Rookies Discuss Transition:
From College to Training Camp

Top draft picks La’Tangela Atkinson and Kasha Terry have played side-by-side before – well, very near one another, anyway. Atkinson, from Bishopville, S.C., and Terry, from Douglasville, Ga., played head-to-head for four seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference – Atkinson leading North Carolina to the Final Four as a senior and Terry guiding conference rival Georgia Tech. Now, though, they find themselves bidding for playing time and roster spots during the Indiana Fever’s 2006 training camp. Atkinson and Terry took some time to answer questions with’s Curt Hunter. You both are entering your first season in the WNBA. You’ve entered your first pro training camp within weeks of finishing your collegiate career. Describe what the quick turnaround has been like for you.

La’Tangela Atkinson: “It’s tough, but at the same time you’ve got to come out and get yourself prepared to play to the best of your ability. For me, it came pretty fast. I was playing at North Carolina and it seemed like the next week I was here (in Fever camp). But I think I’ve adjusted pretty well. I’m just excited to be at the next level.”

Kasha Terry: “It was a difficult turnaround just because of the level of play that we knew we’d be coming in to. It was good for us though, simply because we were in a lot better shape than some of the people that we were coming out and playing with. The only down side was thinking, ‘Okay, now I’ve got to go up another level so quick.’ But, we were already in shape and ready for it.”

FB: With your college season beginning in October and the WNBA season not getting over until September, are either of you concerned at all about running into a wall midway through your rookie year?

LA: “I think you just have to eat the right foods and take care of your body. Treat your injuries and do what you have to do to get your body prepared each day. Stretching is an important part of preventing injuries, which is something we’re always doing. You can’t be concerned about running into a wall. All you can do is get yourself prepared to play every day.”

KT: “They (Fever training staff) take good care of us after practice. They don’t ignore any problems we’re having. We’re always just listening to our bodies and addressing any nagging injuries we have.”

FB: Talk about draft day and what that was like for you emotionally. Did either of you have an idea of where you might end up, or were you just hoping to have your name called?

LA: “For me, the day before the draft the coaches called me. At first, I didn’t know who it was. I was like, ‘317 area code? Who’s that?’ But I picked it up and they were like, ‘Hey Tangie! How are you?’ And I said, ‘Hello? Can I ask who’s calling?’ So then they told me they were the coaching staff for the Indiana Fever. And the first thing they wanted me to do was to tell them a little bit about myself, my family and my background. At that point, with the draft being the next day, I put two and two together. I thought they might be interested in drafting me. The next day at the draft when they called my name, I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Everything I wanted was there. I graduated from high school, I was about to graduate from college, I always wanted to play professional basketball and I just got drafted. So, I hugged my mom and the rest of my family. It was just really exciting.”

KT: “For me it was kind of different because I initially didn’t expect to be looked at by any WNBA coaches at all. I think it was my last three games in the ACC Tournament that really got people to look at me. So, I went ahead to the combine in Boston. Draft day I was just thinking, ‘Somebody pick me.’ I didn’t care who. I just wanted to hear my name called. I didn’t care who said it or where it was. I just wanted an opportunity to go play somewhere. I actually didn’t get to hear my name called because when the pick was announced they were interviewing Cappie Poindexter. I was watching on TV and after the interview they showed the three picks that took place during the interview, and my name was one of them. So, I didn’t get to hear my name called, but it was still exciting.”

FB: What have you been doing with your free time since getting into town?

LA: “Free time?! Sleep. We haven’t had a whole lot of free time since camp started. Well, we had yesterday (Thursday) off. We went to the Pacers game and went to the mall. I just try to relax if I have any free time.”

KT: “I went to the Pacers game, as well. Get my rest. Really, like Tangie said, we haven’t had a whole lot of time to do much. I just try to recoup.”

FB: Have either of you set personal goals for your first season in the WNBA? Or is there anything specific you’d like to get out of year one?

LA: “I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I’m a team player. In college I did all the dirty work. Hustle. I like to hustle. I like to play defense. But if the team needs me to score, I’ll score. My goal is just to learn from the vets and listen to the coaches and learn from them as well. I think I’m improving every day. So, I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”

KT: “I just want to contribute in some way. Whether it’s playing off the bench, playing defense, contributing offensively, I just want to help this team win. Whatever role I find myself in, I’ll be happy.”

FB: Do either of you think you will have to adjust your game at all as you get acclimated to the WNBA? Or, do you think you’ll be able to take your college game and transfer in to the next level?

LA: “Coming from North Carolina, we had some of the top players in the country. My role was to do the little things, give an assist here or grab a rebound. Just get the job done. But my first day here Coach Lin [Dunn] came up to and told me I needed to be more aggressive offensively. She told me this before we even started practicing. I hadn’t had that mindset in a while. So, I need to get back in the mode of getting the ball to the cup.”

KT: “I think I have to get more offensive-minded. In college I was more of a defensive player. I had players on my team that were more offensive-oriented than I was. So I tried to grab rebounds, block some shots and run the floor. I need to develop my offensive game. You really need to be able to do everything out there and fill in wherever the team needs you.”