Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Draft Room Chat beat writer Ryan Pretzer blogged live from the Shock draft room on Wednesday where general manager Bill Laimbeer, director of player personnel Cheryl Reeve and assistant coach Rick Mahorn selected five players in the 2008 WNBA Draft. The Shock had the 4th, 11th, 18th and 42nd selections.

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Ryan Pretzer: OK, sorry for the late start. All set up now. It's a full room -- Bill is here, of course, Craig Turnbull, the COO of the Shock, trainer Laura Ramus and Cheryl Reeve, who is entering her first draft as director of player personnel. Mahorn stepped out but I'm sure he'll be back.

Ryan Pretzer: Most of you are probably familiar with the fact the Pistons announced their All-Time Team last night, which Bill and Rick were a part of. One of the TVs in the room is showing old Pistons highlights on NBATV, including Bill wearing a black top hat and holding the championship trophy. "That's Mark Aguirre's hat," Bill says.


Ryan Pretzer: Bill has said for a while he's happy at No. 4 because there's a couple of guards he likes, and one of them has to be available there. He doesn't seem worried about giving up something extra to get one guard in particular.

Ryan Pretzer: It's showtime; ESPN2 has started its draft show. The room likes Sylvia Fowles' hat.

Ryan Pretzer: The news of the first professional basketball game outdoors -- which the Liberty and Fever will play this season -- has Bill asking, "What if it rains?" ... good question ...

Ryan Pretzer: I've been here for at least 12 minutes, and haven't heard any discussion of the fourth pick. Seems like everyone here is on the same page ... if only I knew what page that was!

Ryan Pretzer: Candice Parker, No. 1 ... not exactly a surprise there.

Ryan Pretzer: the discussion now is which phone the group will use to call in the pick to make sure they get through to the league in time... someone could make a nice endorsement out of becoming the official phone company of the WNBA Draft ... the draft doesnt work without them.

Ryan Pretzer: Fowles No. 2 ... the Sky just became a much tougher opponent for the Shock. Now Minnesota is on the clock, and things should get interesting from here.

Victor, Mexico: hello from Veracruz, Mexico. Is the Shock looking for a pure point guard in the late rounds? if yes, what players do u think they can select?

Ryan Pretzer: Bill has said previously he's looking for a backup center (to replace Katie Feenstra) in all likelihood in the later rounds. the draft has good depth there. He hopes to find that guard earlier ... like any minute now ...

Ryan Pretzer: Did anyone catch Doris Burke's slip-up a moment ago ... if you did...

Ryan Pretzer: NOW, Alexis Hornbuckle is off the board... an NCAA champion one day, a member of the Detroit Shock the next. Alexis is having a good week. "She's smart" Bill just said, adding to what the analysts have been talking about.

Ryan Pretzer: Alexis is 5-11, which gives the Shock the kind of size Bill likes in his backcourt. It's one reason why Ivory Latta, as explosive a scorer as you'll find, likely would have struggled to get substantial minutes in Detroit.

Steve (Chesterfield): What does Alexis Hornbuckle bring to the table? Strengths and weaknesses

Ryan Pretzer: Of course I'm hearing all the positives right now. Again, the size makes her a good fit, and she's coming from a championship program. That's a huge benefit playing for a demanding coach like Bill and for a team that has high expectations. At Tennesseee, you deal with both and Alexis did it for four years.

Ryan Pretzer: The intrigue starts now. There area lot of questions about the picks in front of the No. 11, so a lot of things have to play out. The chatter in the room has really picked up.

Ryan Pretzer: Langhorne going to Washington is a win for the Mystics, getting a player that has ties to the area after playing at Maryland. The DC fans should love it.

Ryan Pretzer: Following New York's pick of Essence Carson, Bill said, "Now comes the weirdness." Things are very fluid right now.

Steve (Chesterfield): Are there any names being thrown around for the Shock's 11th pick? If so, can you give us an idea of who they would be looking at?

Ryan Pretzer: Hold on ... Tamara Young just stunned the room. Definitely the biggest surprise so far, just because Humphrey seemed liked such a good fit with Atlanta, like Langhorne in DC.

Ryan Pretzer: As for that No. 11 pick, the group floated the idea of trading the pick, but it looks like now they're focusing on drafting a player to keep.

Ryan Pretzer: "I cant believe how many people are falling," Bill says as the league tells him he's on the clock. There's four people in the discussion. "We're taking the best player available..." Bill concludes... Cheryl and Bill are on the phone with the pick.

Ryan Pretzer: "There's going to be great players stuck up in 20!" Bill exclaims. The room is getting pretty animated -- because they still have another pick at 18.

Ryan Pretzer: Tasha Humphrey -- the group likes her 3-point shooting and passing abilities for a post player, Rick added that she can play a little at the 5, too, which helps address that backup center spot.

Mark(Warren): What was Doris Burke's slip up?

Ryan Pretzer: Doris said Alexis was off the board before the commissioner announced the pick. Once the pick is sent in, the TV crew sees it as the commissioner is coming to the podium. Nothing bad ... she just got ahead of herself.

Ryan Pretzer: Heading out to talk to Hornbuckle.. be back in a few.

Ryan Pretzer: Well, Alexis was very well spoken on the conference call. Good first impression. I'll have more details in my draft wrap-up later today on

Ryan Pretzer: Cheryl is very excited about the pick at No. 18. She got her girl.

Ryan Pretzer: Craig says Olayinka is "a dead-ringer" for former Shock player Barb Farris. "That's good," he said. "We need that."

Steve (Chesterfield): I see that the Shock still have many more picks left in the draft. Realistically, how many of the players they draft will make the team?

Ryan Pretzer: Bill told me the media before the draft that the top three draft picks would make the team. Based on the excitement about who they got with those picks, it looks like they'll each have a spot. And the way the draft is going, they might find someone they like to make the team with their fourth pick, too.

Ryan Pretzer: Some of you wrote in asking about the No. 18 pick -- sorry i missed you, I was still out at the Hornbuckle interview. Keep the questions coming!

bob/flint: will sanni make the team realistically

Ryan Pretzer: All I can say is Cheryl Reeve is very, very excited about that pick. Now a lot can happen between now and the end of training camp, but the room's reaction does not make me think Sanni was a project or a reach. They think she's the real thing.

Ryan Pretzer: Detroit on the clock, and there's a lot of discussion. Bill got the guard he wanted but after drafting two post players on a team with a lot of high caliber post players, he might take a flyer on another guard.

Michelle (durand): are any trades expected?

Ryan Pretzer: Expected, no. But all it takes is a suggestion and a phone call, so that could change.

Ryan Pretzer: Natasha Lacy at 28 ... Cheryl's take: "Alexis and Lacy play similar."

Ryan Pretzer: If I don't get to your question in the chat, send it to and I'll respond in a shock exchange posting later on.

Sarah (WV): From watching Yinka all year, I believe she will make the team. I was hoping the Shock would pick her up. I really like this pick, along with Hornbuckle. Good job Bill.

Ryan Pretzer: and good job by Cheryl scouting her out. Today I got to see how Bill and Cheryl work together as general manager and director of player personnel. It's as strong a front office as there is.

Ryan Dodd - Flint: how many guards does bill plan on making the team this year

Ryan Pretzer: Good question. Katie Smith, Deanna Nolan, obviously, and the two rookies, Alexis and Natasha, seem like a good place to start. After that?

Some other guards who will be part of the mix are Elaine Powell and her championship experience and camp invitees like Chrissy Givens and Nina Norman. Last year there were no battles for roster spots in training camp. It's a totally different story this year.

NAIA Guy: I hear that Debbie Remmerde from Northwestern Iowa is on the radar screen. All-Time NAIA DII Leading Scorer. Any insight?

Ryan Pretzer: Another good question. You always wonder about players coming from outside Division I, where they will fall and how much teams hold the level of competition against them. But with one last pick way down at No. 42, I havent heard anything specific yet.

Marcus (Atlanta): I'm glad that Detroit was able to get Tasha Humphrey at 11. I was surprised that she didn't get picked by Atlanta at 8! How will she be able to fit into the mix with Cheryl, Tweety, and Katie?

Ryan Pretzer: First things first. I think Tasha will have to work on securing that roster spot amongst a frontcourt corps that includes Ford, Pierson and Braxton . That 3-point shooting and passing that I mentioned earlier -- and were mentioned by the coaches -- will have to make her stand out in camp.

Dodd (Swartz Creek): i think the only for sure things are the top thre picks..every better else is a ?. what do u think?

Ryan Pretzer: I think training camp will be very interesting. You can't rule out the possibility of the Shock having to cut a player who will catch on, and contribute, to another WNBA team.

Ryan Pretzer: "I can't believe I'm talking about third-round picks," Bill said. He was really high on this draft pool a year ago and I think it's even surpassed his expectations, as far as its depth.

Ryan Pretzer: After picking a couple of forwards who can fill-in at center, the Shock grabbed a true center with their last pick, 6-foot-4 Valeriya Berezhynska from Rice. Not quite 6-foot-8 like Feenstra, but close enough. That fulfills the Shock's draft wish list.

Ryan Pretzer: That's all, folks. Thanks to everyone who sent questions. If I didn't answer your question or you think of one later, send it to I'll be answering questions from there all season long. Final observation from Bill: "I like our training camp roster." Should be exciting to see how things play out from here.