Fowles leads Sky in home opener

If Sylvia Fowles was in “beast mode” on Friday night, she must have been in “fluffy little kitty cat mode” last weekend.

“Sylvia Fowles will be judged this season on how much of a beast she can be inside,” Chicago Sky coach Pokey Chatman, who coached Fowles in college at LSU, told me during the preseason. “I've told her, ‘If you knock someone down, it's OK if you don't help them up. It's OK to be a little mean.'”

“Big Syl” played like it: big, letting her inner beast roar in the Sky's 78-75 victory in its home opener against the Connecticut Sun in front of 6,609 at Allstate Arena. It was a complete 180-degree turnabout from her previous attempt at all-out “beastiness.”

Six days ago, Fowles scored 10 points and hit all but 1 of her shots in the Sky's season-opening loss to Indiana. The problem was, she took only 5 shots and was missing in action on many possessions.

Against the Fever, Fowles wasn't demanding the ball and seemed passive when she did get it, anxious to pass out of non-stop double teams.

Against the Sun, Fowles was completely different.

She pushed and shoved her way around the paint and past the double teams for a game-high 23 points to lead the Sky to a gritty, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat victory.

The Sky, which got double-figures out of four of five starters, including 18 points from rookie point guard Courtney Vandersloot, pulls to 1-1 on the season heading into today's road game against the Washington Mystics.

“This (the intensity and aggressiveness) was good. It was something that I was definitely missing since I got here to Chicago. I kind of got away from it and maybe that's because I kind of got away from Pokey,” Fowles said. “But she's retraining me back into that ‘beast mode.'”

Clearly, Fowles' evolution was still a work in progress in Indianapolis last weekend.

Not only was she quiet on the offensive end, she also wasn't much of a factor on the boards (7 rebounds) or defensively.

Against the Sun, Fowles emphatically controlled the boards and finished with 13 rebounds. She also had 3 blocks, 2 coming at a pivotal point in the second half. The Sun was trying to tie the game in the waning seconds in the third quarter but was denied twice in row by Fowles and her interior partner in crime, 6-foot-6 forward Michelle Snow (12 points, 2 blocks).

On top of that, Fowles owned Sun center Tina Charles (8 points. 4 rebounds). And by the way, Charles isn't easy to stop. She was the WNBA's rookie of the year last year, led the league in rebounding and recorded 22 double-doubles.

“I was disappointed (after the Indiana game),” Fowles said. “All that time, all those hours we put in, and you go out there and just (do nothing).

“I will most definitely be this way for the rest of the season. I mean, (the coaches) will probably get mad at me every once in awhile because I might help someone up. That's just me. But I will definitely stay in tune to my ‘beast mode' this year.”

Michelle Snow, back, reacts after teammate Epiphanny Prince scored while being fouled against the Connecticut Sun Friday in Rosemont. Associated Press