The Houston Comets may have traded away its first-round pick earlier in the year, but coach Van Chancellor, who has pretty much seen it all in his tenure with the four-time champion Houston Comets, thinks he can still improve his team in the 2004 WNBA Draft. What does he think his team needs to return to glory and how will he go about accomplishing it? Chancellor recently sat down with and shared his thoughts.

Q. How do you see the 2004 WNBA Draft taking shape?
“This is going to be a very, very good Draft. There is a good number of picks that will come in and make an immediate impact in the WNBA. I think there are potentially more starters and rotation players than we have had in a Draft since the great ABL Dispersal Draft.”

Q. Are there any specific players who you think can come in and make an immediate impact?
“I look for the players like Nicole Powell, Diana Taurasi, Alana Beard, Vanessa Hayden, Chandi Jones and Shameka Christon to come in and either start for their teams and compete for jobs or be in the rotation early.”

Q. How has the NCAA Tournament and the exposure of some of these women affected their Draft standing?
“The NCAA Tournament is going to go a long way toward determining who is going to be placed where in the top 10 picks or so. I think that there are a lot of coaches who cannot decide whether they like strawberry, chocolate or vanilla ice cream. They like all three. They already know that the ice cream is going to come with whipped cream and a cherry on top. They just don’t know which way to go, whether to go with a big player, a perimeter player, a power forward.”

Houston's first pick will come in the second round.
Bill Baptist
WNBAE/Getty Images

Q. So can a team really do no wrong in the first round?
“The good news is that they are all picking from a positive. You know you’re going to get somebody that you like. In the past, with us, having picked at the bottom of the Draft, it’s sometimes a negative. But when you pick from a positive, it’s hard to go wrong.”

Q. With the 11th pick, do you think you can get an impact player?
“Not only is this Draft good at the top, but I think the bottom of the first round is very solid as well. Teams with late picks, such as Detroit and Los Angeles, will get very good players.”

Q. Are there any specific areas you want to focus on to improve the Comets?
“We are trying to find guards. We have spent years trying to find and develop post players, now we’re trying to find guards.”

Q. The Comets have already had a very active offseason in the free agent and trade markets. How does free agency affect the way you shape your team?
“Free agency has changed the scope of the WNBA. I think it changes a team’s entire philosophy. Now, not only do you have to build for this year, but the salary cap and free agency requires that you plan for years in advance. You have to be extremely careful about how many players you tie up for long-term contracts.”

Q. How does it affect the Draft?
“Free agency makes the Draft even more vital to a team because those are players that can come in and help your team, but will also fit under the salary cap. Regardless of all of that, you must have quality players.”

Q. How much can the Draft help a team to improve in just one season?
“With the dispersal of the Cleveland Rockers roster and the quality of this Draft, I would not be surprised if we see another Detroit-type situation to develop where a team can go from last to first. I think a lot of teams are going to pick up two quality players. One from Cleveland and the other from this Draft. Sadly, there are going to be some players who made rosters last year who won’t make rosters this year.”