Strother Scores First Assist From Siberia

April 9, 2007
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    Ann Strother (pronounced STRAW-thur) is one of a small handful of newcomers to the Fever roster this summer – joining a cast that includes five returning starters, and former Charlotte Sting stars Sheri Sam and Tammy Sutton-Brown.

    Strother wore No. 43 with the Mercury, and at UConn, but will switch to No. 7 with the Fever, a number she wore with USA Basketball.
    Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
    Strother, two years removed from a stellar college career and a pair of NCAA titles at Connecticut, spent most of the 2006 summer on the sidelines with the Phoenix Mercury. She was relegated to the bench and the inactive list, largely because of a logjam of perimeter talent including Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter. In February, she was acquired from the Mercury, in exchange for former Indiana center Olympia Scott.

    Later this month, she will report to Indiana for her second WNBA training camp and a chance to earn a role with the Fever. A versatile athlete with good perimeter size and good shooting skills, she joins the Fever expecting to compete at shooting guard and small forward – two positions, though, that are two-deep already after the January addition of Sam. Strother’s task will be to find a niche among Sam, returning starters Tamika Catchings and Anna DeForge, and super-sup Tan White.

    Currently in Siberia and looking forward to reporting to camp in Indy, Strothers already has earned her first Fever assist. Having worn No. 43 throughout her high school and college careers, she will switch jersey numbers to accommodate incoming rookie Alison Bales who wore the same jersey number at Duke. When originally posed with the change, she opted for #44. Commenting on her first assist, Strother said, “My dad wore No. 44, so that’s no problem. I like Alison and she’s a great player.”

    [Updated April 10: Strother will now wear No. 7. The significance of the most recent change? It was the number she wore with USA Basketball and, of course, 4 + 3 = 7. Added Strother, "Now I'll have to break the news to my dad!"]

    Emailing between road trips in Russia, Strother answered questions for

    Strother learned of her trade to Indiana via email while playing in Russia.
    Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images Ann, welcome to the Fever! How did you first learn of your being traded to Indiana?
    Ann Strother: “I first learned about being traded after I got home from a road trip. My agent had tried to reach me but my cell phone wasn't working in the area that I was playing in Russia. So I was surprised when I got home to find 3 emails – one from the Fever, one from Phoenix and one from [agent] Boris! I talked to Boris about 10 seconds after I read the email to see if it was really true.”
    FB: Can you share your first reaction to the trade, and why?
    AS: “I was really excited about it. I had a great time in Phoenix and loved everyone down there but I have some family close to Indiana and I know coach Winters from Colorado. I was really excited to hear the news and am looking forward to a new opportunity!”
    FB: I know that you had grown up playing beside Brian Winters' daughter, Cara, in suburban Denver. Have you been able to still keep in touch with the Winters family?
    AS: “I have seen Coach Winters occassionally and always ask about Cara and his son Brendan. Cara was so much fun to play with in AAU, and we used to play against her brother Brendan at the “Y” in Denver. They are such a nice family and I'm really looking forward to catching up with them.”
    FB: What do you look most forward to about the Fever?
    AS: “There are so many exciting things about the Fever. I have a lot of respect for Coach Winters and his staff, and the way the team plays. They seem to work really well together and really are motivated to win a championship! It's always fun to be apart of an organization that wants to work hard and really plays like a team! I’m just really excited to come in and work hard and do what I can to help the team out in anyway.”
    FB: What do you look most forward to about Indianapolis?
    AS: “I grew up in the midwest in Iowa, and have some family outside of Chicago, and around Cedar Rapids. So I am excited to get back to the midwest and I’ll enjoy being in a new city. Indiana is such a basketball town and sports town in general that it will be a fun place to play!”
    FB: How has the weather been in Russia? Which team do you play for?
    AS: “I live in Siberia and it's been COLD! But surprisingly not as cold as you would imagine. I have really enjoyed getting to see a part of the world that not many people would travel to for fun, and play against some good competition. I play for Shelen in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.”
    FB: OK, more importantly, how is your team and how are you playing while in Russia this winter?
    AS: “Our team is young but talented. We have many players that haven't played with each other. As the season has gone along we have gotten more comfortable with each other, but time is running out. There are only a few games left and we are looking to get a few more wins. It’s been my first season to play overseas, so it has been an adjustment for me. There are many things that I have learned as a player and overall, it has been a great experience.”
    FB: Do you find it ironic that you play in the same Russian league as Olympia Scott, the player for whom you were traded? Have the two of you had any opportunity to talk since the trade?
    AS: “The ironic part was that we actually played each other the game after I found out that I was being traded. I think we both knew what was happening but didn't get a chance to talk about it.”

    Strother found herself a part of a draft-day trade a year ago - selected by Houston and traded to Phoenix.
    Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
    FB: You had a great college career, but found yourself relatively stuck behind Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter when it came to playing time in Phoenix. Besides the lack of playing time, can you share a little about your rookie season in the WNBA?
    AS: “It has always been a dream of mine to play in the WNBA. I think before the WNBA even existed I wanted to make one up or play in the NBA. The rookie season is an adjustment from college in many ways - it's harder on your body and the game is more physical and faster; it's an exciting time of your life as well as challenging. I had to finish some classes, say goodbye to friends and leave school early for the training camp. It was a big adjustment, but one that makes you realize that one of your childhood dreams has come true. It really was a great opportunity and experience.”
    FB: From your vantage point, compare and contrast Taurasi and Catchings.
    AS: “I think they have very different games, but both have the competitive drive and will to do whatever it takes to win. I also think they both make their teammates better. I think Tamika is more of a slasher, whereas Dee is more of a shooter, but they are both amazing players and can both score and create for others.”
    FB: What favorite highlights did you take with you from four years at UConn and Coach Auriemma. Which national championship was sweeter?
    AS: “I don't know which is better. They always say the first one is the sweetest but I think they were both incredible! Playing for Coach Auriemma was a great experience. Coach really has a way to bring out the best in his players and get teams to come together. He's an amazing coach and all of the staff around the program was incredible. I think the best part of it all is the family atmosphere that you feel when you get there. I think we all know that we could go back anytime and feel like we never left. And we really never do leave ... especially during March Madness time!”
    FB: Since the trade, have you had any email or phone conversation with any of your new Fever teammates?
    AS: “I've emailed Tamika a few times just to say hi and let her know how excited I am to be coming. She has been really nice and is so excited about this season!”
    FB: Help us get to know Ann Strother a little bit. Name three things you like to do off the court - besides eating and sleeping, of course!
    AS: “When I'm not playing basketball, I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, volunteering, attempting to cook or spending time outside. I spent last fall volunteering at a daycare and really enjoyed the little kids. I have always been interested in medicine and would eventually like to do something with it, but I really have no idea yet. Since I have been in Russia I have enjoyed cooking and learning how to make some crazy Russian meals like Borschdt and Peelmini. I can't say I'm a great cook, but I do make a mean dish of mac & cheese (Kraft of course)! I love being outside and really enjoy the beach and swimming.”
    FB: Thanks for your time, Anna. We'll see you in training camp!