Angel McCoughtry Chats with FIBAEurope.com's Paul Nilsen
|Angel McCoughtry is averaging 21.3 points per game overseas while playing for Fenerbahce|
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
Having already established herself as a bona fide star on both sides of the Atlantic, the overseas profile of Angel McCoughtry went into orbit earlier this month when she was catapulted further into the limelight after being snapped up by EuroLeague Women front-runners Fenerbahce.
The ambitious Turkish giants who originally hit the headlines last summer with the acquisition of Diana Taurasi, decided to turn to McCoughtry after Taurasi departed, as they continue their relentless pursuit of a EuroLeague Women Championship.
Subject of a sizable transfer fee, McCoughtry had been merrily turning on the style with MKB EuroLeasing Sopron before this latest twist of a never-less-than fascinating career which is set to continue at breakneck speed.
Having finally caught her breath now that Fener has safely maneuvered their way past the Qualifying Round with 10 wins and no losses, Angel reflects on a hectic 12 months.
WNBA.com - I guess it’s been a bittersweet time for you recently with some great highs and a big disappointment. Let’s talk about that latter first. Do you still have any lingering thought from last year's WNBA Finals, and how do you look back on the 2010 season generally?
Angel McCoughtry - You always question yourself and re-live the moment, especially since we came so close to winning. However, we are a team who both win and lose as a team. In my eyes, the 2010 WNBA season for the Atlanta Dream was a huge success. It was a great learning experience for me as a professional player with a lot of excitement for the coaches, the team and especially for the Atlanta Dream fans. You always think about how you played, the shots you took and things you would do differently, all of which is a part of maturing.
WNBA.com - Getting onto the highs, I bet winning the gold at the World Championship made up in part for the disappointment and not winning the WNBA Championship? What was your experience like in the Czech Republic on and off the court?
|McCoughtry averaged 21.1 points per game in 2010, finishing third overall in the scoring race|
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images
WNBA.com – Your first season overseas playing in EuroLeague Women was an incredible success for you. You put up superb numbers and the team went further than expected having lost their first three games in the first phase. Was your first year everything you expected in Slovak Republic with Kosice and what were the highs and lows on and off the court?
McCoughtry - My first year in Kosice was perfect for my rookie overseas experience. I had played overseas before but never for months. I was a little worried about how I was going to like being away from home for so long. However, I had a great time in Kosice and I was glad I was able to make an impact in such a short time. They were so appreciative and happy that we were getting some wins. I really didn't have any lows except the sun never shined too much and it was cold...brrrrrr!
WNBA.com – You arrived in Sopron to pull on an MKB EuroLeasing vest full of confidence with a gold medal around your neck and an All Star player. However, with expectation usually comes a degree of pressure. That second season can prove difficult and especially when at a new club. How was the season for you in Sopron?
McCoughtry - There were other clubs that were interested but I signed with Sopron, Hungary really early in the season. It's always an adjustment when you play for a new club and when you have to get used to their system. I made the best of it and played hard for the club. I was close to the City Centre in the downtown area and made my way around to the restaurants and enjoyed shopping. I drove to Vienna, Austria which was an hour away and also to Budapest which was about two to three hours away. I saw some really beautiful countries on my days off.
WNBA.com – Then the bombshell, Fenerbahce pay a fee to get your services. How shocked were you when it all happened and what are your feelings of playing for a team like Fenerbahce who are one of the favorites for Final Four?
McCoughtry - We played Fenerbahce while I was playing for MKB Euroleasing and I had a very good game. When my agent called me I was very excited for the opportunity. I am very happy to be in Istanbul, Turkey and be a part of this team which has so many very talented players.
WNBA.com – The EuroLeague Women All-Star Game will arrive soon. While it seems to be in fashion for players to dismiss individual honors and accolades, it’s all just being polite isn’t it? Surely deep down you guys are all fiercely competitive, whatever you may say, and you must get a thrill at being an All Star or vying for MVP awards?
McCoughtry - Yes it's being polite and humble I guess. It's always an honor to be mentioned as an All Star or to be mentioned in the MVP Awards. To be recognized for your talent is always a really good feeling!
WNBA.com – As an extension of that last question, you have made such a big impact so quickly and being still relative early in your career, where do you think your game is at right now and how do you feel you can take it up another notch?
McCoughtry - As a professional player, you're always thinking of ways to get better and improve your game. I'm going to be wiser in my shot selection and continue working on my three-point shot. I'm very offensive minded and want to score, it takes discipline to play within a system.
WNBA.com – Looking ahead, I guess there is no real mystery in terms of your plans when you head back home this summer for the 2011 WNBA season. Is it simply to go one better this year?
McCoughtry - Definitely. It's always our ultimate goal to win a WNBA Championship.
WNBA.com – Looking forward, it’s now 18 months before the 2012 Olympics in London. For any athlete, hearing the word "Olympics" must really light a fire inside you, huh?
McCoughtry - Being an Olympian is the epitome of sports for an athlete. You have an opportunity to make history with the best in the world and it's something you will always be remembered by.