Katie Douglas Q&A
The 2006 WNBA season was bittersweet for Katie Douglas. On one hand, she averaged a career-best and team-leading 16.4 points per game for the Sun and earned MVP honors at the All-Star Game. However, she suffered a foot injury near the end the Sun's first-round playoff win over Washington that limited her in the team's Eastern Conference finals loss to eventual champ Detroit. Now healthy following surgery, Douglas chatted with WNBA.com's Mark Bodenrader about being back in action and how the Sun are shaping up in 2007.
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DOUGLAS: "Training camp is good. I got in here a little earlier than Iím accustomed to. Itís a different experience and Iím enjoying it. And now everybody is back, as far as the veterans overseas. I think everybodyís really excited. We only have a few more days before our first official game so everyoneís pretty excited about it, but at the same time weíve got a lot of work to do between now and then."
Q: How long does it take to get into the groove with players once they all start coming back together?
DOUGLAS: "Itís really tough to say. Like I said, Iím in a different position this year. I was fortunate enough to come back from overseas and get here at the beginning of May, whereas usually I get here in the middle of May. Iíve always been that one thatís trying to work in right before the season.
"Itís a little different this year as well because weíve got some new faces weíre excited about with Kristen Rasmussen, Erika Desouza and some younger players that are here in camp. Weíre trying Ė as the older players have gotten here and as I was here at the beginning of camp Ė to be good examples, trying to be good leaders and to show everybody the system. Hopefully we can get things going with these last preseason games. Weíre looking to gather some steam playing with one another and get accustomed to that. Hopefully weíll be ready to go on Saturday."
Q: How was your experience playing over in Lithuania during the off-season?
DOUGLAS: "Oh it was good. It was my third year with that same team, so it was pretty consistent. We made it to the final eight. It was definitely a successful season. I was coming off surgery, so being able to get back onto the court felt great."
Q: You mentioned before that you came back a bit earlier this year instead of just jumping into things right before the WNBA season like some players do. Do you prefer it that way?
DOUGLAS: "Yeah, in my six-year career, itís not that Iíve never wanted to come on time, but because of obligations overseas Iíve always had to come in towards the end of training camp. This year we were fortunate enough to finish off early this year in Lithuania and I was able to get back here and be the lone veteran. They liked to refer to me as the senior camp counselor. It was a good experience. I had fun with it, being the second-oldest player there, teaching the young players and just getting to know them. When Kesh (teammate Nykesha Sales) and those other girls get in here, theyíre kind of just thrown into the fire and donít get to experience a lot of things. And once the season gets going, it gets going. So it was fun for me this year."
Q: You had a bit of a breakout year in 2006. What do you attribute to your improvement to and how do you plan to build on that in 2007?
DOUGLAS: "I guess I just attribute it to opportunity and my teammates just being in the right position. A lot of people are talking about that but at the same time without my teammates out there having my back and helping me out, a lot of that personal success and accolades wouldnít have been possible. Last year we had five All-Stars so youíre going to look good when you have that many weapons out on the court every night. As far as this year, I just want to be consistent, be a leader for this team, and go in and do the same things I was doing last year and kind of build on that success. Just be a steady veteran for this team."
a sense of urgency about us."
Q: After back-to-back defeats in the WNBA finals, you guys fell in the Eastern Conference finals to eventual champ Detroit last year. Do you see that as regression or does it mean the team is just poised for a run to the title?
DOUGLAS: "You can see it as regression. You can see it as being hungrier. Obviously, I broke my foot at a very unfortunate time at the end of the first round of the playoffs. Thatís not to use it as an excuse and a crutch, but the past couple years we just havenít had luck as far as a key player going down. The previous year Lindsey Whalen cracked her knee and her ankle.
"I think that definitely within the players that have been around, with myself and Nykesha being with this team since its inception, and Asjha (Jones), Margo (Dydek) and Lindsey now being here several years, I think we definitely have a sense of urgency about us. I think we understand the business side, that people are expendable at any time. We have a special group; we love working with one another. Hopefully we can make that sense of urgency contagious and infectious amongst the younger and newer players on this team and get a WNBA championship this year."
Q: How is the foot holding up? Are you pretty much 100 percent coming off that surgery and are you tentative when you go the basket now because of the experience with the injury?
DOUGLAS: "No. I was at first. As soon as I got a clearance to play, I was playing. At first, it was a little scary and a little nerve-wracking, but itís been about five months where Iím able to feel like Iím 100 percent. Iím not tentative at all. Iím trying to be the same player I was before I broke my foot."
Q: Only you and Nykesha have been with the Connecticut Sun since the team's beginning, coming over from the Orlando Miracle. Does that make you guys the default leaders of this team?
DOUGLAS: "Yeah, but I donít think by default. We want to be the leaders of this team. Kesh and I have been with this franchise ever since she got draft, ever since I got drafted. Weíve been together and weíd like to win together. Weíve seen the highs and weíve seen the lows. But there are other players that have been here for three, four years Ė Ashja, Lindsay and Margo Ė that know the system, know us and that will provide leadership as well. It doesnít just rest on our shoulders; Coach T (head coach Mike Thibault) expects everyone to pull their weight even more this year. So with Kesh and I leading the way and everyone else doing their part, I think weíre going to be in a good position."