Says new Chicago Sky coach Bo Overton on the role in the organization of star Candice Dupree, "Well, I call her about twice a day to run these (ideas) through her so that she’s OK with who we draft."
Courtesy of the Chicago Sky
Coming off a 5-29 season as a first-year expansion franchise, improvement for the Chicago Sky seems inevitable. But new coach and general manager Bo Overton -- who was hired in December to replace NBA legend Dave Cowens -- seems to believe that his team has already gotten better. And with the third and 10th picks in Wednesday's WNBA Draft, he's hoping to take another step.
Overton spoke recently with WNBA.com editor Adam Hirshfield about his team's offseason maneuverings, his plans for the draft and his hopes for the 2007 season.
Q. Being that you're still fairly new to the job, how have you and the Sky
been preparing for the Draft?
A. "In the past few months, we've picked up Monique Curry in the Dispersal Draft and we signed Dominique Canty and Kayte Christensen who were free agents. I think those moves have done a lot to protect us as an organization, so that we can go into the Draft and going after the best player we can get. We don't have to worry about going (specifically) to get a post player or a guard. We've done a good job of getting insurance.
"Being able to get Monique in the Dispersal Draft really set things off for us, because she was basically dropped in our lap. We didn't have to get her in the (entry) draft. We didn't have to sign her as a free agent. Getting her for nothing basically put our organization a year ahead (of schedule). Instead of this being our second year and having just another draft pick, we got a great player (with no strings attached) and we've really been helped a lot by this. Now, with Candice Dupree, it's like getting two top-five-level picks."
Q. What specific role do you play in scouting, planning and player selection
for the draft? What about the other coaches?
A. "One of the unique things about our organization right now is with me coming on board and with our two assistants -- Stephanie White and Roger Reding -- is that we've been in the college game, so we already know a lot of these players. We've recruited a lot of them, we've scouted them, we've played against them, we're coaching some of them. All of our assistants -- with Steve Key -- have been out watching these players. My role is to gather all of the information and decide what the best pick is for this team."
Q. When do you actually start preparing for the draft?
A. "We've been preparing for it since the day we got here. We have lists of guards, forwards, posts we have a list of juniors, too. That will help us out next year, and it could even help (dictate) who we'll take this year. We've done a couple of mock drafts already, so we're pretty much on schedule."
Q. Are there any specific traits you look for in prospects?
A. "I think that this organization is built on the type of players we have in here. All you have to do is look at players like Candice Dupree, Brooke Wyckoff, Stacey Dales. Look at the players they brought in here last year this is the type of player they want: a talented athlete who's great in the community and a great person."
Q. We've already talked about all of the additions to your team, but you
also recently traded Chelsea Newton back to Sacramento. With all of those maneuvers,
are you approaching the draft as if the team has specific areas or holes you
are looking to address?
A. "The reason we got the free agents and Monique Curry was to give us the insurance where we don't now have to go into the draft looking (only) for a post player. We don't have to necessarily take a point guard. I think we can go get the best WNBA-ready pro player on the board, and that's what we'll do."
Q. So with that third pick, are you targeting a specific group of players
at this point?
A. "We have four or five scenarios we've been looking at. You know, if this one's gone and this one's gone, then we'll do this. You can play that game all day long. I just got a phone call (a few days ago) when I was asked, 'What happens if Sylvia Fowles comes out?' 'What happens if Candace Parker comes out?' We have to account for scenarios like that. So I think we're looking at all of those and we'll be ready for them."
Q. What about at No. 10, the pick you received in the Chelsea Newton trade?
Do things change at that point of the first round?
A. "I don't think things change. Being able to trade Chelsea what a great player and kid she is is a neat thing for her, because she gets to be on a good team that wants her. But it also helps us, because with Monique, we're kind of heavy at that position. So we move Chelsea and now have another first-round pick, with which we can get another talented player."
Q. With Candice Dupree as your cornerstone, what kind of role does she play
in your deciding which player to draft? In other words, are you looking for
someone who will fit and play well with her?
A. "Well, I call her about twice a day to run these (ideas) through her so that she's OK with who we draft. I think she plays a huge role. She's starting to be more of a leader. As she gets a little older in this organization -- especially with it being an expansion team -- the people coming in are going to be younger. She's going to have to act as a leader with them. And we'll be looking to her for that."
Q. How deep is this year's draft crop?
A. "I've heard some people saying that it's not (deep), but I think there are some good players out there. Especially for us. We're planning on getting two of them that will make our team, so we think it's a good crew."
Q. Who are some of the top prospects that you feel can or will make an immediate
impact in the WNBA this season?
A. "Everybody knows that (Alison) Bales and (Jessica) Davenport are your two posts. And (Lindsey) Harding and (Ivory) Latta (are your two points). Then there are some others moving up the board. Depending on what certain teams need, I think you start with those four, then you fill in."
Q. How important is the NCAA Tournament in helping you make last-minute
decisions on players? How much does a player's postseason performance impact
their complete body of work?
A. "I think some players have really stepped up in the Tournament. Armintie Price, for one. I think that is really cool to watch. Look at what Katie Gearlds did this past weekend. I think (postseason play) is really important because you get to see these players on the big stage, and it's the same stage they'll be playing on in the WNBA. A few are really stepping up and making plays and proving they belong in this league."
Q. The Sky went 5-29 last season. With the new players you have brought
in and the draft picks on the horizon, what are your expectations for 2007?
A. "I think there's a lot of excitement around here. If you talk to people in the organization who went through it the first year, the coaches, the fans here in town they're excited and they know how great (a successful team) can be. And they did all of the hard work last year. Now I'm just kind of plugging in pieces.
"We're going to have a lot more talent, even without the draft. How many games will we win? I don't know. But we'll have a deeper, better team. And we had some people who were banged up last year, who will now be healthy and ready to go, so there's a lot of excitement."
Q. Are the playoffs within reach?
A. "I'm not going to say they're not. But I also know that we're going to do this the right way. It's not a one-month fix. We're going to do it the right way with the right type of people and just keep getting better practice by practice, month by month and year by year."
Follow the draft picks Coach Overton and his Chicago Sky make in Wednesday's WNBA Draft right here at WNBA.com.