Sept. 17, 2003
Former Seminole women’s basketball great Brooke Wyckoff, who just completed her third season in the WNBA, made a quick visit to Tallahassee on Tuesday afternoon and stopped by the Florida State Basketball Training Center. Wyckoff, a second round draft pick of the Orlando Miracle in 2001, has played in 98 games, including 54 starts, in her three-year career. This past season, Wyckoff played in 34 games for the Connecticut Sun and worked her way into the starting lineup.
She set career highs in points (17 vs. Minnesota) and rebounds (12 vs. Detroit) this season while helping lead the Sun to the Eastern Conference finals where they fell to eventual WNBA champion Detroit. Wyckoff will head overseas next week where she will begin her third season playing professionally in Spain.
FSU Sports Information caught up with Wyckoff and asked the former Seminole standout a few questions:
How did Florida State women’s basketball prepared you for the WNBA?
Brooke: Florida State women’s basketball is a big time program with a great staff, coaches and a great group of people who prepared me in every way, not only in the basketball game, which was big, but in life also. Being a professional not only has to do with being a basketball player but handling yourself professionally in the real world. Having a well-rounded group of people around me helped me to prepare.
Was there any one thing that the coaches told you to be prepared for?
Brooke: Coach Tag (Theresa Gernatt) especially instilled a work ethic in me that as long as I work, as hard as I can work, good things will happen. All of the coaches prepared me for whatever situation came across. They told me that no matter what, keep working hard, have a good attitude and be coachable. Those are three things that have carried me through the WNBA even more than my actual basketball skills.
How are the coaches in the WNBA similar and different from Coach Sue?
Brooke: My coach this year was Mike Tibo. He is similar to Coach Sue in that he is very encouraging. I need a coach that is encouraging — not screaming all of the time at me when I make a mistake but helping me realize my strengths and giving me the confidence that I need to do the things on the court to help the team. Differences, Coach Sue was a great friend on and off the court and in the professional world it is a little different. I mean Mike is a great person, but he is my boss and obviously you don’t have the chance to get to know someone that well in that setting.
Outside of the game itself, how different is professional basketball compared to college?
Brooke: There is a big difference. You go to work, which is practice or a game, and then you are done and you have your own free time. College basketball is a lot different. You have to keep up with your studies. There is a built in life around you with people your own age, activities to do other than basketball, obviously school. In the professional world, it is not like that. You’re an adult. You take care of your own things and you don’t have schoolwork to do so you have more free time, which can be a good or bad thing. Basketball is your job and that has to be your main focus where as in college, studies are your main focus first and basketball second.
How different is the actual game?
Brooke: The game is different in the way that everyone is on the same level. From the person who plays 40 minutes to the person who plays two minutes a game on your team. Everyone has been a star in their college program or where ever they are from. Every team that we play in the WNBA each night has that same caliber of players. In the college game, you obviously play teams that are weaker or stronger.
Strength and conditioning is bviously it is a key part in college athletics. How important and what kind of program do they put you on in the WNBA?
Brooke: In the WNBA, it is really important especially since it is a shorter season so you have to be consistent because you are practicing and playing so many games, you have to try and fit your conditioning in and your weightlifting in when you can which isn’t normally a regular basis. A lot of times, someone is not right on top of you making you do it. It is a choice and when you aren’t playing a lot minutes you have to motivate yourself to do some extra conditioning. There is a coach there who will give you guidelines and will make a workout program for you but sometimes it is a lot of self-motivation.
What advice can you give players hoping to go into the WNBA?
Brooke: My advice is to be the most rounded player you can be but also be great in one thing and stand out in one area. Also try to develop the parts of your game that may not be there right now because when you do get to the WNBA, a lot of people switch positions. It takes a few years, and hopefully a coach is willing to invest in you if you do change positions. Try to work as hard as you can. It is really just kind of luck and also a good work ethic and good attitude really takes you a long way in this whole thing.
What was your first season like overseas?
Brooke: It was challenging because it is a whole new culture and a whole new way of playing basketball – getting used to a new coach, new language and new teammates. You learn a lot and you learn about being a professional and being on your own and really how to do your job well.
What kind of adversity have you had to deal with as a professional player and did the adversity you had to deal with at FSU help to prepare you for that?
Brooke: It has kind of been that way too in my professional career because the first two years we were not as successful as we wanted to be and then the whole move and people not thinking that it would really work out, our team wouldn’t be good in Connecticut. We ended up making the playoffs and doing really well. Being at FSU taught me to put things in perspective. It is just a game. When things get rough, just buckle down and remember what is important and keep a good attitude cause things will turn around. They always do.
How long do you want to play?
Brooke: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I am just going with it for as long as I feel good and I am enjoying it.
What about Florida State’s program and how it has grown?
Brooke: I am proud to be a part of this awesome program. Anyone who is new and just comes to this basketball facility and sees this would be amazed. Not everyone knows just where it came from and just how hard the staff has worked to put it all together. People are recognizing it and good players are coming here and it is so exciting.
As FSU’s lone representative in the WNBA, what is the perception of FSU women’s basketball in the league?
Brooke: In the WNBA, a lot of players are from those teams that have been very successful. It takes a lot to get respect but I can see that kind of thing happening here and it is exciting. Down the road it’s going to happen. I know that Florida State will be well represented in the WNBA.