Winters Look at the Draft

April 15, 2005
Within just hours of the 2005 WNBA Draft, Indiana Head Coach Brian Winters took time to talk about his team’s preparation for the Fever’s selections. Indiana enters Saturday’s draft with the No. 2 pick. The first round of the draft may be viewed live on ESPN2, beginning at 12:00 Noon (ET). NBA TV will carry all three rounds of the draft beginning at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

For up-to-date WNBA Draft information, click here.

Q: How have you been preparing for the upcoming draft? What methods do you utilize?

A: “I think you start preparing for the draft very early. You start thinking about it when your season ends – looking at how you think your team needs to improve, and making a list of needs. We scout a lot of players both on film and in person. We go out and scout all the college talent. If it’s a player within the WNBA, we review tapes of them and their abilities. And we look at a lot of statistics, both in the college and the pros. Occasionally we’ll talk with other coaches and seek other opinions. Usually we’ll start with statistics and film, and then when we get closer, we might find some more personal information through a coach or someone close to her. We want to learn what kind of person she is, how she reacts, how does she learn the best, those kinds of things.”
Q: Are there specific holes or weaknesses that you’re looking to bolster with your picks?

A: “You always look to find your weaknesses, and the needs of your team. I think we can always use more leadership and use more perimeter shooting. You can always look for that special talent that is better than everyone else. Especially picking high in the draft, you always hope you can find that special talent that can put you over the top in terms of winning a championship. For our team this year, shooting is important, we’re looking at post players, someone who can dribble-drive and handle pressure at the end of games, someone who can make a big play.”
Q: What are the most important traits you look for in a prospect?

A: “You first start with their bodies – are they strong? Are they athletic? What type of quickness do they have? You start there, then you look at their skill level – dribbling, passing and shooting as they apply to what kind of position they play on the court. And then you look at the intangibles – the heart, the mind, do they play hard all the time? Are they leaders? Do they just want to fit in? You have to look at what type of people they are.”
Q: What players have impressed you the most?

A: “Probably the five top players in the draft are Sandora Irvin (TCU), Kendra Wecker (Kansas State), Janel McCarville (Minnesota), Tan White (Mississippi State), probably Temeka Johnson (LSU). Basically those five, and Sancho Lyttle (Houston) is up there. After those five or six, it usually gets down to team needs.”
Q: What prospects do you feel can make an immediate impact in the league this year?

A: “Well, you probably start with those top five players I mentioned. They could make a pretty good impact, a few might even become starters. Then you have to look at Lyttle, Kara Braxton who did not play at Georgia this year, maybe [Jacqueline] Batteast (Notre Dame), Dionnah Jackson (Oklahoma), [Shyra] Ely (Tennessee), maybe [Kristin] Haynie from Michigan State. Those types of players might make a difference off a bench this year, but in a couple of years could certainly become starters in this league.”
Q: How important is the NCAA Tournament in helping you make any last-minute decisions?

A: “It’s helpful in the sense that you see players against the best competition and the best teams. In a one-and-done and your out situation, they’re usually high-pressure games. They’re usually well-rested for those games and they’re trying to move on. It’s good to see them play in those games, but you can’t just rest your opinion on those games. You have to see them over time. Through an entire season and even in previous seasons. You have to see if they’ve gotten better from their sophomore year to their junior year, and from their junior year to their senior year. If you don’t see a lot of improvement, then you start to worry a little bit. But if you see growth, then that’s always a good thing.”
Q: Would you consider trading picks or players?

A: “I think when you look at the draft, you consider everything that can possibly happen. It doesn’t look like we’ll trade our pick, but I’m not going to say that we won’t because you never know. If someone gives you an offer that you can’t refuse, that can really improve your team and put you over the top, then maybe you do make a deal. You keep your options open. You look at other teams, see what their needs are and speculate on what they want. Maybe there’s a deal that makes sense that can help both teams. I think you always consider everything.”
Q: How much foreign scouting consumes your time?

A: “Lin Dunn went overseas and spent a couple of weeks scouting some players this winter. She watched some of our current players, some players that have played in the WNBA, some players that are on the cusp and some of the younger European players. She was in Spain, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. She saw some of the better Euro leagues. It’s good to have eyes over there. We also talk to some of the agents over there, people who know who the better players are. We keep track of some of the statistics and sometimes we get some film from time to time. We’re always looking for any player who is improving and getting better, and might want to play in the WNBA.”
Q: Are you more likely to fill your needs through the draft, free agency or trades?

A: “Those are all viable ways to do it. When you fill your needs with the draft, you’re looking for a player that can be with your team for a long period of time. Free agency can be a stop-gap measure, but it can also be a long-term option depending on the player, the player’s age, and what your needs are. With trades, you’re really trying to fit a need on your team, you trade somebody and try to get something back that fills a need on your team. Sometimes you think you’ve got a great trade and the other team doesn’t want to do it – and sometimes that forces you to look more at free agency.”