauren Dalton and Malinda Murray
Tammy Sutton-Brown has had the ball bounce her way several times during her basketball career. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Tammy did not begin playing basketball until the seventh grade. �I was taller than everyone else,� said Tammy. �One day the basketball coach asked me to play. At that time I didn�t know anything about the game, but the coach explained it to me and I began to play right away.�
Tammy quickly became a force on the court helping lead Markham District High School to the regional championship in each of her four years at the school. Colleges in the United States soon began to take notice of Tammy�s talent and she was recruited by several schools. She finally settled on Rutgers University in New Jersey.
While playing at Rutgers University, Tammy had the opportunity to play under one of the most well-known coaches in the country, Vivian Stringer. Coach Stringer and her coaching staff saw incredible potential in Tammy and wanted to help make her into the best player she could be. Under their tutelage, Tammy�s game progressed each season. She was named the Most Improved Player for the Scarlet Knights in each of her first three seasons at the school and culminated her college career by being named the team�s MVP. �Playing at Rutgers was a great experience for me,� said Tammy. �It was there that I learned all about the game from mental preparation to skill work.�
She also was able to become a leader on the court, helping Rutgers to four NCAA Tournament appearances and their first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance in 2000. The progression in Tammy�s game during her college career is best embodied by the nickname given her by her college coaches. Called Simba, after the cub in Disney�s Lion King who transforms from a nieve youngster to a wise leader of the pack, Tammy underwent the same coming of age at Rutgers.
Tammy left Rutgers armed with a firm grasp of the game and an arsenal of skills that provided a foundation for the next stage in her life, a career in professional basketball.
Drafted by the Sting in the second round (18th overall) of the 2001 WNBA Draft, Tammy had an immediate impact in the WNBA averaging 6.8 points, 4.4. rebounds and 1.34 blocks while shooting 49% from the field. She finished the season ranked third among rookies in field goal percentage, blocks and rebounds. More importantly she helped guide the Sting to the Eastern Conference Championship and to berth in the WNBA Finals. During the playoff run, Sutton-Brown started all eight games and averaged 7.5 points while shooting 54.4% from the field.
In 2002, Tammy continued to improve on the court using the success of her rookie season as a stepping stone for greater accomplishments. During her sophomore season she averaged 11.9 points per game and finished the season ranked fourth in the league in field goal percentage shooting an impressive 53.1% from the field. She also achieved one of the highlights of her career by being selected as a member of the 2002 Eastern Conference All-Star Team along with teammates Andrea Stinson and Dawn Staley.
Tammy�s talents and skills have not only enabled her to play professionally in the WNBA but have provided her other opportunities as well. In each of the past three WNBA off-seasons, Tammy has traveled overseas to play basketball. �I have a great time playing out of the country when the WNBA is on break,� remarked Tammy. �I get to meet a lot of great people and live in some pretty neat places.� Some of the places where Tammy has had the opportunity to play include Korea in 2001-02 and Russia during the 2002-03 off-season. This past off-season Tammy returned to Korea where she helped lead her team, the Kumho Life Falcons, to their first WKBL title.
Basketball has also given Tammy the opportunity play on the biggest stage in the world, the Olympic Games. A member of the Canadian National Team, Tammy represented her country in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney where she was her teams� leading scorer (10.3 points) and rebounder (7.3 rebounds). Though Canada did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Greece, Tammy will be rooting for Dawn Staley in the women's basketball competition and for Canada in every other event!
Now in her fourth season in the WNBA, Tammy is once again proving to be an imposing force in the paint for the Sting in 2004 as she is averaging 9.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.16 blocks per game for the team. This season she has set a new career-high in rebounds grabbing 13 boards on June 26 vs. the Fever and recorded a career and franchise high six blocked shots on July 28 at Indiana. She has also become the Sting all-time leader in blocks with 179 career blocked shots. �I try to come in the game now with a lot of control and heart,� said Tammy when asked about her success. �I keep telling my heart that I have to stay strong.�
It is with this type of attitude and determination that will allow Tammy to continue to be a force for the Sting and have the ball bouncing her way for years to come.