Fairbanks basketball star Ruthy Hebard just completed her first WNBA season and is now playing in Europe for the season. We will be talking with her about her experiences weekly. If you have any questions or comments for Ruthy, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll forward them.
Ruthy Hebard has only played two regular season games with her Nesibe Aydin team in Ankara, Turkey, but she’s already having an impact.
Not only is the Chicago Sky forward leading the team in points, she’s also pulling in plenty of rebounds, with double-doubles in both games. The style of play is a little different from the WNBA, she said via email.
“They expect me to be a force down low, so that is what I am trying to be,” she said. “There are a lot of post-up plays that go through the post, so with that, I am just trying to finish the plays and be as effective as I can for the team.”
The style of play in the Turkish league is different from the WNBA, said the former West Valley High School standout.
“There are a bunch of really good players in this Turkish league, and so far it has been fun, being around the talent. Learning from the talent overseas,” she said. “Shey (Peddy) and I have been getting along well. We get food almost every day after practice.”
Peddy is a guard for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Hebard said another player also attended college in the U.S. and she’s gone to dinner with other teammates. She is working to overcome the language barrier, although most of her teammates speak some English.
“I am slowly but surely learning some Turkish,” she said. “Around the community if I am not with the team or if it is just Shey and I, it is a little tough. Most of the people we have encountered do not speak English.”
Nesibe Aydin is a new addition to the Turkish Super League this year, moving up from a second-division league last season.
“As of right now we are 2-0 and happy with our performances,” Hebard said. “I think the ultimate goal for this team is to show people that we are meant to be here. We have good players. When we play together and give it our all, we are a force to be reckoned with. Every time I step on the court with this team, it is so fun. Every player on this team is competitive and really loves the game, which makes going to practice every day with them that much better.”
Off the court, Hebard is enjoying life outside the WNBA bubble.
“It is different because now I can walk to the store, go to restaurants,” she said. “Even though COVID is still very real over here, so we try to limit our time out and about. But I have walked to the store a couple of times, and have went and got food with teammates. So that is fun, just to be around people. I missed the social aspect, if that makes sense.”
She is looking forward to seeing more of the country. Nesibe Aydin’s next game is today in Istanbul.
“We are taking a bus to Istanbul, which is about a five, six hour bus ride,” Hebard said.”So I am excited to see some of Turkey as we drive. I have books to read and Netflix shows downloaded as well to get me through this bus ride.”
They will be playing one of the league’s traditional powerhouses, Fenerbahçe, and Hebard will be playing against her Oregon Ducks teammate, Satou Sabally, who plays for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings. Sabally tweeted at Hebard on Saturday, “We play against each other tomorrow … in Turkey … sounds crazy, right? We global baby!”
Follow Hebard and Nesibe Aydin on Instagram: @nesibeaydinbasketbol.
Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.