2011 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: Coaches/GMs

Opening Statements

Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve: This is just a tremendous time of year leading into the 2011 WNBA Draft. It’s been an outstanding NCAA tournament and seeing the parity. In regards to the Draft, it’s been a really interesting opportunity to watch the players that are going to be in the Draft compete on a level that we’re excited about from a WNBA standpoint. It’s a Draft that’s deep, maybe not in terms of franchise players, but players that will help WNBA teams this year and it’s got a lot of good front court players.

Tulsa Shock General Manager and Coach Nolan Richardson:I echo the same statement. This is my second go around with the Draft. I’ve watched a lot of games, and it seems like there’s a lot of bigs in the game compared to what I saw last year. Being new to the league, and new to women’s basketball, being able to watch some of these young ladies participate in the tournament has been amazing, showing some super basketball talent. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m sure all the WNBA teams are looking forward to this year’s Draft.

New York Liberty General Manager and Coach John Whisenant (Joined later)

Question and Answer Session

Q: Are you going to take Maya Moore with the first pick?

CR: We’re on a league call, and if I we’re to confirm that I’d be in big trouble. I would tell you that the assumptions that are being made are not off-base, and this franchise is excited about the prospect of a very talented player out of the University of Connecticut.

Q: Looking back at the trade last year, and the prospects of Tina Charles and Maya potentially playing together, would you have done anything different?

CR: I’m a former point guard and believe that guards win in this game. Certainly bigs help, but someone like Lindsay Whalen is like having a good quarterback on an NFL team. Look at the teams that have good quarterbacks and those that don’t, so I’m a big believer of having leadership at that position. If I had to do it all over again, one hundred percent absolutely I would do it. I have a lot of respect for Tina Charles, but it’s interesting that both teams had the same result, which we were non-playoff teams. With regards to thinking of them playing together, that’s for you guys to do. Hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to stuff like that. Coming into this Draft, we wanted the number one pick and be able to select the player who is one of the most decorated players in college women’s basketball history. We’re pleased with how things turned out and this coming season will show us a lot.

Q: So you will not be trading the Draft pick?

CR: The number one Draft pick will not be traded this year.

More: Pre-Draft Call

  • Analysts
  • Players

  • Q: What is your response to Liz Cambage that she doesn’t want to go to Tulsa?

    NR: Our situation is very unique. If that’s the person we will choose to pick, then that’s the person we will choose. Whether or not she decides to play, that would still be her option of what she wants to do. Our position is we’re still going to do what we still need to do regardless of what a player says about where she wants to play.

    Q: How do you look at the Draft at the point guard position, and in particular, where Courtney Vandersloot fits in?

    NR: It’s not hard for anyone to see she’s one of the great guards in college basketball. We haven’t decided in what direction we’re going to go with our seventh pick, and there’s no question there’s certainly quite a few out there and she’s one of them.

    Q: Can you assess James Madison’s Dawn Evans’ strengths and weakness, and how she projects as a professional player? How high or low will she go in the Draft?

    CR: Dawn Evans is a player that’s shown a great ability to score the basketball, a high volume shooter, which is what’s asked of her for that team and she’s taken on that role well. From a size standpoint, there’s probably some concern there, but as a player she’s very talented and will probably get drafted. In general terms, she’ll probably get drafted in the second round.

    Q: With her kidney disease, do you see that being a deterrent in taking her?

    CR: No, if you’re interested in Evans, you’ll do your homework and you’ll learn about what her physical condition is and what the concerns are. Anybody that would take her would not be concerned about that because they would’ve done their homework.

    Q: Can you give an assessment on Boston College’s Stefanie Murphy? With her team being eliminated from the NIT versus NCAA tournament, does that have any effect on her draft position?

    CR: She’s maybe a late-second, third rounder. She’s a tough minded player, physically tough, and I wouldn’t say I know the details of her game to really give a strong description, but she’s probably a player that would be drafted in the third round. I think she is what she is; I don’t think her team being in the NIT versus the NCAA hurts her draft position.

    Q: Regarding Liz Cambage, have you talked directly to her or her agent, and do you attribute any of her public comments to youth?

    NR: We have had conversations with her agent. She just recently acquired an agent in the United States. As I mentioned before, we are concerned about her concerns. Again, we have to move on and not let any player dictate any position from a standpoint of where they should play or where they won’t play.

    Q: Has it become harder to become an impact player when you’re a young player? Also, how much harder is it for guards to get jobs in this league when you consider the extended careers of some of the better guards in the league?

    CR: To come in here and be the franchise player, it’s just hard to do. In regard to the guards, there’s no question it’s a little bit more difficult for that position. Every year, the front line, we’re all looking to improve, so it seems to be more open for the opportunity on the post side. There have been a lot of great players that have been around a long time, and it’s hard to displace them. I’m confident that these players will find a way onto a roster and maybe in time they’ll emerge as more dominant players.

    Q: Both Minnesota and Tulsa have two selections in the first round. Do you see them being top of the rotation players or other?

    CR: There’s an obvious with our pick, they’ll certainly be a part of the rotation. In regards to the number four pick, that remains to be seen. From a front line stand point, there remains an opportunity. Time will tell.

    NR: Our first pick will be someone we need, and that’s a big. Probably our seventh pick will in the category of probably the best available athlete and at the same time, we would probably be looking at the point guard position as well. It’s all about if you can play and can you help the franchise. It’s right now the most important thing on the table for us, and to improve our talent pool, the way we want to play, and players that will fit the system best.

    Q: Do you anticipate Angie Bjorklund from Tennessee being drafted, and if so, where?

    CR: There’s no question Bjorklund will be drafted. When you have a player to put the ball in the hole at the rate that she can from the three point line, there’s certainly value there. The specialist nature of her game will probably put her in the latter-mid part of the second round.

    NR: She’s a shooting guard that will be in the Draft. I’d actually put her in the end of the first round.

    JW: I think she’s in the mid-second round because of her great shooting.

    Q: What are the concerns about the conditioning of Danielle Adams from Texas A&M and is that something that she can improve upon at the pro level?

    NR: She can always improve upon the size she is at the pro level. Danielle is a very big person, but has lost quite a bit since last year. She’s got a chance to be a very good pro basketball player.

    JW: She’s got great hands, shoots the ball correctly, and has good instincts. The questions about her size and conditions are valid, and she’s got to be able to get up and down the floor, though she’s so skilled and judging from the change in her physical conditioning from last year as a junior to senior season. We’ll get her in the first round somewhere I believe. Anyone who can score 23 points per game in that league, you got to look at.

    Q: What are your thoughts on what makes Maya Moore special, and how does that translate to the WNBA?

    CR: It’s been a lot of fun to bring up discussions of where Maya fits in the history of college basketball. There have been some great players to come through, and I think Maya is one of them. I respect the history of the game. Cheryl Miller was awfully good, and I’m sure Carol Blazejowski would like her name mentioned in that category. To put her at the very top, it’d be more about not respecting our history. It’s a great debate, one of the most decorated women’s college basketball players ever. The aspect that everyone always talks about that translates to success on our level is Maya’s work ethic. When your best player is your hardest working player, great things happen to you.

    Q: Do you think Xavier’s Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips will be first round Draft picks, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

    CR: There’s no question that both Amber and Ta’Shia are first round picks in this draft. They are two of the players that most of us will get excited about to bolster our front line. They’re both different. With Amber, we see a very skilled player with great instincts for the game. Her natural position remains to be seen. She has the size of a center, but has the game to play some four. As far as Ta’Shia, she’s by far my favorite rebounder in the Draft. If you need rebounds and someone to be solid defensively, Ta’Shia will certainly help in that regard. Anybody that gets either one of these players will be pleased.

    Q: After you got the number pick, anyone make an attempt to try to trade the pick with you? Same question for Tulsa.

    CR: We’ve made it pretty clear that we won’t be trading the pick.

    NR: We have made our minds up of where we’re going to go with our number two pick.

    Q: Can you talk about the Draft class for the Big Ten?

    CR: Jantel Lavender has really separated herself, and been one of the most dominant players in the Big Ten over the past four years. She’s a player that has very natural gifts for the game, great court vision, and a very high basketball IQ. There’ll be some question marks about what her natural position will be in the WNBA, and again the word conditioning would come up again. Kachine Alexander, she might have a shot depending on the situation.

    Q: When you watch Maya Moore, what comes to mind, and how much will her marketability help the Minnesota franchise?

    CR: I see a player who is extremely passionate about the game, and her overall skill level. Her ability to shoot the basketball is what people look at, but developing a mid-range game is going to be important for her. She runs and rebounds the ball well, and a player that commits to every part of the game that does a bit of everything and determined to be the best. There’s been a lot of excitement around here. In regards to the business side of things, and in this day and age of meeting sponsorships, it comes at a really good time for us.

    Q: Jeanette Pohlen’s college profile has really elevated quite a bit this year, and being named Pac-10 Player of the Year and First-team All-America, does that change the evaluation of her as a WNBA player? Do you see Kayla Pederson in the pros as a true power forward?

    JW: Pohlen was the California Player of the Year out of high school, so she was well known and comes from an athletic family. She has continued to improve, shoots the ball well, big and strong, thinks well and from my point of view I hope she’s still there at number 10 when I get to pick. Pederson, she’s a gifted basketball player, though she will have some difficulty guarding the quick threes in the WNBA.

    CR: We watch these players throughout their careers, not just their senior years. Pohlen has been on our radar the last couple years. When you watch guards, Pohlen stands out. The other thing with Pohlen is that she plays more than one position, she could be a combo guard, there’s tremendous value there. With regard to Pederson, there’s no question she’s a natural four. I think that would be her best position in this league, and she would be a match up problem for many fours with her ability to stretch the defense. I would like to see a higher three-point field goal percentage from her in the pros. She looks like she’s able to do it. She has a bright future here in the WNBA.

    NR: One of the real keys in evaluating players is the ability to win. With Pohlen, she’s not going to be number 10, I think she’ll be in front of that. Pederson, I enjoy the way she plays the game and sees the game. She can fit in anywhere because she understands the game, and I see both of these young ladies pretty high in the Draft.

    Q: If Pohlen is not there at number ten, can you assess your interest in Courtney Vandersloot?

    JW: She’s tremendously skilled, and might have an adjustment physically in the WNBA, but she’ll play. I’ll be happy if either one drops to10.