Dunn Talks About the 'Hall'

By Tom Rietmann | June 9, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Lin Dunn hasn't yet composed the speech for her induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, but she has a solid plan about its theme.

Gratitude.

More specifically, the Indiana Fever coach wants to express appreciation to all of the folks who made it possible for her to reach the summit in her chosen profession.

“It's always really about the people,” said Dunn, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn. “When you look back, I don't remember the scores … but I do remember the people. I will probably be saying thank you to those people.”

Many of them will be on hand. Fever President Kelly Krauskopf, Dunn's coaching staff and star forward Tamika Catchings will be part of the Indiana team contingent there Saturday.

Before that, on Wednesday night, the Fever club is planning to honor Dunn in a ceremony prior to the team's game against Seattle at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. WNBA President Laurel Richie will be in The Fieldhouse, too.

In the ceremony at Knoxville, Dunn will be escorted by Buddy Viniard, who coached her during her playing days at Dresden (Tenn.) High School. Dunn lists Viniard as one of her favorite mentors, one who had a strong influence. In that same category are Noona Kennard and Betty Giles, who played huge parts in developing Dunn's coaching philosophy.

That philosophy revolves around a basic concept: developing mental strength in her teams. As Catchings explained about playing for Dunn: “It's about being tough and playing for a coach who constantly wants to get the best out of you.”

Dunn is in her 38th year as a college or professional head coach and owns 668 victories. She began as the Fever's head coach in 2008 and is 123-89 in six-plus seasons, including a WNBA championship in 2012. She will retire after the 2014 season.

Dunn may be departing as a full-time teacher of the game, but she will continue to rank as one of the true trailblazers in women's basketball. Krauskopf, who first hired Dunn as a Fever scout in 2003, knew the team was gaining a driven individual and extraordinary basketball person but also one that came with a captivating personality.

“Lin is sort of in that last generation of coach that has built the game,” Krauskopf said, also mentioning names such as Jody Conradt, Pat Summitt and Sylvia Hatchell. “It's not about gender. (Dunn is) a very, very good coach. … I think the next one, to me, should be (the) Naismith (Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame).”

Krauskopf has grown accustomed to getting text messages from Dunn in the wee hours about a player she saw or a team she watched. Those texts came not necessarily during the WNBA season. Many could be found on Krauskopf's phone in February -- in the middle of the Fever's off-season.

“She's a relentless competitor,” Krauskopf said about Dunn. “Really, it's about work ethic. It's part of her DNA.”

Krauskopf smiled.

“You know that saying: 'They broke the mold'? There's really no one else out there, to me, in the game like her,” Krauskopf said. “They broke the mold.

“Somebody else is going to have to come along and create the new character and figure in the game, have that kind of passion, but also have their own style. (Dunn) has just done it by being herself. She wasn't trying to impress anybody. She is just a flat-out, relentless competitor.”

For Dunn, Saturday's ceremony in Knoxville will have special meaning. She received her graduate degree from the nearby University of Tennessee. Many family members and friends will attend the induction.

The 67-year-old Dunn, during an interview this week, was asked about the legacy she hopes to leave after her retirement.

“I do think I want to be remembered as somebody who coached teams that got better,” Dunn said. “You know what I'm saying: If you played for a Lin Dunn-coached team, you got better. You may not have liked her. You may not have agreed with her. But you got better.”

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