Q&A with Lady Grooms

Lady Grooms enjoyed an 8-year WNBA career and now takes her defensive mindset to the Liberty as Assistant Coach. NYLiberty.com sat down with Grooms to discuss her coaching background and what she will bring to the Liberty in the 2011 season.

NYLiberty.com: How did you come to the Liberty and what have you been up to the last few months?

Lady Grooms: I came to the Liberty because of Coach Whisenant. I played under him for four years in Sacramento. We developed a great relationship, and then I left and had a daughter. I started coaching high school basketball and I used his "White Line Defense," so we continued to talk over the last four years about "White Line Defense" and about my success doing it as an AAU coach and a high school coach. When he came to the Liberty, I guess that was one of the first things he thought about; bringing his people back in. He knows me and he loves his defense, so I'm somebody that can add a piece to the "White Line."

NYLiberty.com: How is your high school team, Arlington Christian (Atlanta, GA), doing right now?

Grooms: For the last two years we went undefeated and won the State Championship. So, hopefully we're going to get a three-peat. We're in a higher division right now and it's very competitive, but we like it. We're still undefeated.

NYLiberty.com: How would you describe your coaching philosophy and what have you learned from Coach Whisenant?

Grooms: The philosophy for Coach Whisenant and his blueprint has always been defense. When he first got to Sacramento, we had a team that really didn't have a lot of direction. We had talent, so when he got there he brought the defensive mentality. It benefited me because I was so athletic. I liked the defense because I went to the University of Georgia and Coach Landers was big on defense. I always liked Coach Whisenant's defense, and I think that's what made Sacramento win. When I got the opportunity to coach, I was trying to find my own identity. I talked to Coach Landers and Coach Whisenant, and they asked me "What do you think is your blueprint for success in basketball," and I said "Defense." And that's what you do. You go in there and teach defensive and stay consistent. It's definitely a key to success, and if you have scorers and you're doing the right thing and everyone believes in it, all it does is build chemistry. In that defense you have to talk. In essence, I felt like the defense brought my team together when I was a new coach.

NYLiberty.com: How different is it coaching in high school compared to coaching in the WNBA with the pros?

Grooms: This will be my first time actually coaching on the pro level. In high school you have some kids who "kind of" love it, and some kids that like it, and it's easy to walk away from. You have be a good communicator and a good motivator to make them keep playing. But in the pro level, you don't have to do that. These players want to be better and they want to win. Anytime you play at the pro level, it's to win a ring. If you're playing at a high level, college or professional, you want to win and be successful. So if you have someone out there that's willing to work with you and teach you and be on your side, then I think it's going to be easier. I've already emailed everybody on the Liberty team, and every last one of them emailed me back. Some of them Googled my name and saw that I played professionally, so there's a different respect when I walk in the door anyways. And because of Coach Whisenant, I already won a championship. He has immediate respect when he walks in. At the pro level, you respect the ones that have been where they want to be. I love high school because it's at it's purest form and you're actually teaching. To see some of my seniors now compared to when they first got here, it's definitely a treat because I know I was a big part of that. I know I'm not going to be part of the fundamental success of some of the Liberty players because they already have it. Hopefully I'll be successful teaching them all the little things that I see, and continue to make them great.

NYLiberty.com: What are you looking forward to most with the Liberty?

Grooms: I look forward to working with pro players. The training is different and it's the way I like to train. You can't train like that in high school. I like to work with them at that high level and I look forward to seeing them practice every day. I'll be practicing with them so it'll be even more of a treat for me. I'm excited to win because I saw the entire playoffs of the Liberty and the Dream, and I saw a lot of little things that could have been done. I look forward to winning, and I really do think that barring injury and with the players New York has now, we can win. I look forward to teaching that "White Line Defense" to them and being successful.

NYLiberty.com: What is one thing you would like to tell the fans about the upcoming 2011 Liberty season?

Grooms: If I'm in New York or in New Jersey and I'm a fan, I'm excited. Especially because of the success they had last year and knowing this year will be even better. I went on a train and rode to the Prudential Center, and what an awesome facility it is. So if I'm a fan, I'm there. I want to see it. I want to witness everything that the New York Liberty have to offer this summer from the beginning, because it's definitely going to be exciting. The defense generates excitement because you're stealing the ball and going down there and making layups, and that's exciting for basketball fans. So, definitely with that whole defensive philosophy in New York and all the talent they have, they're going to get down this year!