Basketball Crazy Interview: Tully Bevilaqua
Basketball Crazy’s brief about Tully Bevilaqua: Tully is one of, if not the best female basketball players to represent Australia. Tully is a current WNBA Indiana Fever player and will soon be in her 12 th WNBA season. This amazing feat includes six years of participating in the WNBA finals. The WNBA Clubs Tully has participated in are Cleveland, Portland, Seattle and Indiana. Tully managed to secure her first Australian Opals team selection in 2006 winning Gold at the FIBA World Basketball Championships in Brazil. Tully went on to achieve Olympic selection in 2008 winning a silver medal. Tully has recently been selected in the squad for this years World Championships.
Tully is well renown for her point guard leadership and defensive attributes.
A full Bio on Tully is available at: http://www.wnba.com/playerfile/tully_bevilaqua/bio.html
Current Profession: WABA Player – Indiana Fever
Place of Birth: Merredin, WA Year of Birth 1972
History of Involvement with basketball Highlights:
Junior Playing Career Australia
Most admired International of USA Player: Tamika Catchings
Most admired Australian Coach: Carrie Graf
Most admired Australian Player: Michelle Timms/Lauren Jackson
Most memorable basketball moment as a senior player: Winning Gold For Australia at World Championships in Brazil 2006
Most memorable basketball moment as a junior player: Playing basketball with my Mum
Tully’s most inspirational phrase: You only live once so make the most of it!!
Tully’s most used coaching phrase: You miss 100% of the shots you don't take
Basketball Crazy’s Interview With Tully Bevilaqua
BBC Hi Tully, thank you for taking the time to talk with Basketball Crazy.
TB It's my pleasure to be a part of Basketball Crazy and share my story with everyone.
BBC Basketball Crazy recognises you as being an inspiration to any young basketball player with what you have achieved so far and will also continue to play a significant contribution to the development of players and basketball. It would be great if you could share with Basketball Crazy’s newsletter subscribers some of your thoughts on general basketball issues.
TB I have had an amazing basketball career that has lasted longer than I ever dreamed it would. Through my basketball I have been able to travel the world and earn a living whilst playing the sport I love. Unfortunately though for Australian basketball many players venture overseas to earn money due to financial necessity.
BBC Tully, you are unique in that you come from a small country town Merridan in Western Australia, are not very tall and been so successful in basketball, the sport you love. Can you tell us why you are so “Basketball Crazy” and involved in the sport from a career and personal point of view?
TB As you mentioned I grew up in a small country town where I played every sport imaginable. Around the age of 15 I decided that my passion was for basketball because I loved the dynamics of the game plus the comradery of a being involved in a team. It certainly wasn't the sport I was most talented but it's where my heart was. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine it would last as long as it has and taken me all over the world and representing my country at a World's Championship and an Olympics. That is a dream come true. Having achieved all this with being short in the sport of basketball made it even more rewarding as some people told me when I was young that I was never going to make it because of my height.
BBC What is it like to be a WNBA player and can you talk about the highs and lows of being involved in such a high profile life?
TB It's been amazing playing in the WNBA. Being a professional athlete is such a different lifestyle to a regular 9-5 job with many perks involved. Some of the highs are playing in such great NBA arenas all over the United States and meeting high profiled people. The lows involved are the constant packing and unpacking of bags, living out of hotels and short term accommodation and being away so far away family.
BBC What do you believe are some of the key roles a point guard does and how much do you think you can influence a team or even a game?
TB A point guard is extremely important as they are an extension to the coach on the court and will be relied upon heavily to put the ball in the right players hands in certain situations. Point guards should have above average ball handling skills, great peripheral vision and communication skills, a good shooting percentage from the perimeter, solid defensive skills and the ability to handle the ball under pressure. It is one of the hardest positions on the court to play but a lot of fun at the same time!!
BBA Tully, you are well regarded as one of the best defensive guards in the WNBA, what attributes make a good defensive player?
TB To be a good defensive player you need a big heart because defense simply comes down to effort and work ethic. Defense may not bring the accolades or look pretty at times but defense wins games and for me has been my bread and butter.
BBC What would a typical week of training look like for a WNBA player? Can you elaborate on what you would do each day?
TB During the season we will play up to 3 games a week and every other day is either training or travelling to your next opponent. There are few rest days but trainings vary once the season has started but generally a 2 hour practice is standard. Every other day we will also continue to do weights training.
BBA If you had a special formula for young Australian female basketball players enabling them to go on the become WNBA players, in brief, what would you think needs to be considered?
TB Everyones situation is different in how they have succeeded in their profession but for me it truly was relentless persistence (a favourite phrase used many times by current Opals Coach Carrie Graf). I was never the best in my age groups but I used my strength, which was defense, and it somehow caught the eye of coach in the United States. There is no real formula I can give except know your strengths and mould the rest of your game around that. Lastly you need to enjoy what you do or else it will become a chore and you won't get the best out of yourself. Play with a smile I say!!
BBC Basketball Crazy is aware that you have established development coaching sessions and camps, are you keen to consider the next step in your basketball career to be maybe a College or WNBA Coach or professional coach?
TB I have been going around circles as to what I want to do when I retire at the end of the season. I've no doubt that coaching will be in the mix but I also have a passion for the media. I have been volunteering my time and commentating some college games and back in Australia a couple years ago I did some work for ABC during the WNBL season. So who knows at this point in time whether I will be behind a microphone or clipboard but I will keep up with my own personal basketball camps here in the States.
BBC As an experienced player, what do you find are some of the key skills that young players are deficient in when they come up against you on the court and what would you recommend players do to be more prepared for the challenges of playing in the WNBA or WNBL.
TB There are so many good rookies coming into the league now and some play like veterans and others like it's their first year. It takes a while for rookies to relax when they are on the court and they tend to rush which causes a lot of their errors. Be patient I would say to them and let the game come to them rather than trying to make things happen every time they touch the ball. In terms of being prepared for the challenges I would just say watch some game tape of WNBA or WNBL games and really learn from the experienced players at training. Individually just be physically prepared as best you can and mental toughness will certainly be a key in success.
BBC What do you like doing away from the court to wind down and take your mind off somewhere else to de-stress?
TB I love to spend time at home with my family and pets. Turn the music up and just chill out. I am a very social person at times so putting on a good bbq always goes down well.
BBC As you are aware, more and more young Australian athletes are seeking scholarships in the USA College system. What do you see as so attractive for an Australian player to move to USA and attend college?
TB There are so many more opportunities for Aussies to play in College especially with the success of the Australian Opals more coaches are looking on our home soil. It’s combination I feel of the opportunity to travel and live in another country whilst playing the sport you love. At the same time your education is being paid for so it’s a pretty good deal. A lot of homework needs to be done though in selecting the right College to go to as there are so many.
BBC What do you believe could be established in Australia to improve and develop basketball players that would be equal to if not better than what is offered by USA colleges? What would your vision be? Lets say hypothetically that you are given the responsibility to manage and establish any basketball development program in Australia with an appropriate budget and resources to match, what would you do?
TB I think overall Australia has a pretty good system in place and if the budget was there it would certainly enhance the overall development and strength of Australian players. You may find that the cream of the crop will stay on Aussie soil longer which improves everyone else’s game at the same time. There needs to be more funds available to coaches also not just players, as more full-time coaches will also help individual development.
BBC In your opinion what is the outlook for both junior and senior national representative team over the next five years?
TB I believe Australian basketball is still in a very good position for the next 5 years. The competitiveness of both the NBL and WNBL at the moment definitely shows that things are still looking good for national teams.
BBC Many basketball players place a great emphasis on being selected in junior state teams and national representative teams. Throughout your junior career you missed out on a being selected in a number of representative opportunities yet you still had the drive to go on and achieve great things. Many players simply drop out of the sport. This must have been disappointing for you however how did you manage to overcome the setbacks and move on? What do you think at the time and why did you overcome these setbacks?
TB I represented State Country in both U16’ and U18’s but never was a I consideration for the AIS program. I never gave up because I loved the sport so much. You come to realise that everyone is different and we all develop at different ages and I am proof of that. That’s why when I talk to the youth of today I emphasise not to get down on themselves. If they miss out on selection at an early age don’t give up. Also as an adult and missing out on the Athens Olympics I was pretty devastated but I knew that I was good enough to be there so worked hard to put myself back in the race for Beijing. A lot comes down to self belief and confidence also plus having a supportive system around you to help pick you up when you get knocked down.
BBC Basketball Crazy wishes to congratulate you on being such a huge inspiration to basketballers back in Australia and would like to thank you for your time and effort in representing Australia. Also thank you for participating in this interview. Readers will hopefully find your responses interesting and thought provoking to enable others to join you in the ongoing development of basketball in Australia. Thanks Tully and look forward to seeing you play.
TB Well thank you for giving me this opportunity and I hope I can finish off my career this year with a great season with the Indiana Fever and possible Opals selection with the World Championship coming up in September. Whatever happens though I’ve had a great time!!
End of Interview