Q+A: Carolyn Swords
SLAMonline catches up with Chicago Sky’s reserve center.
by Sherron Shabazz / @SherronShabazz
Chicago Sky backup center Carolyn Swords has been thrust into a starting role due to the lower leg injury to Sylvia Fowles. Chicago is a half a game out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just a handful of games remaining, and in order for Chicago to make its first playoff appearance in franchise history, they’re going to need solid play in the post.
It may seem like a lot to ask of Swords, a second-year player, to fill the shoes of Fowles, but the 6-6 Boston College grad is more than capable. Swords averages a modest 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, but she only plays 10 minutes per game.
Swords is 10th best in rebounds per 40 minutes in the WNBA and 13th in blocks per 40 minutes. She’s also second best in the WNBA in field goal percentage at 60 percent, behind her teammate Sylvia Fowles.
When given playing time, Carolyn Swords delivers.
“Carolyn’s efficient,” Sky Head Coach Pokey Chatman said. “The biggest thing for C is she gets to go up against Syl for most of her career. We don’t have to worry about getting her ready for an opponent. She sees one of the best every day.”
“She’s huge,” Chatman said of Swords. “She always seems to be in the right place, she sets solid screens to get people open. I’m pleased with her play.”
SLAMonline spoke with Carolyn Swords about the development of her game, adjusting to a starting role, and the Chicago Sky’s playoff hopes.
SLAM: Is the team feeling any pressure being on the playoff bubble?
Carolyn Swords: I think at this point in the season there’s definitely a lot of focus on just trying to do our best so we can make the playoffs. So I’d say everyone is definitely locked in. It’s an exciting time so everyone is excited to be playing.
SLAM: Do you find yourself watching what New York is doing?
CS: I’m really just trying to focus on what we’re doing. We have some good opponents coming up and if we can just execute we’ll be in a good situation. We try not to worry about things that are beyond our control.
SLAM: The team had a hot start and then went on a 9-game losing streak. What changed during that time and what do you attribute the losing streak to?
CS: We were so close in all of those games. I think if we just focus on executing the best that we can, controlling what we can control, and tightening up on defense hopefully that’ll help us moving forward.
SLAM: You guys lead the league in turnovers, what do you think the issue is?
CS: I think our execution loosens up a little bit or we don’t put ourselves in the best situations. It’s totally controllable, which is a good thing. We know that we can limit those.
SLAM: With Syl being out you’ve started a few games and played well. Does your mindset change when you’re in the starting lineup versus coming off the bench?
CS: No matter what’s happening I always try to be ready for whatever the team needs me to do whether that’s rebounding, screening, or defending the other teams big post players. I try not to let that affect how I go into a game.
SLAM: Do you have a preference, starting or coming off the bench?
CS: [Laughs] No. I mean I’m happy to be with this team and be playing with them. It’s a really exciting league to be a part of so it’s a blessing.
SLAM: What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?
CS: I think the city is beautiful. It was great over the Olympic break to have a chance to really explore the city. We have great fans here. We always get a great crowd and they’re very loyal. I really appreciate their support. This team is great. I really enjoy my teammates. They push me and encourage me. It’s a blessing to be in a good situation.
SLAM: You seem really quiet and reserved every game that I come to and then the other day I saw you and Le’coe [Willingham] doing the hair flip during player introductions. What are the origins of the pre-game hair flip?
CS: [Laughs] It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It’s just something fun to do before the game—really spontaneous.
SLAM: You guys all seem to really like each other and get along on this team.
CS: Definitely. Everyone gets along really well. I love these girls. Everyone is really supportive and encouraging. We have a good time together so it’s great.
SLAM: The team brought in a lot of veterans this season to a really young team. Talk about what Ruth [Riley], Swin [Cash], Ticha [Penicheiro], and Le’coe bring to the team.
CS: They’ve brought tremendous leadership. They’ve had great experiences, all of them have played on championship teams before and they’re great about sharing that wisdom. I really appreciate it with it only being my second year. They’re great to be around. They bring a lot of focus and determination and it’s awesome.
SLAM: You’ve improved statistically in scoring and rebounding this season despite playing only two more minutes per game. What do you need to work on in your game to see more court time?
CS: I think just improving my consistency, being aggressive, and being ready to do whatever the team is asking me to do. There are great post players on this team and I can learn a lot from them.
SLAM: Did you have any individual goals coming into the season, and if so have you met them?
CS: I think my goals were to just play with more confidence this year with it being my second year. I think I’m building on that. It’s been an exciting season.
SLAM: What does the team have to do to win these last few games and make the playoffs?
CS: Control what we can, execute the best that we can, and stay together and play together—we’ll be good.