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Maryland G Kristi Toliver
We all remember the shot Kristi Toliver hit in the 2006 National Championship game that sent the game to overtime and propelled the University of Maryland to its first NCAA women's basketball title. The shot not only help lift the Terrapin program to new heights, it also gave us a signature moment from Toliver, a moment that showed her talent, courage, leadership and passion. And that moment came when she was just a freshman.
Over the next three years she would continue to hone her game and today she stands as one of the top guard prospects in the 2009 WNBA Draft. A highly skilled point guard with the scoring ability of a shooting guard, Toliver brings a unique package to the WNBA.
As she prepares for the next chapter in her basketball career, Toliver answered questions from WNBA.com to let us get a closer look at who she is both on and off the court.
WNBA.com: What have you been doing and working on since the end of your team's season?
Toliver: Well, our season ended a few days ago and I am currently in Detroit participating in the 3-point contest at the men's Final Four. I guess you could say I am working on my jump shot!
WNBA.com: What memories do you have about your college hoops experience? What will you remember most?
Toliver: I have so many great memories wearing a Maryland uniform, but the best memory by far would be winning the National Championship my freshman year in Boston. I will remember being apart of something historical for our school and putting Maryland back on the map as a basketball powerhouse.
WNBA.com: What strengths, qualities or skills will you bring or add to a WNBA team?
Toliver: I will bring a lot to the pro game! I have always taken pride in being an entertainer out there on the court and I am sure that will continue at the pro level. I am a playmaker who loves to run the floor and get my teammates great shots. My fundamentals have taken me far and I think that I will only continue to keep the entertainment alive at the next level.
WNBA.com: What skills do you feel you need to improve or work on at the next level?
Toliver: I think that defensively I will need to elevate my skills. I am a good help defender and can anticipate plays, but I will need to take more pride in my on ball defense. The pro game has a different style where one-on-one matchups can be exposed, so that will be essential to continue to help my team best I can.
WNBA.com: What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges or adjustments at the next level?
Toliver: I think the biggest challenge will be the schedule that exists in the pro game. In college you only play twice a week and in the next level you play a lot more games a week with a lot more travel. The bright side to that is you practice less!
WNBA.com: Is there a current WNBA player you model your game after, or that you look up to?
Toliver: Well, growing up I was all about UConn, so naturally I watched Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi a lot. I loved watching them play together because I found different things I liked about them. Diana had the energy, swagger and playmaking ability that I love. Sue moved like a ballerina on the floor, so smooth. I liked her quiet confidence and killer instinct. Those two complemented one another great and I took a lot from both of their games.
WNBA.com: What WNBA players are you most looking forward to playing against or meeting?
Toliver: I am looking forward to playing again my former teammates; Harp, Lang and Riss. I think I'll have a blast competing against those guys and we will have a lot of fun with one another on the court again.
WNBA.com: Who are some of your all-time dream teammates that you'd want to play with?
Toliver: Well, I was lucky enough to play with dream teammates at Maryland, so I am already blessed! However, if I couldn't choose those guys I would definitely have Diana Taurasi, Lauren Jackson, Sylvia Fowles, and Tamika Catchings.
WNBA.com: What are a few things people need to know about you personally and what you'll bring to the WNBA?
Toliver: I love being a positive figure and role model for athletes around the country. I think people need to know that I am approachable and that my competitive nature sometimes may mislead people into thinking I'm not, but that is just how I am on the court.
WNBA.com: What are you thinking and feeling as the Draft approaches?
Toliver: I am really excited and anxious to see what happens at the Draft. I am full of different emotions, but mainly I am just really eager and excited to see who I will be playing for and getting a chance to meet my new coaches and teammates.
WNBA.com: What is your best on-court moment?
Toliver: My best on-court moment was the feeling I had winning the national championship my freshman year at Maryland. There aren't many people who have been on that stage and succeeded, so to have that experience I am truly blessed.
WNBA.com: What is your most embarrassing moment (either on or off the court)?
Toliver: Well, off the court on a road trip to Boston, we were driving to play Boston College and I asked my teammate Laura Harper if Boston College was in Boston. My teammates never let me live that one down, but I still think it was a valid question.
(Note to Kristi's teammates from Maryland: Boston College is located in Chestnut Hill, Mass., not Boston.)
WNBA.com: What is your source of inspiration when it comes to basketball?
Toliver: I think it's my competitive nature that keeps me inspired and motivated. I believe I was blessed with a gift and it would be wasteful if I did not do the best I possibly could everyday.
WNBA.com: What do you like to do to relax off the court?
Toliver: I love watching movies! I do a great job at doing nothing and lying around all day, so naturally watching movies is one of my favorite things to do. I quote movie lines all the time, so I really find out a lot about someone when they're able to give me a line back.
WNBA.com: What is your favorite movie, book, musician, TV show, and magazine?
Toliver: My favorite book would be "The Last Lecture", musician would be James Taylor, and magazine would be ESPN The Magazine because that's the only one I really read.