Coach Dunn Brings Southern Hospitality And Humor To The Fever

June 7, 2008 | by Ericka Sanders

Alison Bales grins when talking about new Indiana Fever head coach Lin Dunn.

“She doesn’t make everything about basketball,” she says. “She likes to throw little jokes in here and there.”

Maybe it’s Dunn’s Southern hospitality roots that allow her to play down her basketball genius at times. She probably can’t help it since she lived in every Southern state from Tennessee, where she was born, to Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

“I’m not from Southern Indiana,” she jokes with her patent southern drawl. “My father was a traveling salesman and that’s why we lived in so many different states. You just adjusted.”

Dunn may not have taken the same career path as her father but the traveling is just the same. After graduating from Tennessee-Martin and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Coach Dunn was born. After a six year stint with Austin Peay in her home state, Dunn spent time on the sideline at Mississippi, Miami (Fla.) and Miami before settling in Lafayette, Ind. with the Purdue Boilermakers where she coached from 1987 until 1996.

After getting her digs in the college ranks, Dunn moved on to the professional game where she was the head coach of the Portland Power in the ABL, head coach and general manager for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA and assistant coach and now head coach with Indiana.

What kind of Southern hospitality does Dunn bring to the Fever?

“Well, I’d like to say I’ve taught them all how to cook but I can’t say I’ve done that,” she jokes again. “I would say friendliness, approachable and easy going. I think those are characteristics of the South.”

Niceness aside, Dunn has also brought with her the toughness of the South, which could be characterized as the ability to stay strong and get stronger while going through adversity. And how has she done so? With defensive prowess.

Before taking on head coaching duties Dunn was in charge of the team’s defense, which in recent years has been tops in the league.

“This team has built its identity on defense and I think Coach Dunn has played a major role in that,” said Katie Douglas. “We take pride on the defensive end because offense can come and go during the games. Coach Dunn has a mindset about playing out every possession and having a sense of urgency, and we need that to be our identity.”

Along with her experience and familiarity with the team, Fever Chief Operating Officer and General Manger Kelly Krauskopf knew she didn’t have to look far to find Brian Winters’ replacement after last season.

“It was important for us to hire someone who had head coaching experience and who understood what it takes to win in this league,” she said. “She is a strong leader who is a proven winner with incredible basketball knowledge.”

Bales and Douglas know of that knowledge directly. While Dunn recruited Douglas from Indianapolis’ Perry Meridian High School to play at Purdue, she also groomed Bales college coach at Duke, Gail Goestenkors who served as an assistant with the Boilermakers.

“Coach G learned a lot while coaching under Coach Dunn and those are the skills and techniques that I learned,” Bales says. “Also, Lin came to Duke a lot and would give us tips and help Coach G come up with new (game plans). So she was familiar with my game and I was familiar with her, and I think that helps.”

Although Dunn hasn’t taught her team how to cook in the kitchen, she says she’s quite the chef. Her specialties include homemade vegetable soup where she might add chicken, rib eye steak, okra or black eyed peas; as well as spaghetti and of course a Southern favorite, fried chicken.

“I have a secret family recipe, which I of course cannot give out,” she says with a laugh.

Dunn does offer a tip however.

“The secret to making it really tender is we fry it, cover it and then bake it a little bit. That keeps it from getting too tough,” she adds. “But there are still some herbs and spices that are secret. We don’t even write the recipe down because we’re afraid it’ll end up in a cooking book.”