Anosike Anxious For First All-Star Appearance

Minnesota Lynx forward Nicky Anosike may have been a second-round draft pick (16th overall) last season, but with the way sheís been playing, she should have been taken much higher.

Anosike, in her second year out of the University of Tennessee, was named to the WNBAís Western Conference All-Star team on Monday. The Staten Island, N.Y. native earned the spot by posting an average of 14 points, seven rebounds (third best in the league) and three steals per game during the first half. Those numbers are good enough to put her among the top sophomores in the game.

The 23-year-old is also a major reason why the Lynx (9-7) have gone from sixth in the West last season to third, where they hold a playoff spot by three games.

Anosike spoke to's Scott Stanchak about this Saturdayís All-Star Game, among other topics.

How did you find out you made the All-Star team and how have you been celebrating since?

The head coach called me on the phone and told me. I was so excited. I screamed so loud. It was really exciting. Everyoneís just been sending text messages, phone calls, saying Ďcongratulationsí and Ďyouíre hard work finally paid off.í And celebrating, I havenít really been able to celebrate because we had a game the night that I found out and then we have a huge game (Wednesday), so weíve really just been trying to focus on the games and the team more than my individual accomplishment. Last night, the team took us out to dinner, took me and Charde (Houston), out to dinner and treated us, which was really nice.

You grew up in Staten Island, N.Y., about a three-hour drive to Uncasville, CT. Is your family expected to show up and support you?

Thereís so many people who want to come and support me, but the only thing is, I called trying to put in a ticket request. I was willing to pay pretty much whatever I had to to get tickets, but they informed me that itís sold out and theyíll only be giving every player two tickets to the game. So itís really difficult and hard for me because I know thereís a lot of people who havenít seen me play in person since high school and they were really hoping to come to the game.

What does this mean to you to go from second-round pick last year to your first All-Star nod?

It means the world. I always knew I was a great player in college, but I never really got the chance to show what I could do. That kind of ate away at me for four years, just kind of knowing that I had so much potential, but I wasnít living up to it, and I promised myself that when I got to the pros that wouldnít happen, I would do whatever I could to not let that happen. Iíve just worked hard, Iíve tried to give everything I have, whether itís putting in extra time before practice, after practice, watching extra film with coaches, whatever, I just have given whatever I could and itís really paying off now.

Talk about your relationship with the Lynx other first-time All-Star, Charde Houston, and what this means to make the trip together.

Chardeís always been special since the day that we got here. She went third round and you look at her stats and say that she should have been a Top 5 pick, and I say the same thing about myself. We were on a mission from day one, since April 21, we always talk about this day.

Were you surprised not to see your former teammate at Tennessee Candace Parker on the All-Star roster? She did miss a lot of the season, but she is also the reigning MVP.

Iím not really surprised. She hasnít been playing this season, and she came back and sheís really not herself. Iím sure sheíll be on plenty of All-Star teams in the future. Iím not really that surprised that she didnít make it this year.

Back to yourself. What were some of the biggest things you learned during your freshman season in the WNBA that have translated into great results in 2009?

Pretty much just how in college itís kind of okay just to be athletic or just to be strong, but in the pros you have to combine those two things, you have to be strong and athletic, quick and strong. You have to put it all together. I had a taste of what it was like last season, but I knew I had to take it up a few notches this season in order to be where I wanted to be, which is an All-Star.

Youíre having a really strong offensive season, but youíre also among the top three in rebounds. Where do you put most of your focus in your game?

Iím a defensive-minded player. Iím out there trying to get steals and trying to be aggressive off defense. Thatís my bread and butter.

The Lynx are right there at the top of the Western Conference standings. Where do you see yourselves heading into the half and what needs to be done in this second half?

I think we have to take it up a notch. We're not happy with where we are right now. We know we can be doing a lot better. We just have to improve in every area, but I think right now our main focus is defense.

Nicky Anosike is one of seven first-time All-Stars.
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