Looking Ahead with Jim Petersen

Jonah Ballow with Jim Petersen

Jonah Ballow: You're on the coaching staff, the newest member of this team as well as several new players and additions to this squad. What do you think about only returning five from last year to this year's team?

Jim Petersen: Well I think that it shows you that we have five talented players we wanted back and I think that it also shows you that we did our homework in terms of scouting and bringing in some really talented players. I think that with the roster being shaved by one--you can't carry twelve, you can only carry eleven--that hurts. You also can't carry anybody on injured reserve, so you've got to have relative health. I think the players that we have, we have a lot of youth on our team which is good, we have players that have been very healthy in their careers. We've got a lot of talent. We've got perhaps in terms of Seimone Augustus, Candice Wiggins, Renee Montgomery and Kelly Miller, I mean you're talking about one of the most talented back courts in the WNBA. With the addition of Quanitra Hollingsworth, you've got Charde Houston, and Nicky Anosike, who were both first and second team all-WNBA rookie team, you've got some really talented players. I'm really excited for Quanitra Hollingsworth. She's big, she's athletic, even though she's from VCU and people shook their heads as to why we took her, when I saw her play and scouted her, I said we had to have her. I think she's the best center in the draft, better than Courtney Paris, better than Kia Vaughn. We've got the best point guard in Renee Montgomery in the draft, we've got the second-best swing player behind Angel Mccoughtry in Rashanda McCants, and we got the best center. That's a pretty good draft.

JB: You played in the post in the NBA, and now as a coach in the WNBA you're going to be working with post players primarily and Quanitra in her first year. What are you looking to tailor their game around, especially during these practice sessions leading up to training camp?

Petersen: I think it's just good for me to have such a talented group of people. Charde Houston and Nicky Anosike, you know... Nicky's a super big competitor, which we saw last year. For her and Quanitra to go at it everyday in practice, I'm looking forward to seeing those battles, it's going to be amazing. With LaToya Pringle, bringing her in from Phoenix in the Nicole Ohlde trade, we've got someone who's going to try to share time with Charde Houston and Christi Thomas. It's going to be a fun thing for me to work with such talented people. I think that this is probably, relatively speaking, I played eight years in the NBA, this is probably the most talented team in terms of pedigree and in terms of what they've done in their careers, I've been around. I'm very excited and honored to be a part of working with these gals.

JB: Coach Z, I spoke to him a couple months ago about the mentality of this squad, what he wants them to represent on a nightly basis, and he said defense is the number one key. We usually hear about that in the NBA, NFL, defense is always the key. What do you expect from this team defensively, and then offensively, is this going to be a squad that pushes the pace or a perimeter-oriented team, or are you going to try to pound it down low?

Petersen: It's going to be a face-paced team. Obviously when you have Renee Montgomery and Kelly Miller at the point guard position, and you also mentioned we have Candice Wiggins who can play the point guard position, playing along with Seimone Augustus, who...Seimone Augustus is a top-10 player in the WNBA. She's an Olympian, she's an All-Star, she led the league in scoring a couple years, she's one of those gals that can get her own shot at any time, so you can play a fast-paced game. That being said, we still want to pound it inside, because I think the winning combination is playing inside-out, dumping it inside and collapsing the defense, have the double-team, throwing it back out to your perimeter players, and then defensively we've got to turn the heat up. We have not been a good defensive team. I think it's going to be interesting for us to see if we can keep the offensive efficiency and then be better defensively from an efficiency standpoint. Don't foul in the penalty...it's little things like that, Jonah, that really help you win basketball games. If you're not giving up stupid fouls in the penalty, giving up free throws 90 feet away, that kind of stuff. Maybe if you're forcing a few turnovers because you pressure the ball a little bit more, and you do that possession by possession, quarter by quarter, game by game, I think you really make yourself into a better team. That's what we're going to try to do.

JB: Personally, you go from the broadcast booth to the coaching staff, how's that been for you so far?

Petersen: ell, it's been great, because you know, Jen Gillom and Katie Elsdorphin (spelling?) and our whole coaching staff, Don Zierden and Ed Prohofsky, they're good people to work with, and then our gals have been coming into town slowly. You know, training camp, that'll be interesting, because it's two-a-day practices and I'm normally on the golf course at this time, and relaxing, so it's going to be a very hectic summer for me, but you know it's going to be a great learning experience, and I'm really excited about the opportunity. I can't thank Mr. Taylor enough and Chris Wright and everybody, Roger Griffith, for giving me the opportunity to have two great jobs within one organization, so I'm eternally grateful, and I hope it shows with my work ethic working with these gals, and hopefully we can get to be a playoff team and hopefully a world champion.

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