The smile on Sylvia Fowles' face, along with the relieved tone in her voice, said everything you needed to know about her debut with the Minnesota Lynx.
She's thrilled to be in the right situation, one she has felt strongly about for months.
"I'm happy," Fowles said. "This whole process has been somewhat deflating, but at the end of the day I think Chicago waiting out their part, Minnesota waiting out their part, and me sticking to my gut and wanting to be here, it says a lot."
She continued, "through the whole process me and Reeve were going back and fourth, and I pretty much kept telling her, 'oh it's not going to happen you should go look at someone else,' and she was like, 'no you should just be patient.' "
"It gave me a sense of hope, but I really wasn't looking forward to it when I got that call on Sunday," Fowles said.
In her first game, Fowles played 26 minutes, six more than expected according to coach Reeve, and finished with 11 points and five rebounds. She also wasted little time in flashing her defensive skills.
"She was getting in the passing lanes," Maya Moore said. "When your center is doing that it really gives us a lot of energy and momentum. She's an energy player. She's not your typical center that's kind of bigger, slower, and methodical. She's powerful and provides a lot of energy."
"I'm excited to play with this group of young women, and it was fun tonight," Fowles said. "Tonight was a good test. I think I passed for the most part," she declared with a sly smirk on her face.
Moore was named MVP of the All-Star Game on Saturday after dropping 30 points to lead the West over the East. Four days later, her scoring binge continued. She dropped a game-high 27 points through a series of step-back jumpers, 3-point bombs (with a devastatingly quick release), layups in traffic, and five freebies at the line, to lead Minnesota over Los Angeles, 82-76.
"Once she gets one good look, Maya just goes, and goes, and goes," Whalen said. "She's that kind of player. She was the MVP of our league last year for a reason."
Lindsey Whalen added 24 points and six assists while flashing her dominant midrange jumper. To no surprise, she was flat out unguardable in the pick-and-roll again.
"I haven't played in ten or eleven days so I was definitely a little anxious and excited to play," Whalen said after the game.
Candace Parker made her season debut, finishing with 12 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds. She sat out the first part of the season recovering and resting from overseas play, a more common practice in the WNBA due to players often heading overseas for higher wages.
"That's a really good team ... obviously you can't look at their record," Reeve said in the postgame press conference. "There's a reason why she [Parker] was MVP."
During the postgame presser, Reeve talked most notably about playing Moore too many minutes. "Maya was tired. I just don't do a good job of getting her rest," Reeve said. "In those moments where she was not as good offensively she was pretty tired."
The logical question was quite obvious: what can Reeve do to manage Moore's minutes more effectively to ensure she is still fresh for the playoffs?
"Matchups ... now if you ask Maya, Maya doesn't want to come out. She probably felt like it was five minutes too short," Reeve joked, as Moore logged 35 minutes on the night.
"For me, getting Seimone [Augustus] back will be helpful and then if we're not playing L.A., with those matchup issues, I'll have better opportunities to use Tricia [Liston] in those situations."