Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes Continues Prep for 2014 Draft
With the 2014 WNBA season approaching faster every day, Stars Head Coach and General Manager, Dan Hughes, is hard at work, prepping his squad for the upcoming campaign. With the free agency period, WNBA draft and opening tip looming, Hughes has his work cut out for him, but is excited to get going.
Part of the Hughes’ job during the WNBA offseason includes scouting college players throughout the country as he and his staff prep for the upcoming draft this April. As much enjoyment as he gets out of it, the travel makes for a busy schedule.
“Planes are great!” Hughes joked. “I have been on five of them in the last six days.”
Despite the wear and tear of constant travel, the Stars GM thinks his trips have paid real dividends lately.
“It's been a really good period. I think the college season is winding down so you get into conference play and see some really good games and players playing very well at this time. It’s just a really busy time leading up to the conference tournaments.”
Hughes understands the importance of having a lottery pick in the WNBA. It’s not something the successful Stars franchise are used to having under Hughes’ reign, with the organization only have two previous lottery picks under his tutelage. With those two picks, the Stars acquired Becky Hammon - via a trade with New York - and Sophia Young, both of whom are still an integral part to the Stars success in 2014 and beyond.
Hughes understands the immediate help a lottery pick can bring to a franchise, but he keeps in mind that there is a little more riding on a top-three pick when it comes to the future of the Stars franchise.
“There is the immediate help that a lottery pick brings, but there is the added responsibility that this is a long term player that fits the culture of the team,” said Hughes. “I think it’s a responsibility for a team that is not in the lottery very often to try and get a player that not only meets a need, but can also be a leader within that organization. Your goal is to not be in the lottery very often, but when you are there you get something that is going to have a long term effect on your team.”
Hughes’ track record with long term players in his lottery picks with the Stars is near perfect. The additions of Young and Hammon were instrumental moves for the direction of this franchise, and Hughes hopes to continue that trend in 2014.
Hughes also points out that it’s not always strictly about the type of player – talent wise – that a potential draft pick brings to an organization, but it's also about the personality they will bring into the Stars’ team culture.
“I think you have to understand who you are as a team and I think there are different ways to do things that fit our culture,” Hughes said. “What kind of teammate they are matters a lot to us. We are a chemistry-driven unit. Along with some of things that every team looks for, I think we are attracted to more of those players who are going to fit in our kind of system.”
For now, Hughes and his staff will begin the long scouting and preparation process as they approach the important offseason dates. They will be all around the country scouting as many games and players as they can, not only for the upcoming 2014 WNBA Draft, but also to see some younger players who could eventually make it to the WNBA. The process will be time-consuming, but Hughes’ staff has a strategy in place and they are ready to execute it.
“We meet weekly, starting this week basically to share information and evaluation,” he said. “Videos and television have become a huge part of this process. Yes we see games in person, but all three of us on the staff watch multiple games at home, and it’s amazing. With uses of videos and streaming, it has opened the door to a lot of great evaluation to a lot of players.”
Despite the number of hours on the road and time spent watching film, Hughes is used to the lifestyle and will continue to evaluate players before the upcoming draft.
"It’s time consuming,” Hughes said, “but it’s worth it.”