Fowles Taking Her Game To New Heights

She's tall, strong and agile. And on top of those qualities, she has more big-time game experience than possibly any other player in women's college basketball.

LSU's senior center Sylvia Fowles has been wowing college basketball fans for years. But during the Lady Tigers' early dominance of this season, it is apparent to any onlooker that Fowles has truly developed into one of the best players in the country.

The Kodak All-American has played on and contributed to three Final Four teams in as many years in Baton Rouge. With LSU ranking No. 8 in the country and slicing through competition with a 17-3 record this season, it's looking like a strong possibility for a fourth run.

The 6-6 senior was named SEC player of the week on January 28 for her efforts in the Auburn and Kentucky games the previous week. Fowles recorded her 71st and 72nd career double-double during that week with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance at Auburn and a 20-point, 10-rebound game against Kentucky. The rangy center shot 72.0 percent from floor in those two contests combined. She also had a combined three assists, seven blocks, and two steals in those two games.

Fowles is currently the fifth all-time leading scorer in Lady Tiger history with 1,931 career points heading into the Florida game on Sunday. She is third all-time in rebounds with 1,377 and seventh in blocked shots with 285.

She is currently averaging just below a double-double with 16.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg this season and has accomplished this in just over 26 minutes of action a game – mostly because of the countless blowouts LSU has served their opponents throughout the course of this season.

"I think as far as the blowouts go, it's actually made us better than made us comfortable," Fowles said. "It's allowed our bench to really develop some confidence, and that's something that will be very important down the stretch in conference play. I think, now past the midpoint of the season, we are learning how to really finish teams off."

In last Thursday's 30-point runaway victory over South Carolina, Fowles proved that it didn't matter how you attacked her, she was going to cripple you in some shape or fashion. The Gamecocks used double- and sometimes triple-team schemes on the center most of the evening but were unable to stop her from scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Additionally, the extra attention on Fowles led to another big shooting night for hot-handed senior Quianna Chaney, who went 3-of-5 from 3-point range and put up 14 points.

Even with her offensive abilities noticeably dominant in the South Carolina game, Fowles drew the attention of the opposing coach. South Carolina coach Susan Walvius was quick to point out how much change defensively she has seen in the All-American over the course of four seasons.

"Sylvia's defense has really grown in her time here," Walvius said. "Four years ago when Sylvia was a freshman on the floor, we could get her on a slip screen. Last year we were able to score on Sylvia and we did. This year we were not able to. She is impressive."

LSU coach Van Chancellor talked after the game of how Fowles' "sure hands" are the attribute that sets her apart from the rest of the field.

"She has the best hands of any big player I have ever seen," Chancellor said. "She is just the best. I've coached in the pros, you know, and I've coached all over, and she is just the best I have ever seen. To go up and catch it in the crowd with everybody around, I've never seen anything like it.

"I was just thinking back to the Kentucky game when she saved a ball from going out of bounds and somehow brought the ball back in and then dribbled and scored it. Not every player that is 6-6 can do that."

Fowles' dominance has opened the door for Chaney to become one of the best shooters in the SEC this season. After a slow start from the perimeter, the senior has caught fire since conference play began. Chaney leads the team, shooting 46-of-123 from behind the arc on the year and 43.3 percent from 3-point range in conference play. The Southern Lab product now ranks fourth in career 3-pointers at LSU.

With Fowles' intimidating presence down low and "Q's" flaming touch from the outside, a trip to Tampa in April seems almost like a lock, but you won't catch the Lady Tigers looking past even their next opponent.

"I think now we have showed that other teams can't just focus on Sylvia," said LSU senior forward Ashley Thomas. "They have to change up their schemes because we have so many options. And as long as everyone is scoring, it takes a lot of pressure off Sylvia.


"We are just going to keep taking the same approach that we have all year, which is just prepare for the next opponent. Take care of business and then move on to the next game."

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