Fowles takes timeout, talks hoops
It's been only about two months since the Chicago Sky played its last game of the 2010 season, but so much has already changed.
Head coach and general manager Steven Key resigned after failing for the third straight season to steer the Sky to the playoffs.
And team president Margaret Stender, the face of the team since its inception in 2006, slid over to more of a consulting role as team chairwoman, and executive Adam Fox was named her replacement.
One thing that hasn't changed, and likely won't anytime soon, is the status of all-star center Sylvia Fowles. She's still the team's cornerstone and franchise player.
Fowles, who helped the U.S. national team win the 2010 FIBA World Championship in the Czech Republic last month, averaged a team-best 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game last summer for the Sky. Once the season ended, she immediately joined the national team to train for the World Championship.
Now Fowles is in Turkey for a six-month stint of off-season basketball.
She got seven days off when she got home from the Czech Republic and she spent them in her hometown of Miami, cherishing some much-needed down time without a basketball in sight.
She says she did nothing but hang out at the beach and play with her nieces and nephews.
Check that. She did find a little bit of time to check in with some of her favorite people in the Chicago media via conference call. Here's what Fowles said about the 2010 season, changes with the Sky and off-season basketball.
Q: What do you like about international ball (and playing with the U.S. national team)?
A: It's way more physical than the WNBA. They tend to let you get away with more and that's more of my game, just banging around. To tell you the truth, I like it that way. It brings out the best in me.
Q: You had the best season of your three-year WNBA career in 2010. But how disappointing was the 2010 season for you overall? In five years of existence, the Sky still has yet to qualify for the playoffs.
A: It was very disappointing. It's mind-boggling as a player. You set your mind to do things and when you can't get it done, it's frustrating. I'm happy with the things I accomplished this year because this is my first full season in the WNBA (without injury). But at the same time, those things don't mean anything when team is not involved.
Q: What did you think about Coach Key resigning and what wasn't working with him?
A: I enjoyed my time with him. I think he's a very good person. A great person, actually. But things happen. We're trying new things. That's the direction we're going. We're trying to figure this thing out because we have the players to get to the playoffs. We just need that coach to push us over the edge. We need a coach who is demanding. … I don't think (Key) knew how to get to us or through to us on the court, but he tried. I give him an "A for effort. We need a coach with authority who will get on us when we're not doing things right. Even the little things. Because small things are what really count. He wasn't the type of person to get on your case. The players got on each other more than he did.
Q: What part of last year's disappointment falls on the players? What do the players need to fix?
A: We knew each other. We knew how each other played. But our communication (stunk). And we were inconsistent. Some people showed up one night and then not another night. We just lacked a fire.
Q: Looking at the big picture, what do you think about all the changes that have happened with the Sky just since the end of the season?
A: We needed something different. It wasn't just from the coach or player perspective. They took it a step further. It's going to be different, and I'm looking forward to it.
Q: With almost no time off between the Sky season and your national-team obligations and now your stint with your off-season team in Turkey, how tired are you? How do you push through?
A: Tired was three years ago when I first got into (the WNBA). It's the norm now. Would I like to rest and get more time off? Yes. But I'm truly blessed to have this talent. I feel like I need to keep pushing forward. I'm healthy and I just need to keep playing for as long as I can. And I do it for my family, too. I help them (financially).
Q: Even though a vacation may sound more appealing, are you looking forward to re-joining the Sky for training camp in the spring of 2011?
A: I am looking forward to it. I'll come back and recuperate. If we get more than two weeks, that's like paradise. If I can get just two weeks, I'll be refreshed and ready to go.