All-Star Q&A: Jenny Boucek

Typically, All-Star coaches are chosen by virtue of who was a part of last year's WNBA Finals. Such is the case with Eastern Conference coach Bill Laimbeer, who led the Shock to their 2006 WNBA Finals triumph over Sacramento. But since John Whisenant stepped down as Monarchs coach after the Finals loss, it was announced that the Western Conference coach was to be determined by the team with the best record at the time of the selection. That ended up being Sacramento and thus first-year head coach Jenny Boucek -- also a former WNBA player and assistant coach -- was afforded the honor.

The Monarchs haven't missed a beat under Boucek and are currently locked in a virtual tie with San Antonio atop the West standings. Boucek has maintained the defensive-minded philosophy that has come to be associated with the Monarchs, as the team is holding opponents to 70 points per game -- the second best clip in the league. As a result, Sacramento is a serious threat to reach the WNBA Finals for the third straight year.

Along with her staff, Boucek will have Monarchs Yolanda Griffith and Rebekkah Brunson on her side in D.C., as Griffith was voted a starter and Brunson was selected as a reserve.'s Mark Bodenrader talked with Boucek about being named the Western Conference All-Star head coach and how she plans to approach the mid-season affair.

Q: What are your thoughts on being the Western Conference coach for the All-Star Game this year?
BOUCEK: �It�s a big honor for our team. This is a tough league, so for us to be leading the way at any point of the season is something that is a big challenge. I hope that we can go down there and have a few players with our coaching staff and represent our team well, because it�s definitely a team honor.�

Q: Are you going to try to get your Monarchs players more minutes in the All-Star Game?
BOUCEK: �Oh, absolutely not. I have no idea how I�m going to distribute minutes yet. We�ll try to do the right thing and not get them too tired (laughs) during the All-Star Game, but also hopefully we�ll put on a good show."

Q: You were an assistant coach with the Seattle Storm from 2003-05. Sue Bird was named a starter but won�t be playing, so what�s it going to be like coaching Lauren Jackson again?
BOUCEK: �I love coaching Lauren and Sue. I can�t wait to get on the court with them again. They�re a coach�s dream. They�re two of the most talented young players in the world. I�d love to be back on the same side as them.�

Q: Is there any other player you�re looking forward to coaching besides your own players and Jackson and Bird?
BOUCEK: �I look forward to getting to know all of them. It�s always fun to get to know the other players as people, and over the years you get the opportunity to sometimes, and the All-Star Game is a good opportunity to do that.�

Q: You�ve been to the All-Star Game before as a member of the Storm staff in 2005 after Seattle won the title in 2004. Is there anything you can take from that experience that you can carry over to this one?
BOUCEK: �Just to have fun and enjoy it. And to put the players in a situation to hopefully entertain the fans, and make sure that they have a really good experience.�

Q: Are you going to treat this like a regular season game, or will you be more concerned with just getting every player a fair amount of minutes?
BOUCEK: �No, it�s not going to be like a regular season game at all. This is for the fans. And it�s for the players to enjoy. I just want our players to have a good time and put on a good show for the fans.�

Q: What�s the one thing you�re looking forward to the most in D.C.?
BOUCEK: �Just enjoying the experience. This is an experience for the fans of the WNBA. That�s really what the WNBA All-Star Game is for. I will definitely enjoy being a part of that and letting the world see these great athletes put on display.�

Q: Are you surprised with the success you�ve had in your first year as head coach?
BOUCEK: �I�m not thinking about that whatsoever. I�m part of a great team and I�ve been blessed to be able to join into something that was already great. I�m sure they would be doing this no matter who is coaching them. I just get to be a part of it.�

Q: How was your team able to pick up the slack when DeMya Walker went down with a season-ending injury?
BOUCEK: �We�ve had to do it collectively. And we still miss her. Collectively, we�re trying to pick up the slack.�

Q: Do you like the way your team is playing into the break this year?
BOUCEK: �Yeah, I do. I think we�re continuing to get better and that�s all you can ask as a coach.�

Jenny Boucek will be the second Monarchs head coach in as many seasons to coach the Western Conference All-Stars after John Whisenant headed up the squad last year.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images