Katie Smith joined Deanna Nolan in the Detroit Shock's back court on July 30 when she was acquired from the Minnesota Lynx. In 13 games for Detroit, Smith averaged 9.5 points and 2.0 assists per game. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist finished fourth in the WNBA in Three-Point Field Goals Made with 53 and seventh in Minutes Played (1160.0).
Katie Smith answered Shock fans' questions over the weekend of January 27-29 when she was in town to participate in the Pistons Bowling For Kids fundraiser at Thunderbird Lanes in Troy, MI.
Hey Katie. We Shock fans are so thrilled to have you with us. Have you experienced the extreme Ohio State vs. Michigan sentiment here yet? Also, it must be easier for you to be that much closer to Ohio State than you were in Minnesota, yes?
Thanks! I am happy to be with Detroit, and ready for a full year with everybody healthy! I haven't experienced too much in the way of Ohio State/ Michigan vibes yet. Every once in a while I tell someone from Ohio that I play in Detroit and they say sorry :( but that's about it. I am excited to be closer to home and expect lots of friends and family to make the trip to Detroit this year.
Katie, in your opinion, what is the difference between a “shooter” and a “scorer,” as those words are commonly used to describe your game?
And what are the key components to a quick shot release by a perimeter player? What can someone do to work on achieving a quicker release?
Katie Smith: My thoughts are that a shooter is more one dimensional. A scorer can shoot, drive, post, get to the free throw line - they're much more versatile in the way they can score as opposed to just being a jump shooter.
For a quick release the most important thing in my mind would be to be ready to shoot when you catch the ball - stepping into your shot and having your hands ready so that when the ball comes to you, you're already into your shot. It's one fluid motion.
Practice, practice, practice is what it takes to get better. You just become more and more comfortable with your form and the ball.
I want to know if you honestly think a backcourt of you and Deanna Nolan can work long-term, when clearly neither of you is a point guard... and would you be happy playing fewer minutes (and/or coming off the bench) if Laimbeer can find a point to fill that hole.
I think a backcourt with the two of us will be great. The challenge is getting the right system for all the talents on our team. I would prefer not to come off the bench. I feel I still have a lot to contribute to this team in a variety of ways, and hopefully my minutes will reflect that.
I would like to know how you feel about being cored. Are you glad, or would you have liked to have been able to shop around for offers?
I was happy to be cored. You always want to feel that your team wants you! I want to be close to home and have the ability to win, and I have that opportunity here in Detroit.
I'm 10 yrs. old. I want to play in WNBA when I grow up. What would you advise me to do?
First good luck with everything you do in life! I think the key is to master the fundamentals. When I say "master" it doesn't mean that you reach a point one day where you can forget about them. You will always have to keep your edge by working them. I think another big key to being successful on the court is being versatile. Being able to handle the ball, post up, shoot coming off picks, play defense etc. The more well-rounded your game is, the more opportunities that will open up for you.
How is your body holding up? The last couple of years you have gotten hurt. Have these injuries slowed you down? Keep it up!! Rock ON!!!
2004 was really the only season that I got injured, but there were some after effects last year. Now, my body feels great. Having an off-season to get strong was definitely needed. Whenever you have an injury, and especially one that requires surgery, there is always a time period between when you are "healthy" and when you are "basketball healthy." Last winter because of my knee I only played five days of basketball during the offseason! That wasn't enough to be where I wanted to be. Even though I wasn't on my A game, though, I still put in the work during the year to prepare me for the coming season.
What was the hardest thing you struggled with your rookie year in the WNBA?
Rookie year . . . 1999 . . . You're making me feel old Marrisa. :) Let's see. I was just coming of an ACL injury, but the biggest thing was probably the schedule - how fast and compact the season was.
How difficult was it to leave Minnesota last season, and what was it like joining a new team for the first time in your WNBA career – especially a team that had an established set of stars where your role was lessened somewhat as an offensive threat?
It was really difficult leaving Minnesota. It was a shock (no pun intended) and I did not see it coming. Joining a new team was like a whirlwind! But the staff and players really made it easy. They helped me with anything they could, and after learning most of the plays it was smooth. I knew a lot of the players on the team from overseas and USA basketball. In basketball the teams are always changing so we get used to change. I don't think I
am any less of an offensive threat, but we have a number of offensive threats on the floor at any given time in Detroit which should make us collectively even harder to guard. So even though I might not get the same number of shots that I did in Minnesota, if we're playing to our abilities, we should all be more efficient when we do get the opportunity to score. I had many an opportunity to knock down shots last season, and can't wait to get out there and put the ball in the hole this year!
Tami from Grand Rapids
Hey Katie. I went to the Pistons game on Friday when you were signing autographs, and my mom and sisters convinced me that I should go get your autograph. So, I did, and you had asked me about my season without me even saying that I played basketball. So that was really Cool!! But anyways, I was wondering if you had any advice for players who are freshmen and pretty much sit the bench?
When your sitting the bench watch the game carefully and watch the good players. Ask yourself, what are they doing that you can do if you work at it? Find things that can make your game better and things you can work on. And don't give up. Plenty of bench players get called on to make key contributions throughout the course of a season. Spend the extra time before or after practice working on your weaknesses. Good luck with your career!
Thanks for all the questions everybody, and thanks to all the Shock fans out there who have embraced me during the seven months or so that I've been a member of the team. I'm looking forward to a happy and healthy 2006, and trying to bring another championship to The Palace of Auburn Hills.
We'll see you this summer!