The Indiana Fever barely missed the playoffs last season, yet came away
with the second overall pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft. With a solid nucleus in place
with perennial MVP candidate Tamika Catchings and fellow All-Star Natalie Williams,
the Fever and their coach Brian Winters might be looking for a specific type of
player to round out the roster on Draft day.
Q: How have you been
preparing for the upcoming draft?
A: I think you start preparing for the
draft very early. You start thinking about it when your season ends - looking
at how you think your team needs to improve, and making a list of needs. We scout
a lot of players both on film and in person. We go out and scout all the college
talent. If it's a player within the WNBA, we review tapes of them and their abilities.
And we look at a lot of statistics, both in the college and the pros. Occasionally
we'll talk with other coaches and seek other opinions. Usually we'll start with
statistics and film, and then when we get closer, we might find some more personal
information through a coach or someone close to her. We want to learn what kind
of person she is, how she reacts, how does she learn the best, those kinds of
Q: Are there specific holes or weaknesses that you're looking
to bolster with your picks?
A: You always look to find your weaknesses,
and the needs of your team. I think we can always use more leadership and use
more perimeter shooting. You can always look for that special talent that is better
than everyone else. Especially picking high in the draft, you always hope you
can find that special talent that can put you over the top in terms of winning
a championship. For our team this year, shooting is important, we're looking at
post players, someone who can dribble-drive and handle pressure at the end of
games, someone who can make a big play.
The Fever have the second pick on April 16.|
Q: What are the most important traits you look for
in a prospect?
A: You first start with their bodies - are they strong?
Are they athletic? What type of quickness do they have? You start there, then
you look at their skill level - dribbling, passing and shooting as they apply
to what kind of position they play on the court. And then you look at the intangibles
- the heart, the mind, do they play hard all the time? Are they leaders? Do they
just want to fit in? You have to look at what type of people they are.
What players have impressed you the most?
A: Probably the five top players
in the draft are Sandora Irvin, Kendra Wecker, Janel McCarville, Tan White, probably
Temeka Johnson. Basically those five. Sancho Lyttle is up there. After those five
or six, it usually gets down to team needs.
Q: What prospects do you
feel can make an immediate impact in the league this year?
A: Well, you
probably start with those top five players I mentioned. They could make a pretty
good impact, a few might even become starters. Then you have to look at Lyttle,
Kara Braxton who did not play at Georgia this year, maybe [Jacqueline] Batteast,
Dionnah Jackson, [Shyra] Ely, maybe [Kristin] Haynie from Michigan State. Those
types of players might make a difference off a bench this year, but in a couple
of years could certainly become starters in this league.
Q: How important
is the NCAA Tournament in helping you make any last-minute decisions?
It's helpful in the sense that you see players against the best competition and
the best teams. In a one-and-done and your out situation, they're usually high-pressure
games. They're usually well-rested for those games and they're trying to move
on. It's good to see them play in those games, but you can't just rest your opinion
on those games. You have to see them over time. Through an entire season and even
in previous seasons. You have to see if they've gotten better from their sophomore
year to their junior year, and from their junior year to their senior year. If
you don't see a lot of improvement, then you start to worry a little bit. But
if you see growth, then that's always a good thing.
Q: Would you consider
trading picks or players?
A: I think when you look at the draft, you consider
everything that can possibly happen. It doesn't look like we'll trade our pick,
but I'm not going to say that we won't because you never know. If someone gives
you an offer that you can't refuse, that can really improve your team and put
you over the top, then maybe you do make a deal. You keep your options open. You
look at other teams, see what their needs are and speculate on what they want.
Maybe there's a deal that makes sense that can help both teams. I think you always
Q: How much foreign scouting consumes your time?
Lin Dunn went overseas and spent a couple of weeks scouting some players this
winter. She watched some of our current players, some players that have played
in the WNBA, some players that are on the cusp and some of the younger European
players. She was in Spain, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. She saw some of the better
Euro leagues. It's good to have eyes over there. We also talk to some of the agents
over there, people who know who the better players are. We keep track of some
of the statistics and sometimes we get some film from time to time. We're always
looking for any player who is improving and getting better, and might want to
play in the WNBA.
Q: Are you more likely to fill your needs through the
draft, free agency or trades?
A: Those are all viable ways to do it. When
you fill your needs with the draft, you're looking for a player that can be with
your team for a long period of time. Free agency can be a stop-gap measure, but
it can also be a long-term option depending on the player, the player's age, and
what your needs are. With trades, you're really trying to fit a need on your team,
you trade somebody and try to get something back that fills a need on your team.
Sometimes you think you've got a great trade and the other team doesn't want to
do it - and sometimes that forces you to look more at free agency.