Making Her Point
After many doubted that she would even make the team as a third round pick (33rd overall) in the 2004 WNBA Draft, Minnesota Lynx guard Amber Jacobs proved doubters wrong by being named a starter in just her third season in the WNBA. The former Boston College point guard and A.P. All-America Honorable Mention is putting up the best numbers of her young career with averages of 8.3 points, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 rebounds while starting in all of the Lynx 28 games so far.
Mike Slane: How has the season been so far as a starter for the first time in your three-year career?
Amber Jacobs: "I've been excited that I've been able to have the opportunity to come in and be a starter. I'm just doing my best to run this team, but the season has been frustrating record-wise."
M.S.: Do you feel that you have proven the people who didn't even think you'd make the team wrong by becoming a starter?
A.J.: "Obviously the expectations of me making the team my rookie season were not high at all. I was just glad to make a WNBA team my rookie year, but then my second year I wanted to be more than just a person that made the team and kind of just sat the bench and played a couple minutes here and there. And especially this year with having the starting point guard position open, I really had to focus coming in because I wanted to show people that I could handle this job. My teammates were confident in me and I tried to work my hardest to prove to them that I can handle this."
M.S.: Speaking of just making this team in the first place, when did you know that you could play in the WNBA?
A.J.: "I think my rookie season when I did make the team. I thought 'okay, I can do this. I can continue to get better and learn.' I had Teresa Edwards and Helen Darling to learn from in my rookie season. I felt that I'm the type of player that wants to continue getting better and will work hard on any weaknesses I have. I had the intention each year to come in and prove to them that I should be here."
M.S.: Were there any other players who were role models to you or players whose games you copied growing up?
A.J.: "Not really. I can't necessarily say that I've really had a role model growing up. My dad pretty much coached me and kind of taught me the game of basketball. But I remember the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team and watching their year-long run when they went like 50-0, and that was just something I wanted to aspire to. And obviously now I'm playing against some of those girls who were on that team; Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie. It's pretty neat to know that you're in the caliber of class with these ladies who kind of paved the way for us."
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
M.S.: How has it been adjusting to new head coach Carolyn Jenkins?
A.J.: "I think C.J. has come in and done a phenomenal job. We really respect her and all that she has done for us. What we're mainly trying to focus on is to keep believing in each other. We're a very young team, but I think we know that we have the talent and ability to be a great team. It's just a matter of putting together the pieces and putting together 40 minute games and be consistant. Right now that's not what we're doing."
M.S.: What do you expect from this team next season or the season after?
A.J.: "I wouldn't necessarily say that we're looking that far ahead because there's still a lot of this season left. But from the organization and the coaching staff, they believe in this team and in each of the 12 players. They believe that this is the core group of girls that can get the job done. So hopefully with experience and people going to play overseas, we can continue to come together within this next year and put it together and make a run."
M.S. Do you plan on playing overseas during this upcoming offseason?
A.J.: "The last two years I've coached at the University of Toledo as an assistant coach, but this year I'm playing overseas in Italy. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity and the experience. It's something new and different for me. When I decided to step away from coaching for a little bit I knew my focus wanted to be on playing and continue getting better as a basketball player."
M.S.: Do you plan on coaching when your playing career is over?
A.J.: "I think I'd love to get back into coaching once my playing days are over. But I feel like right now at the young age that I'm at, I want to focus on my playing. And I didn't think I could really handle both of those jobs to where I wanted to be as a player, so I think stepping away from coaching helped me focus on this season and where I was and hopefully continue to improve in the following years."
M.S.: What do you like most about living in Minnesota during the season?
A.J.: "I love the city of Minneapolis. We're there at a great time during the summer where we don't have to handle the awful winters. I think just the fact that I'm together with my teammates, they are all awesome people and I love being around them. It's just fun to be around a group of girls that you're close with and enjoy being around for four and a half months."
M.S.: What advice would you give a young basketball player who wants to play in the WNBA someday?
A.J.: "I think what any player would say is hard work. I'm not the most athletic, the strongest, or the quickest, but I worked hard and I wanted to achieve something that many people didn't think I'd achieve. That took a lot of hard work and a lot of discipline through it all, but I realized that I also love this game and wanted to show people that I'm enjoying playing this game. So with that hard work and just having fun, here I am today."