Plank Bleeds Buckeye Red
Fifth-year assistant coach Julie Plank was interviewed recently to talk about her offseason schedule which is split between managing the Fever’s offseason training sessions and evaluating college talent for the upcoming WNBA Draft.
A former point guard at Ohio State, Plank is particularly proud of her alma mater’s current No. 2 ranked women’s basketball team. She is a former college assistant at Stanford and Vanderbilt, and assisted for a year with the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team. She played under coach Tara Vanderveer during her final three seasons at OSU, and later served under Vanderveer while at Stanford.
Plank has been on the bench through every game in Fever history.
In the second of her two-part interview, below, Plank analyzes her own game as a college point guard, as well as those of some of the nation’s top college seniors.
Fever Website: You’ve recruited and scouted at both the college level (Stanford and Vanderbilt) and now at the pro level. What are some of the differences?
JP: “You are looking for a lot of the same things, but I think more at the pro level you are looking for versatility, strength and speed. You’re looking for players who can do more than just one job, they have to be able to do a lot more at the pro level – players who can do more than just shoot, or just handle the ball, or just get to the free throw line. You have to look for players who can do different things, and compete at the highest level. Quickness is a big factor; they have to be able to make decisions quicker because the game is obviously quicker and faster. But the intangible things are similar: what type of teammate are they? What type of energy do they bring to your program, what type of leader are they?”
“In college, you might be more willing to recruit a player at a specific position – say a point guard or a shooting guard. At the pro level, you look for more versatility. Things are always changing, even from game-to-game. You look for players who can help your team in more ways then just by doing one thing well. In college, the need for versatility isn’t always as great.”
JP: “I’m obviously a huge Buckeyes fan. Any of their sports teams, I really follow. I’m proud of the women’s basketball team. I coached with Jim Foster at Vanderbilt, and he’s done a great job at Ohio State. They have a great mix of players. Each player is different and they have a good mix. Jessica Davenport inside is a huge key for them, and being one of the top players in the league as just a sophomore is impressive. Caity Matter is a senior, who we are looking at, and a nice shooter on the outside. They have a nice inside-outside combination and a good supporting cast around them. They’re playing really well together, and I’ll be seeing them against Minnesota this week, against McCarville. We’ll get to see a really great matchup with McCarville against a really good center in Davenport. I’m really proud of Ohio State and the job that Jim’s done there.”
FW: How closely do you follow the Buckeyes?
JP: “I follow the teams’ rankings pretty closely, but I don’t know that much about all the teams all the time. I really like Andy Geiger, the athletic director there, who I had worked for at Stanford. I was really excited when he took the job 10 years ago. I knew that good things would happen there. I’m proud of the facilities, and their Sears Cup (overall college sports performance rating) recognition has risen each year. Those are the things that I notice mostly when I go back there.”
FW: How would you analyze Julie Plank, the former Ohio State player?
JP: “C'mon now, we don't have to talk about that! I think I was a good leader. I was a point guard. Some people would say I couldn’t shoot, but I'm not so sure. I knew who to get the ball to, though. I knew how to compete and I think I brought a lot out of my teammates.”
“I was a walk-on my freshman year. I walked-on and played hardly at all. Tara Vanderveer was our coach my second year. That year, I became the starting point guard, and I started for three years. We were about 23-5 my senior year and we won the Big Ten. And from there, things really took off for the program with more Big Ten titles and even a trip to the Final Four in 1993 with Nancy Darsch and Katie Smith.”
FW: What are the first two-to-three thoughts that you would use to analyze the nine seniors on the Wooden Award Midseason Watch List?
Jacqueline Batteast, Notre Dame – JP: “Scorer, nice shooter, versatile.”
Steffanie Blackmon, Baylor – JP: “Aggressive, high-low post and physical.”
Sandora Irvin, TCU – JP: “Shot blocker, tremendous skills and athletic.”
Dionnah Jackson, Oklahoma – JP: “High-energy player, combo-guard, strong off the dribble, up-tempo.”
Tameka Jackson, LSU – JP: “Great leader, runs the show, explosive, scorer off the dribble, nice pull-up shooter.”
Janel McCarville, Minnesota – JP: “Tough, warrior, great passer, makes other people look better, very physical.”
Kendra Wecker, Kansas State – JP: “Explosive, versatile, can put the ball on the floor and has great 3-point range, super competitive.”
Tan White, Mississippi State – JP: “Instant offense, great scorer who can get shots off anytime, very versatile.”
Tanisha Wright, Penn State – JP: “Slasher, great defender, smart player, competitive.”