Louisville's Angel McCoughtry was selected by Atlanta with the No. 1 overall pick.
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Angel McCoughtry has been in this position before.
When she arrived at Louisville four years ago, the school had little women's basketball tradition to speak of, having only made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament three times and never advancing past the second round. Four years later, McCoughtry led the Cardinals to the National Championship game, completing a remarkable turnaround that has folks in Louisville ready to erect a statue of her likeness on campus.
McCoughtry has another program to build from the bottom up now that she has joined the Atlanta Dream as the first overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft. She comes to a team in only its second year of existence and only four wins to its credit. McCoughtry has built a program from scratch before; can she do it again?
After the draft was in the books and all 39 players were picked, WNBA.com's Mark Bodenrader caught up with McCoughtry to discuss draft day and the task ahead of her.
WNBA.com: Did you follow the mock drafts or where people were saying that you would be drafted?
McCoughtry: “You can’t follow that stuff because you’ve got the season to worry about. I just had to focus on Louisville and what we were trying to get accomplished. I had no complaints. We did very well. So I can’t really focus on that stuff because everybody is going to have their own thought process.”
WNBA.com: So you weren’t thinking I could go to Atlanta, Washington, Minnesota, etc?
McCoughtry: “No because my thought process was wherever I go, I’m going to give it all I got and try to win a WNBA championship.”
WNBA.com: Take us back to the NCAA Tournament when Louisville was making its run and doing so well. What was that experience like?
McCoughtry: “We were just trying to win the championship, win the whole thing. I just felt like we were there and just let is slip away. But I’m just proud of what we accomplished and I’m just looking to the future.”
WNBA.com: Is it tough coming from losing in the final to Connecticut and then going to another emotional event like this?
McCoughtry: “The interesting thing about that is I was sulking for a while, but then I realized, ‘Hey, I’ve got something to look forward to,’ and that kind of lifted my spirits. So it’s actually fun.”
WNBA.com: So what do you know about Atlanta?
McCoughtry: “I know they have a lot of great players coming in. I’m excited to help their program and I can’t wait to go down there.”
WNBA.com: What do you bring to the Dream?
McCoughtry: “I’m going to bring a lot of passion and a lot of hard work. I’m going to bring it on both ends of the floor. I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do because I’m the rookie.”
WNBA.com: Are you going to go in with the mindset of hoping to crack the rotation?
McCoughtry: “I don’t care. I’m the rookie. Whatever you want me to do I’m going to do.”
WNBA.com: As you know, Atlanta was an expansion team last year and had only four wins. How do you prepare for a situation like that?
McCoughtry: “It was their first year, so they were just cracking in. It’s the second year and we’re going to start getting things rolling now.”
WNBA.com: You have the chance to do what you did at Louisville now in Atlanta, and help build up a program.
McCoughtry: “I think that can happen. I definitely do.”
WNBA.com: What do you think you need to work on to succeed at the next level?
McCoughtry: “It’s a more physical game. Girls are stronger and smarter. I know I’ve got to get a little more muscle on me, continuing working on my IQ and just continuing working on my skills and sharpen them up a little bit.”
WNBA.com: Did the Dream contact you after you were drafted?
McCoughtry: “Yeah, I talked to the coach and she said she’s very excited and I can’t wait to get down there and see her.”