Sue Wicks: Q & A

Often welcomed onto the court with cheers of “SUUEEEE,” Rutgers graduate (’88) Sue Wicks has been with the Liberty since 1997. A key defensive spark off the bench, the 6’3″ forward was thrust into the starting line up in 1999 when Rebecca Lobo went down with a season-ending injury. Though she returned to her reserve role the next season, fans voted her a 2000 All-Star. Winner of the 2001 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, Wicks was recently honored at the Citizenship through Sports Awards Dinner.

WB: Have you considered how Rebecca’s injury impacted your career?

SW: Rebecca was playing 35 minutes the year before so those minutes just came to me. I think I still played a ROLE for the team. But you never know what would have happened. Maybe (new coach) Richie Aubato wouldn’t have like Rebecca’s game. Maybe she wouldn’t have been playing even if she didn’t get hurt – you never know. That’s sports — you never can say, “Well what if this happened, what if that happened. You’d lose so much sleep. (Laughs)

It’s a lot of luck in sports — to land on the right team, and to be there and at the right moment. You have to work hard every day until your luck arrives. Because luck does come, it’s just that sometimes we’re not prepared for it.

WB: What moments have you not been ready for luck?

SW: You can think about the Championship — the games when we lost. We needed to be more prepared. It was right there. But for a couple of shots that could have gone in – things like that, and you have a Championship. I don’t think anyone realizes how close you are. It’s a matter, sometimes, of one or two baskets that break a game. One foul the ref calls and we could have been Champions. It really was that close. You have the Comets with their four Championships — a lot of those were very close. They took advantage — when their luck came they were prepared. Whether it was (Cynthia) Cooper or Tina (Thompson), they hit those shots and they made sure they took advantage.

WB: You’re known for your strong defense. What do you see as the difference between physical and dirty?

SW: Dirty play it is any time you’re trying to hurt a player. A physical play, or “veteran” play, is any time you’re trying to slow them down from scoring baskets or being at their full strength. That’s the defensive player’s job. If someone says I grabbed their jersey or pushed them out of bounds or fouled them and the ref didn’t call it, well you know what? The ref didn’t call it so it’s not a foul! That’s not my problem.

I really feel strongly about that. I tell the players on the other team — after I grab their jersey — I say, “Well, you know, you should do that too! Put it in your book.” You should learn from these plays not sit there and cry about it. Any time someone has done these things to me – like a Valerie Still or a Janice Lawrence, all these older players — when they did this to me I really appreciated it. Of course, one learns the trade before you learn the tricks, but the tricks are part of the game. Like I said, when the game comes down to one basket or person being confident at the end of the game or being frustrated you wanted to everything that you can do.

WB: Do you have post-basketball plans?

SW: I want to coach. I think it’s important to have more women coaches out there. It’s our game, it’s our league and I’d like to see more women coaches involved. I don’t like the trend with all these ex NBA-guys coming in. I think they have something to teach the players and maybe women’s coaches have a way to go. I mean it is a relatively new field – even thought it’s been around 30-40 years or so. But, I think we need to get back to what the WNBA started – with the female executives and female coaches because this is a woman league and it was very empowering. I thought it was on the right path.

WEB EXTRA

Often welcomed onto the court with cheers of “SUUEEEE,” Rutgers graduate (’88) Sue Wicks has been with the Liberty since 1997. A key defensive spark off the bench, the 6’3″ forward was thrust into the starting line up in 1999 when Rebecca Lobo went down with a season-ending injury. Though she returned to her reserve role the next season, fans voted her a 2000 All-Star. Winner of the 2001 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, Wicks was recently honored at the Citizenship through Sports Awards Dinner.

WB: Why do you think you’re such a fan favorite?

SW: (Laughs) I really have no idea. People ask, “Do you hear everyone screaming your name all the time?” Yeah, I hear it sometimes — and it’s a fun named to chant — I know. (Laughs) Other than that I don’t know. I have the same mentality as my teammates when I hit the floor. We’re all trying to go out there and give a hundred percent. Now, if I only have to go out there and play 15 minutes, obviously my 100% is going to be amplified. It looks like it’s more because I’m jumping around and expending a lot of energy.

WB: Coach Theresa Grentz said at Rutgers you were a “magician on defense — always disappeared.” What happened?

SW: Earlier in my career I was an offensive player. I went out there (after college) against these talented older girls and they would shut me down — because they were smarter or stronger or they knew the tricks. It was frustrating. They would still the score THEIR 20 and they would hold me to ten. So I said, “you know what, I’ve got a play defense,” because once you step it up another level it’s not enough just to play offense. You have to neutralize the other players. And I began to think that the defense was the hard-working part of the game — the clever part in of the game, and that offense is more natural talent. You can learn how to shoot, but the big time scorers — they know that they are big time score from the very beginning.

WB: Last season’s loss to Charlotte in playoffs seemed to hurt more than previous losses…

SW: You can’t judge your career or your whole season on one or two games. You know that you’re going to play bad some nights and that you’re going to play great some nights. We’ve had some devastating losses and I’ll tell you what — we’ve had some magnificent nights in Madison Square Garden. It’s always those wonderful night that you think about and you know why you love the game. The losses and the bad nights are motivation for improvement. As soon as you’re done, you step away for a little while and then everything kind of falls back into perspective. You know you love to play and that’s the constant. If that changes, then you step away from it.

Personally, I still love to play. I love to be with my team. I love the process we go through when we’re going after a championship, because every time we play we all have the same objective. If we had a fragmented team where somebody just wants to be an All-Star, or someone just wanted to make whatever little money they make, then it wouldn’t be so much fun. But to struggle and work together for a common goal — it’s really something when everyone pours their soul into it.

WB: The Liberty have been known for their team chemistry – is that just kismet?

SW: Maybe from the outside that’s how it looks. I don’t think that you can ever — I’m a big Spoon (Teresa Weatherspoon) fan, and not everybody is. I read on the Internet there’s a lot of people bashing her. But Spoon brings a lot of stuff to that locker room. Spoon is sincere. When she tells you she’s going to give you a hundred percent or that she believes in you, it’s worth SO much. There are not many natural leaders in sports. And Spoon is a natural leader. You believe her and you want to follow her. That’s the cornerstone of our trust and faith in each other – we have so much trust and faith in Spoon. She helps spread that around and we all feed off that attitude.

WB: What are some of your best moments as a Liberty player?

SW: The first game we played in the Garden was a beautiful day. That was a gorgeous day. We beat Houston in the Garden one year — that was great because we had a sellout crowd and it when right down to the wire. Spoon and I got (Cynthia) Cooper in a trap in the corner, and we got the ball loose and gave it over to Crystal Robinson and she hit the free throws to ice the game. That was a great, tight game. And we won it with the defensive trap and that’s been our trademark. We hit the big shots — we executed. Everybody played hard and well. Then we stood there in the middle of the court and the fans were standing up to cheer. I just stood there and soaked it up. That was a beautiful day. When Spoon hit “the shot” was another time. I thought that was really was Liberty basketball — that last ditch shot, not going to give up until the final buzzer kind of thing.

WB: Talk about the new generation of players.

SW: I’ll tell you what, Sue Bird is a big time player. You can’t doubt any part of her game because she’s got the total package and she didn’t cut any corners. There’s not a lot of them, and they don’t come so often. Spoon is a real deal player. (Cynthia) Cooper was a real deal player. (Sheryl) Swoopes is the real deal. You can say, “Oh, she’s the next real deal,” but as soon you step on the court you know who the real deal is. When I saw (Tamika) Catchings and Sue Bird, I thought, “They are going to be the players’ players. The people players are going to respect and know that “that’s a champion.”

I’m a fan of the young players. When I see them come in, and I see them kicking butt, I get very excited. I’m a Chamique Holdsclaw fan. I’m a fan of Sue Bird, of Catchings, and Swoopes. She’s not a kid anymore, but I’ve always been a fan. I really appreciate how this person plays. That’s a player.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: