Q+A: Sylvia Fowles
‘We really have a chance to compete for a championship.’
SLAM: You also were top five in scoring at 20 ppg, while shooting close to 60 percent from the field. A great year. What were some things you felt you did well, and what were some things you felt you needed to work on this offseason to take your game to take it to another level?
SF: I think I did good as far as helping my teammates in areas that were needed. From rebounding to blocking shots to getting defensive stops to deflections, I think those are the parts I did good in. Parts that I felt I needed to get better in was my free throws. Even though I felt like I did good as far as my free-throw percentage last year, I always feel like I can do better, and that is always a challenge for me to increase. I also think stepping away from the basket a little bit and hitting that 10-12 foot jumper is also something I want to focus on more this year, just to stretch the defense.
SLAM: That’s funny ’cause I was just going to compliment you on shooting 76 percent from the line, which is very impressive as a post player. Is this something that you really want to improve this year, not only shooting a better percentage but getting to the line more?
SF: You know, as aggressive as I am, I think sometimes when I get a little tired I tend to fade away from the basket a little bit, and having (assistant coach) Jeff [House] here with video, it has really helped me see that I can get to the line more that I did last year. So through studying film I look to be more aggressive and get to the line more.
SLAM: Were there any players you studied to add to your repertoire or even some greats you reached out to for guidance?
SF: Nah, I don’t really try to emulate my game after anyone, I try to go on the fly and play it by ear, and video also helps. But just listening to my coaches in the offseason and searching for their advice about the things I need to do better, coach Chapman just always tells me to just play my game but with me being a post player, there is always something you can nick and tweak. Just listening to my coaches, but also just watching film on myself. To see the things I can also get better at.
SLAM: Your team was 14-20 last year, a down year for the franchise. At home you were solid at 10-7, but away, you struggled at 4-13. What would you say was one of the primary causes of that, and how do you plan to improve on that this year? Maybe the team bringing in vets will help?
SF: I think bringing in the vets will help us get over that hump that we needed to get over. Us being a team and playing together will get us to the playoffs. But I think us being consistent and having the weapons that we have this year, I think we can win more games than we should’ve lost last year. But that comes with just being content within games—when we had our ups, we were up, but when we had our downs, we were down. So it was up and down all season. We just want to maintain a certain level and increase our game play each game, we can’t go down and up.
SLAM: You guys made a splash this offseason, not only giving you a new deal, but bringing in vets like Ticha Penicheiro, but making waves moving the No. 2 pick in the draft to bring in Swin Cash, Lecoe Willingham and a draft pick.
SF: Well with every team we had, I felt like we could go out there and win. But adding Ruth [Riley] and Swin and Ticha made us really feel good. I don’t feel like it will have to be two people that have to score or two or three people that have to step up each night. It takes all five girls out there on the floor for us to do what we have to do. Bringing them in did make me happy, and it also made me feel like, yeah now we really have a chance to compete for a championship.
SLAM: How big was coming back to Chicago? Did that prove to you that they felt like they had a team that could win now? And what is it that you think that Penicheiro and Cash will bring to the table this year for you guys?
SF: A veteran presence and energy. For anyone who knows Swin Cash, her defense is crucial. She just gets after you and when she’s on the floor she never stops. When she is on the floor, she is going to give 110 percent. And that is the same with Ticha—she isn’t as tough as a threat that Swin is on the defensive end but she is always playing hard no matter what.
SLAM: How important of a piece is Epiphanny Prince to your team’s growth this year?
SF: Epiphanny, I don’t even think she knows how good she is yet. She brings so much to the table because she can shoot from the outside and but she can also get to the rim. And I think having that punch inside and outside really brings a lot to the table. She helped us a lot last year and she is only going to get better.
SLAM: So you guys begin the preseason later on this week, what are some things you are looking for from your team early on in these games? Energy, cohesion of the offense?
SF: First of all, limited turnovers, playing hard and making sure we play as a team. We are making sure we are all on the same page—training camp has not been easy. Coach has been throwing a lot at us, but we need to make sure we stick together as a team and go out there and get it done.
SLAM: How does Sylvia Fowles gauge success on and off the court?
SF: Well, sometimes on the court I am very content. If coach tells me I need to go out there and do A, B and C, then I need to go out there and get A, B and C done. Not just A and B or B and C and not A, I need to get everything done that she tells me I need to get done. Also being a threat on both sides of the floor, which I pride myself on. The defense is what I really like, I like to break down and get after people on the court. It’s kind of weird coming from a big girl, but that is how I get my energy on the offensive end. Off the court I try not to do much basketball stuff, I try to get away from it and free my mind because it can get overwhelming at times, so I like to relax, write and draw and hangout with friends.