2009 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call
Atlanta Dream Head Coach and General Manager Marynell Meadors
Washington Mystics Head Coach Julie Plank
Sacramento Monarchs General Manager John Whisenant
Detroit Shock Head Coach and General Manager Bill Laimbeer
Q: What is everyone’s opinion of Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner and Whitney Boddie?
MM: “Watching those two play all year long, they’re really fantastic players. DeWanna Bonner is going to be a tremendous pro because she runs the floor, she’s 6’4”, her wingspan is extremely wide and she can shoot the ball. When I look at Whitney Boddie, I think she does a great job of pushing the action. I think she’s going to be a player that is going to somebody’s camp and she’s going to make a push for herself.”
JW: “They were coached in a style that would fit what we try to do in Sacramento. Bonner can score with anybody that’s in the Draft. Even though she’s thin, she does a good job rebounding.”
JP: “DeWanna Bonner is going to have a really good impact on our league. She shows a lot of versatility and I think she can play a lot of positions at the offensive and defensive end. I agree with Marynell about Whitney Boddie. I think she’s going to challenge some people in training camp. She’s extremely competitive and can really pass the ball and get people some shots”
Q: Is Bonner’s thin frame a concern?
JP: I think she’s played in one of the most physical leagues. She does have the ability to play inside and out. I don’t think you have to keep her inside all the time, she runs the floor very well. I think she can handle the ball and I can see her facing up and playing on the perimeter a lot. I do think she has to gain some weight – she’s done that at Auburn – but she’s durable, she hasn’t missed any games and has continued to carry Auburn almost single-handedly.”
Q: How much has Angel McCoughtry helped herself this season? Has she been in this position as one of the top picks all along? Was she in the top few spots before the NCAA Tournament began?
BL: “We’ve got no shot at her. She’s where she needs to be. She’s a great player and some teams are going to have hard choices.”
MM: “She’s been in that spot pretty much all year long. She’s a very consistent player and teams are throwing multiple players at her, but she ends up with 20 points per game and eight or nine rebounds. The good thing about Angel is she plays both ends of the court. I think she has the ability to take over games, but at the beginning of games, she looks to get her teammates involved. I know she’s looked a lot for Candyce Bingham this year. The two of them have really carried that team, especially McCoughtry. She’s a special player. She takes a lot of shots and doesn’t have many of them blocked.”
Q: Who are the top two or three players you’re looking at? What needs are you looking to fill?
MM: “Being an expansion team, we’ve made some major changes in our roster since last season with the addition of Michelle Snow, Chamique Holdsclaw, Nikki Teasley and Sancho Lyttle. We’ve gotten pretty good in a short period of time. I think we need some young back-up players. I look at maybe the top seven or eight and we consider Montgomery, because I could use a point guard since Nikki Teasley has had some injuries. I think she’s had a tremendous career and senior year. Marissa Coleman is a scorer; Kristi Toliver is a scorer. Courtney Paris if you want a back-to-the-basket player, there’s not too many that are better than her. DeWanna Bonner, Kia Vaughn, Shavonte Zellous and Ashley Walker are all up there too.”
JP: We’re looking at four or five players, but we’re obviously looking at what Atlanta does. We’ve made some changes in the offseason. When I took the job, I thought our biggest needs were point guard and center and I think we addressed those in the offseason…Going into the draft, we want to put our team in a position to take the best player for our team and not a specific position and I think we did that. The players we’re looking at are players who add depth to our team and versatility and are going to contribute for us, right away.
Q: Coach Laimbeer, you’ve got a later pick in this draft. What would you be looking for to add to your mix?
BL: “We’ve picked at 11 two or three times already and it’s hit or miss. Especially with 11 roster spots, the league is so difficult to make. I’ve picked 11 or 12 in the past few years and we’ve gotten Tasha Humphrey and Ivory Latta, neither of whom is with us. So, 11, 12 and 13 picks are tough. You have to have the right mix of players and draft board leverage to move to someone else. We’re looking for a guard or a small forward. We’ve got a lot of good bigs. I have three very good backcourt players and I’d like to add to this depth, whether it’s by this draft of signing and trading someone.”
Q: What are your thoughts on Toliver of Maryland and her impact on the league?
BL: “I’m not going to be able to draft her, but I think she’s a scrappy player. She looks to score a lot, which is okay, depending on the system. I think she’ll be a quality player in this league because her competitiveness will carry her a long way. What kind of an impact depends on who she plays for and how her teammates interact with her.”
MM: “I think Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver both bring different aspects to the game. Marissa is a three player that can score and rebound and do anything she wants to do. Toliver is a scoring point guard so if you can live with that she’s going to be a good pick for a team. A lot of people question their ability to defend and in this league you have to be able to defend because everyone uses multiple defenses. Offensively, I think they recognize those defenses but the challenge for those two players is, “Can you play defense in the league?”
Q: Is Toliver the best pure scorer available in the draft?
JW: “There are three or four good scorers coming out. I don’t know that I think she’s the best, but she’s good. She can make shots and she handles the basketball well, but her teammate is a very good scorer as well. Bonner from Auburn is a very good scorer. Angel from Louisville is good. I don’t really want a point guard that is trying to score. I want that to be their fifth option. I want them to be offensively aggressive but to have a point guard where that’s their main focus is good in certain systems.”
MM: “I think Kristi has proven she is one of the best shooters in this draft. She set the record for three-point field goals in the ACC. Watching her play, she hits big shots. I like a point guard that can score at times and I think she has a great basketball IQ. As far as shooting the ball, I think she can flat-out shoot. I don’t know if she’s the best shooter in the draft, but she makes big shots.”
JW: “I agree that she makes big shots. You have to love her courage. She’s wants to take the big shots and those are the kind of players you need at the end of the game.”
Q: What do you think of Rutgers’ Kia Vaughn’s potential in the league?
MM: “Her best basketball is in front of her. She’s only going to get better and better. She’s got great footwork. I think she’s very aggressive and she’s going to be a good pro.”
BL: “I think her draft stock has moved up from where she started the season. Will she be there at 11? I don’t know the answer to that one.”
JP: “I think Kia will make a tremendous impact in our league. She’s a tremendous athlete who impacts the game at the defensive end in particular. As the season went on, she got more involved in the offense and got more touches. She proved that she’s going to play at a high level in this league. I think her stock went up as the NCAA Tournament went on.”
Q: For John Whisenant…how will this draft impact the Monarchs? You’ve traded away your backup point guard this off-season; will you be drafting for need or does this open a spot for Charel Allen to fill the backup point guard role.
JW: “Going to the 11-player roster, in my view, what we have to be prepared to do is have multiple-skilled players to play different positions because there will be injuries. With 11 players and us not having a D League like the NBA and no (other) active women’s league going on, I’m trying to put together a roster of players who can move from position to position. “With that said, Kara Lawson has always wanted to play point guard; she’s also wanted to coach and do a number of things…but because she’s so smart and analytical, she’d enjoy playing guard. So if Ticha needs some time off or is injured we feel like we could use Kara there. The other guards we keep on the roster must be able to make intelligent decisions to play that point guard position. Charel Allen could be one, Chelsea Newton could be one. We’re bringing back the leading scorer in the Olympics from China. We’ll use training camp to decide that.”
Q: Is that where this league is going to in terms of needing more versatile players because of rosters being at 11 players?
BL: “I never looked at the roster number. I always believed in multiple-position players, that’s why we always draft big guards and draft versatile players across the board. I would look at our league right now as the NBA was in the early ‘80s with the depth and versatility of the players. And as the men’s league has evolved so will our league evolve...players must play multiple positions and with the athletes coming into our league today, they can do that.
Q: Where does Purdue’s Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton fit on your radar and does her versatility help her?
MM: “It does help her. She’s a big body inside; she can rebound with the best of them and I think she’s worked herself into a good situation. I’m not sure who’s going to draft her but I’m sure she’s high on a lot of lists.”
JP: “I think she’ll probably play a four at this level. She has the ability to go down low and she can face up as well and play away from the basket. She’s extremely competitive and she can score both high and low. I’m not sure at the position we’re in right now that we will be able to draft her but I think she’s a very good player.”
Q: Shavonte Zellous…her status and ability to make an impact?
MM: “She’s had a great career. I look for her to go at eight or nine. I’m not sure where she’ll go but she has a really good chance of making this league.”
Q: Coach Meadors, what are your biggest needs with the Dream?
MM: “Looking at our roster, we’ve changed it around quite a bit from last season. We’re going to need a one a three and a five. I’m not sure which order we’re going to go in. I’d like to have a backup five. We’re mainly focusing on the guard situation first though.”
Q: There may not be a clear cut number one pick but what have the top players in the NCAA tournament shown you?
MM: “They’ve shown me they can step up and play under pressure situations. I’d have to point to Renee Montgomery, Marissa Coleman, Angel McCoughtry and last night after watching Oklahoma play, Courtney Paris really stepped up. And Kristi Toliver is a great little player who will have a good career in our league. But those four I named first are atop my list.”