Q&A: Fulcher talks about her role, team values
It’s No. 22’s fifth time around.
Redshirt senior Janae Fulcher is the leader of a young Sun Devils team that returns no starters.
After the ASU women's basketball team lost its leader, senior guard Deja Mann to injury, Fulcher picked up the workload.
Fulcher averages 12.1 points per game. She does it in efficient fashion though, shooting 56 percent — good enough for top 20 in the nation in field goal percentage.
This season, she has had a 26-point performance in a win over Florida in November and had a 23-point and seven-rebound game versus Washington State.
After ASU was down by three at the start of the second half Friday, Fulcher ignited a strong second half, scoring 16 points in the last 18 minutes on the way to team’s first Pac-12 win. She also finished with 11 rebounds.
Fucher has solidified herself as the Sun Devils’ “go-to” player, even on a team that strongly values horizontal contribution and balanced scoring.
Fulcher sat down with The State Press to discuss her team’s values and goals as well as her final season.
The State Press: What’s one word to describe your team and why?
Janae Fulcher: I think that we’re growing. With every game, we have a growth mindset to just get better and better with each game. Pac-12 (play) didn’t start off how we wanted it to, so we definitely have needed to get better.
SP: It’s your fifth and final season. Are you fulfilling all the goals you’ve wanted to?
JF: Trying to. I just want to be the backbone for my team. Just know that they can count on me for whatever that needs to be done, whether it be defense or rebounding or scoring. I just want my team to be able to rely on me. And I think — and I hope — I’m fulfilling it, and if not, they can definitely let me know.
SP:You've been here for a while and have seen so many players. How has your game changed since you’ve come to ASU?
JF: I definitely think my roles have changed. I have a lot more responsibility now being a senior and being a leader for this team. So I think that has definitely changed. That’s pretty much the main thing.
SP: What is one aspect of your game that you’re really trying to work on?
JF: I would definitely have to say rebounding every possession, because sometimes I take possessions off. And defensively, being in the right position. Just working hard for every possession. There’s a few things.
SP: As a team, what is the one improvement you want to see the most as the season progresses?
JF: Definitely our defense and our talking. I think we can do so much better in those areas. Those are definitely controllable for us and are things that will make it easier for us to win games.
SP: What is your role in that change and improvement?
JF: Just to be an anchor for the defense. I can see everything from the post position. So making sure I’m talking for my teammates and making sure they know I’m there for help side or hedge (defense) or whatever they need it for.
SP: Coach Charli Turner Thorne talks about that “horizontal contribution,” which I found interesting. What’s the importance of that, and why do you girls value that?
JF: It’s just easier when it’s not all on one person. Each person on this team has designated leadership roles that they need to fulfill for this team. By doing so, it kind of takes the pressure off a senior such as myself, and Deja and (junior center) Joy (Burke) as well. So it just makes it easier for us to focus on the leadership roles we’re given at the beginning of the season.
SP: Is it easy for all of you girls to shove away the individual glory for that?
JF: For sure. I mean, your stats mean nothing if your team doesn’t win. And your stats mean nothing when your team wins; it’s a team win. It’s not a win or loss on your individual stats.
SP: You guys are so young. How do you teach your younger teammates that intensity and grit and full effort they need to win?
JF: Continue to remind them of the legacy that we uphold here at ASU. It doesn’t have to just be about our team. It’s about the teams that we’re playing for and the teams that came before us. So we constantly just remind them of that, and the legacy we want to leave with this team. I think slowly, but surely, that’s going to hit home.
SP: How close do you think you guys are from “hitting home?"
JF: I would hope sooner rather than later. I definitely think it’s there. They know what they have to do. It’s just doing it.
SP: How far do you believe your team can go this year?
JF: I think we can go as far as we want to go if we put our minds to it. All we have to do (is) what we say we want to do, and we’ll be a completely different team. I can guarantee that you haven’t seen the team that we can be.
SP: Do you guys talk about specific goals? Top three in Pac-12s? NCAA tournament?
JF: Oh definitely. But right now we’re focusing on getting better at the controllables. Just focusing on our defense and getting better at that, game by game. Then we can step to bigger goals.
SP: Any plans after college?
JF: I don’t know yet. I don’t know if I want to play overseas yet or if I just want to go into the normal world. I don’t (know) if I’m ready for that. I don’t know if I’m ready to just give up basketball cold turkey. But we’ll find out after season, I guess; we’ll have to.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com