After a 1-10 start to the 2001 WNBA season, Charlotte Sting Head Coach Anne
Donovan and her staff orchestrated the greatest turnaround in professional
sports history ending the year winning 17 of their last 21 games and earning
the number four seed in the WNBA Playoffs.
The Sting trumped their own
regular season success story by pulling off the two biggest upsets in WNBA
Playoffs history beating number one seed Cleveland and number two seed New
York on their way to the Eastern Conference Championship.
Now, Donovan and company are retooling for another run at the title. Donovan chatted live on Tuesday, April 16. Here's what she had to say:
Kim, Sacramento: Who are some of the "lesser known" players that made an impression on you in the pre-draft camp?
Anne Donovan: I'm not sure what qualifies as lesser known. There's a lot of talk about the first five players then a lot that will make an impact. Danielle Crockrom from Baylor is probably not well known around the country. Also, Shaun Gortman from South Carolina. "Tanty" Maiga had a great camp and Lindsey Meder from Iowa all stood out in Chicago.
Travellingtrio: On Friday, will you be looking to select the best player available at the 9th position or are do you have a specific spot you are looking to fill?
Anne Donovan: I would say best player available and we feel good about the ninth pick and the player that we'll be able to select there.
Toronto: Tammy Sutton-Brown is the future of this franchise! Do you think Canadians get overlooked when it comes to the WNBA and do you think the potentially high drafting of Stacey Dales will open up a door for us canucks?! P.S. Dawn Staley is still the "general"!
Anne Donovan: I love all those comments! I have affection for the Canadians since I played with a great guard in the early 80's. Tammy has made a great mark in the WNBA and Stacey Dales will continue that. The door swings wide from Canada and there are a lot of good players in the league no matter where they come from.
Curt - Gastonia, NC: I feel it will be difficult for anyone who goes lower than the first round to make a WNBA team this year, particularly the Sting. Agree or disagree?
Anne Donovan: I'd have to disagree because I think there are two good rounds of players in this league. Maybe you realize that we don't have a second round pick! It will be very difficult for a third or fourth-rounder to make a WNBA roster, including the Sting. All that said, our fourth-round pick (Reshea Bristol) almost made our team last year.
Dave (Chesapeake, VA): With two sure ODU players and a possible third going in the WNBA Draft, do you ever find yourself rooting for players from the college you starred for and coached?
Anne Donovan: Well, you can't help but pull the heart strings. I have strong ties there and was pleased to see that the ODU girls represented well in Chicago. Maiga had a great camp and I'm proud of them.
Stingfaninphilly: How was your experience coaching with Coach Chancellor on the U.S. team? Did you get any tips that you may use against him?
Anne Donovan: Van made it very clear that he was coaching the U.S. team and that all the secrets he shares are strickly for the USA team. He's a great person, a wonderful coach and really knows how to work with players. I can think of nobody better to lead that team to China and pick up a gold there!
Sarah - Forest City, NC: Anne, I was wondering what your thoughts were on the Sting possibly becoming the first WNBA team with no NBA connection? I hope the Sting stay here!
Anne Donovan: We are hoping to stay in Charlotte. It's been a great experience for us, especially this coaching staff, to win the Eastern Conference championship our first year here. We know that we're here this summer and will work to do our fans proud. Whatever happens, happens, but our preference is to stay in Charlotee.
SeattleSistah: Hi Coach. Do you think this season's No. 1 pick will ensure the Storm a winning record?
Anne Donovan: I think it's difficult for one player to come in and turn a frachise around, and the reality of a franchise team is that it's a process. It takes a lot of players and time to build a franshise. It's a longer road for expansion teams. I speak from experience coaching Indiana its first year. It just takes time.
WNBAfan: I'm sensing that we're going to see a big-time trade before the draft, maybe even for the #1 pick. What is your gut telling you about the trade winds for Friday?
Anne Donovan: It's awfully windy out there! I don't know, this time of year the wind seems to pick up a bit and when the dust settles on Friday, we'll see. I think a trade will happen before then. How big? I don't know.
Sarah: Hi Anne! I am reading your book "Women's Basketball, the Post Player's Handbook." It is great and I would like to know what inspired you to write it?
Anne Donovan: This is great! I collaborated with a gentleman in Indiana, Dale Ratterman, and had it not been for him, I wouldn't have gotten thoughts down on paper. I think it is a helpful tool for younger players. Hopefully there's another in the future!
NYC (NYC): Hey Coach. Since you are a "big girl" yourself, do you look at someone like Cori Enghusen as a special project for yourself?
Anne Donovan: I think Cori is going to be a nice player. Yes, I have a soft spot for big girls. I think she'll find a spot in the WNBA. She has great moves and great hands and will find a way.
Giggy (Charlotte): Hi Anne!
David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar announced plans today to tour with one another this summer. Right now it looks like about 25 shows with the opportunity to fill another 20 or so. My question to you is, given the animosity between these two former Van Halen lead singers, how long do you think the tour will last?
Anne Donovan: Giggy, go back to work!
PhillyFan: How much does having a coach on the floor (Dawn Staley) make your job easier?
Anne Donovan: It makes my job so much easier to have someone with her ability as a coach, but as a player also. She leads our team by example. She and Andrea are our hardest workers. Add in Dawn's coaching abilities and she's a tremendous asset.
Becky (Nashville): Hi Coach. I have heard that many teams select their draft picks based mainly on a player's reputation or press. Is this true? Why is it that a player such as Vanderbilt's Zuzi Klimesova will likely get selected behind Snow, Williams and McDonald despite the fact she outperformed each head-to-head, had a better four-year career, and is arguably more flexible being capable of playing three positions, yet still is in danger of not making the first round? Is this a disservice to players from teams that aren't "media darlings"?
Anne Donovan: No, I think that coaches and GMs are able to look above stats or awards or the spotlight to discern talent. Zuzi brings a lot to the table. She is versatile, coachable and smart. In addition to her talent, that makes her a great pick. I have no doubt that she'll be drafted, get to camp and make a strong impression.
ALBERT (Ft. Campbell, KY): Coach Anne, first of all, congratulations on last season's run to the WNBA Finals. Looking at the schedule and with your first two games being against the past champions, and the next four on the road in six days, what will it take to avoid another slow start like last year? Also, how is Kelly Miller's overall progress and development, as she is being played in the 2 position, rather than the point, were she played mainly at UGA? Thanks, and good luck to the STING!
Anne Donovan: First question, experience will hopefully keep us from going 1-10 again. We got behind the 8-ball quickly, we had new players and a new staff. We're looking to pick up where we finished last year. We'll be challenged with LA and Houston out of the gates.
Kelly Miller will be a great player in this league. People have given up hope on her but that is not the case in Charlotte. Behind Dawn, Allison and Andrea, it's hard to find minutes. We are eager and we know that Kelly is one of the players of the future and can live up to that bill.
Marvin (Cornelius): Hi Coach. Congratulations on a great 2001 season. I heard on a recent Hornets/Sting update program that Shalonda Enis is pregnant and will miss at least part of the 2002 season. How does this change your draft strategy on Friday?
Anne Donovan: It's something that factors in. We hope that Shalonda will rejoin us sometime during the season as she's due near the first week of May. We will factor that in during the draft this season.
Melissa (São Paulo): Which teams will improve most this season in your opinion? I think highly of Indiana. I see them becoming a playoff team because some teams like the Liberty are getting older and could fall out of the race.
Anne Donovan: Indiana is a great pick. The offseason trades made them stronger. Catchings is 100% healthy and will be an impact player. A lot of teams will be better because players are healthy. Detroit has Wendy Palmer back and Orlando has Adrienne Johnson and Shannon Johnson back. A lot of teams will be better in the East.
Craig (Indianapolis): Anne, who do you like as a sleeper in the draft?
Anne Donovan: Jackie Higgins. She's been out of college, but she has the athleticism and the ability to play in the league. She played at North Carolina. Lenae Williams from DePaul is great. Not too many people follow that program, but she'll be a great WNBA player.
Marge: Hi Anne. In your playing career from NJ through ODU and USA, etc., is there one thing that you learned along the way that you have tried to pass on to the Sting and the other teams you've coached? You definitely left an impact on Bergen County -- people still mention you when the topic of basketball is brought up.
Anne Donovan: How nice that is to hear! I'm a Jersey girl at heart. Commitment as a player and a coach and being committed to being prepared. As a coach, being prepared and letting players know that I'm ready.
I just want to thank everybody for their questions. I'm looking forward to a fast start and an even better finish for the Sting this year. I can't wait for the summer!