After losing to the eventual WNBA champion Detroit Shock in the 2003 WNBA Playoffs, the Connecticut Sun were primed to make another run in 2004. But after a trade that sent All-Star Shannon Johnson to the San Antonio Silver Stars and the retiremrent of Rebecca Lobo, the Sun need to add a few more guns to its arsenal. Sun head coach Mike Thibault is optimistic that he can get that help in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
Q: How have you been preparing for the upcoming draft?
“Between my staff and myself, we have seen over 130 college teams play. I have probably seen 70 in person myself. We have been pretty thorough about it and put a lot of time in as this is a big draft for us. We have four draft picks right now and we are trying to get younger. We have put a lot of time and thought into this and talked to a lot of college coaches, so this has been a huge offseason for us."
Q: Are there any specific areas you are looking to improve upon with the draft?
"With the retirement of Rebecca Lobo, Jessie Hicks leaving through free agency and trading away Shannon Johnson, we are probably looking for a post player and a point guard. We have Debbie Black at the point right now, but we have no depth at that position. We are signing some guards and bringing into training camp, so we may address that issue not through the draft. That will depend on who is available and when and where we pick."
Q: How is this year's draft different than past drafts?
Connecticut has the fourth overall pick on April 17.
Jesse D. Garrabrandt
“To me, this draft has depth. There are always star players at the top of every draft, but this year, there are more of them all the way through. I compare this to the NBA Draft of 1984 when Olajuwon, Jordan, Barkley and all of those guys. That was a big year in terms of bringing in a whole new group of stars and that’s what this year will mean for our league.”
Q: How much goes into the individual evaluation of a prospect?
“We have seen all of the top players a lot, each of them several times in person. We would go out and spend three or four days in a row with the teams, attending practices, seeing how they interact with each other and then watching game situations.”
Q: Some players who might be available when you pick are Nicole Powell…
“She is really appealing to many coaches because she can play so many positions and is so multi-dimensional on the floor. She can play everywhere from the point to power forward if you needed her to do so. I think the draft has a lot of players like that..”
“A lot of people jumped on her bandwagon during the NCAA Tournament, but the coaches in the WNBA have all been watching her for over a year. She is not a surprise for anyone that has done their homework.”
"She is more of a specific position player. She is mostly a shooting guard that can probably play a little bit of the point. There aren’t many better shooters than her. I saw her play a game in Houston where she scored 39 points."
Q: Someone who is very popular in your state of Connecticut right now is Diana Taurasi. Any thoughts on her potential impact in the WNBA?
“She is that good. She isn’t that good because she is a better athlete or shooter than everybody else, but she has all of the combined intangibles as well as the athletic skills you would want in a player. And the bottom line is that she just knows how to win. She might not be the quickest, but she understands how to win on every team she is on. She has the unique understanding of how to make other players better. In fact, I think that’s what she does better than anything else.”
Q: Any chance you would trade up to get her?
"We have been working to make something happen. We offered half of our team, we offered draft picks, I even offered my first born to get Taurasi. That’s no secret. I actually called Val a year ago and asked her if we could change the system to have a regional draft this year, but that didn’t go over real big. It is no secret that she would mean a lot to our franchise, but if she ends up somewhere else, we’ll have to enjoy watching her and sell out when she comes to town, and that could happen early this year.”