Prior to the 2004 WNBA season, Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer speculated that it might be easier to win a second consecutive WNBA championship after winning the prize in 2003. However, after a mediocre start and an injury to Olympian Swin Cash, the Shock were eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Expect the Shock to have a chip on their shoulder in 2005, and expect Laimbeer to consider any trade or any prospect in the 2005 WNBA Draft that will make his team better this season.

Q. How have you been preparing for the upcoming WNBA Draft? What methods do you utilize to scout players for the draft?
"We've been preparing for the WNBA Draft by visiting games and looking at statistics that we've been compiling all season long. We will visit games especially if prospects are playing against good teams or are in the playoffs. We look at their leadership ability and how they play against the better competition."

Q. When do you start getting prepared for the draft?
"We start preparing for the draft probably in November, when the games started going on. We compiled a list of who we thought would be available. Then we started to plan our schedule to visit them and started calling around to try and understand who the player was."

The Shock have the seventh overall pick on April 16.
Allen Einstein
NBAE/Getty Images

Q. Are there specific areas or holes/weaknesses are you looking to bolster with your picks?
"Yes, we are looking for a backup point guard and a backup small forward."

Q. What are the most important traits you look for in prospects?
"Leadership, a smart player, and at least one specific WNBA skill, whether that is speed, shooting, height, rebounding, or something else they can hang their hat on to be successful in this league."

Q. With your pick, are you targeting a specific player, a position, or will you take the best available players?
"We are probably going to target a certain position. I'm not sure we'll go with the best available player, but we have our frontcourt, our four and our five, all locked up solid. Our two guard is pretty locked up too, so we need a position player or a trade may happen."

Q. What prospects do you feel can or will make an immediate impact in the League this season? Are there any surprises?
"I don't see any surprises and I think most of the players will be role players. Our league is so difficult to crack into right now that I just don't see a lot of starters in this draft."

Q. How important is the Tournament in helping you make last minute decisions? How closely does a player's performance in the NCAA Tournament affect her draft status?
"The Tournament is all-important in making last minute decisions. You really get to see how they perform under pressure. Also, they are playing against better competition, quite frankly. They are playing against the best teams and the best players, especially as the Tournament goes along. Its unfortunate some got knocked out early, but that just lends to a weaker conference and makes you have some question marks."

Q. How does this year's Draft compare to previous ones?
"This year's draft is average. Last year was strong and deep. This year by no stretch of the imagination is that way. Last year had some marquee starters also, especially the top two picks. But this one is going to be an average draft with maybe nine or ten player from this draft making it to the league."

Q. Are you looking to trade or considering trading picks/players?
"Yes, I'm always looking to trade. I'll trade players and/or picks to improve our ball club at anytime it will make sense for us. Do I anticipate any? Not in our top six players, maybe our fringe players and our draft pick will be used to cement a certain position."

Q. Does foreign scouting consume a lot of your time in the off-season?
"No. We rely on foreign scouts that we have overseas for us and then we look at tape. This year we had our first foreign player in a while-that is Irina Osipova from Russia, 6-foot-5 and runs like the wind. That is a good pick up for us, but I don't do a lot of foreign scouting."

Q. What kinds of traits do you look for in players?
"Leadership, speed, defense, and then some other skill or physical tool that can be utilized in our league."

Q. With free agency as an option now, are you more likely to fill needs through the Draft, free agency, or trades?
"All of the above. We signed a rookie free agent in Osipova from Russia. The draft we are counting on to fill in spots. And also I believe that we will end up making some kind of a trade to find a better role player for us (whether it is a nine, ten or eleven player on our team) that will fit the chemistry of our ball club."