Julie Plank Chat Transcript

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With the hiring several weeks ago of longtime WNBA assistant Julie Plank, the Washington Mystics ushered in a new era in the nation's capital.

Combined with the naming just two weeks earlier of new general manager Angela Taylor, there is a major change within the organization designed to return the team to the perennial playoff contender it had been over the last several seasons.

Coach Plank stopped by to take your questions on her plans for the Mystics in 2009.

Nick (CT): Surely there will be some major changes in Washington, but what type of team do you see your Mystics being? What type of game will they play?

 Julie Plank: (2:10 PM ET ) I want to play an uptempo game. Some of the players we have on this team lend themselves to that style. I value the defensive end. Teams that win play good defense and rebound the basketball. But I will definitely play a fast-paced game.

Sally, Minnesota: Hey Julie! Congrats! What have you learned as an assistant in the WNBA that you will bring to the position of head coach?

 Julie Plank: (2:11 PM ET ) Thanks for writing in, Sally! I have been an asisstant for a long time and been on good staffs. I've had a lot of responsibility, and a lot of input in terms of decision-making on the court and off the court. So I'm very confident about what I want to do. I look forward to staying here a while, building something and putting my mark on D.C.

Judith (Wash. DC): Coach, congratulations and welcome to Washington! What have you identified as the biggest challenge you face with this team, and how do you plan to address it?

 Julie Plank: (2:13 PM ET ) Thanks for the question! I look forward to the challenges here. One of them is to establish consistency. That goes for the staff and the player personnel. Good teams have a core group that has played together and knows each other very well. We need to figure out who those players are and to add depth. The draft, free agency and player development are the ways I see to accomplish that.

Allison (Baltimore, MD): Hey Coach Plank! Congratulations! What are your expectations for your first year as Mystics Head Coach?

 Julie Plank: (2:16 PM ET ) I appreciate you writing in, Allison. No one is going to have greater expectations here than myself. I win to win and win right away. I'm someone who believes in surrounding myself with good people in all areas to be successful. I would love to make the playoffs next year. More than the wins and losses, though, I would like to see our team be competitive. Like I said before, build a solid nucleus and an attitude for winning. And it's important to have fun and enjoy the people you are around.

Sue Bierman (Dallas, TX): Julie, I enjoyed your chalk talks when I lived in Indiana. I am so excited for you to lead the Mystics. Who are you looking at as assistants in Washington?

 Julie Plank: (2:18 PM ET ) Thanks, Sue. I do remember you from Indiana! There has been a lot interest in the job and working in DC, which is awesome. I'm looking to hire assistants that have great work ethic and are team players that understand what it takes to win. It's important that a staff has different strengths and works well together. I have some people in mind, but I have not decided on a total staff, although I should do that in the near future. I want a staff that is knowledgable of the WNBA and a staff that will help develop players as individuals and as a team.

David (Washington, DC): Coach Plank, what do you think will be the biggest challenge you will face in jumping from an assistant coach to head coach?

 Julie Plank: (2:20 PM ET ) First, you are going to have the final say on everything. As an assistant I made suggestions, shared ideas. Now as a head coach I get to make the ultimate decisions. I will rely on assistants a lot. I like taking people's input. The final decision will be mine and I look forward to that, but I also want people around me to challenge me and make me better.

Ellen (Lusby, MD): Coach, welcome to the Mystics! What have you identified as the biggest on-court weakness needing to be fixed? Point guard? Center? Other?

 Julie Plank: (2:22 PM ET ) Thanks Ellen for writing in. I would say we need to score more points. We were last in points per game last year. We should look to score in the 80s this season. As for personnel, I don't know if we can pinpoint a position, but the point guard is important. The teams that have won have strong point guard play and a post presence. I'm excited to coach Alana Beard who is one of the best players in this league. I also think though that this team can get much better defensively, especially when you look at last year's numbers.

Mount Rainier, Maryland: What free agents? tops the Mystics list

 Julie Plank: (2:24 PM ET ) Anytime you can make your team better you look to do that. There are a lot of good free agents out there. A city like Washington can attract those free agents. It's a great city with great fan support. There's total commitment from the top with Ted Leonsis and Sheila Johnson. Without naming names I'd say we're going to go after free agents at all positions. And we have enough here to offer the top free agents.

drea, landover, md: what kindof of players will you be looking to draft and what postions need to be upgraded

 Julie Plank: (2:26 PM ET ) As far as the college draft, we are very fortunate to have a lot of selections. this year's draft is better than people think. We'll probably get 2-3 players that will contribute right away. Our lottery pick will likely contribute immediately. Getting a quality point guard will likely be the biggest need at this time. But in the draft it's not only important to look at talent, but work ethic and how players interact with teammates, how good players want to be and how coachable they are.

Dana, Washington, DC: Coach Plank: The Mystics seem to be lacking an identity as a basketball team. What are your plans to change this problem? Will you focus on defense or a high powered offense? Thanks! Dana

 Julie Plank: (2:28 PM ET ) I talk about my style to play. I'm very much uptempo and get after it on defense. I like high energy players and players that care about winning more than anything else. With all the changes this team has had it hasn't lended to consistency, which as I've said is important. But I'm a blue-collar person and I'm about laying everything out there on the floor and giving it all you've got. I can't stress enough that it's all about team, and I think that's what you'll see when you watch us play.

 Julie Plank: (2:34 PM ET ) Thanks for all of your questions! I'm looking forward to meeting our players, spending time with them and letting them get to know me this offseason and what I expect. I'm looking to hire a great staff and when our training camp starrts in May to established my identity right away. In closing, I'm very excited about the passion from the Washington fans from all the emails I've received. This is a great organization from the top down. I'm very fortunate to work with new GM Angela Taylor. We should work well together. We share the same goals and passion. It's going to be a great working team.