From L.A. to Indy: A Conversation with Ebony Hoffman

Ebony Hoffman recently completed her first season in the WNBA, and took time with the Fever website to reflect on her first season, playing alongside Tamika Catchings, working toward her second pro season, and spending an offseason in Indianapolis. Following is the first of two parts of a chat with the friendly, usually outspoken and always animated Ebony Hoffman.

FW: What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you look back on your first season in the WNBA?
EH: ďFrom the standpoint of my play, I think it was a real learning experience to feel out how much faster and stronger everybody was, and being able to cope with that and still play at a high level. What this offseason presents is the chance for me to get stronger, get a little faster and take it into next year.Ē

FW: What are the positive things that you did on the basketball court?
EH: ďI thought I rebounded the ball really well, and I thought I defended adequately, at least so far as I was coached to do. The biggest negative was that we lost games. We didnít make it as far as we should have. It was disappointing when we lost Tamika at the end of the season. We were on a roll and we let that freak accident affect us. When stuff like that happens, we have to play at a higher level. When your star player does get hurt, you have to play better. I think Iíll be ready for that to happen if that happens again.Ē

FW: How do you analyze yourself critically from last season?
EH: ďI think offensively, I wasnít as much a commanding force as I usually have been. I thought I was tentative, waiting to get other people shots. I was too indecisive. Iím hoping that everybody will see it when I play from now on that I am the one forcing the action, rather than just reacting to everyone around me.Ē

FW: Looking into the future, how would you assess your game for 2005?
EH: ďPowerful, a force to be reckoned with. I have a lot to prove, after being a No. 9 pick and not really doing as much as I was expected to do last year. This year, I have to live up to expectations, at least my own expectations.Ē

FW: Do you really feel that you failed to meet anyoneís expectations last season?
EH: ďMy own. I didnít exceed or reach the type of expectations that I had set for myself. Thatís just being hard on myself, trying to be the best I can be. Iím sure everybody has goals that they just donít quite reach and they are upset about.Ē

FW: Any personal goals or expectations for 2005?
EH: ďI guess I want do draw more respect from the other teams. I want people to see me as our most improved player. I think my teammates respect what I can do on the court, but in a game, the defense is going to focus on Tamika. I want to establish another threat, so that she isnít double- or triple-teamed or being fouled every 15 seconds. There needs to be somebody else on that court that can relieve her from being the other teamís entire focus.Ē

FW: Your WNBA season began immediately after your college season at USC. How have you coped with the transition to pro ball and what is the status of your final college classes?
EH: ďI took some finals last year and I still have one to take. I should be finished in the fall of 2005, hopefully. Itís a much more difficult transition than people think. Itís not easy to leave your mindset of going back and forth between school and classes all the time Ė to not doing anything but just focusing on basketball. Itís really a different way of life that requires discipline to remain focused. The basketball aspect is a 100 percent focus when you go from college to pro. When I go back to school, Iím going to have a hard time getting back into that school mindset with classes everyday and papers to write.

ďWith me being in Indiana, I have a hardship having to communicate with L.A. Iíd like to do some stuff via the Internet and correspond over the phone, but since I have to file for hardship at USC because my job is in another state, coordinating those things are difficult.Ē

FW: What is your college major?
EH: ďInternational relations with an emphasis in global business. It involves a lot of debating and negotiations with people. It deals with international business and the politics of business Ė and politics in general. Itís difficult to finish those classes without interaction with people. It involves verbal interaction, but it canít really be done over the phone!Ē

FW: How has life been in Indianapolis, compared to L.A.?
EH: ďIím a lot different from most people in L.A., because I never really grew up a city girl to begin with. I was always a homebody in Los Angeles. In my opinion, L.A. is not for young people Ė if youíre under 21, itís not the greatest place to be because youíre limited in what you can do.

ďL.A.ís real fast, there is always stuff going on, but I love Indianapolis. Iím actually thinking of making a transition to move here. The city is nice, the people are great. The highway is not hard to follow Ė 465 is a big circle and no traffic jams! Boy, thatís the biggest thing! I can leave the house 20 minutes before an appointment and donít have to worry about being late Ė instead of having to leave an hour-and-a-half before the appointment actually starts.

ďItís a lot different from my home, but the only hard part for me is not having my family around. I grew up in L.A., I went to college in L.A., and now Iím in a completely different part of the country. The weather has been the biggest change for me. Iíve dealt with everything else, but the weather is getting a little cold. My car has to warm up in the morning and Iíve never had to do that before!

Part 2 of Ebony's conversation with the Fever website can be viewed on Wednesday, Dec. 1.