Plenette Pierson on What to Expect from Laimbeer
By Ros Gold-Onwude
What do you think of the new hire? Have you had the chance to speak to Bill Laimbeer?
I spoke to him when he got hired. I’m excited. I’m excited about the possibilities, the potential. I hope his personality trickles down to the team. He brings a toughness we may have been missing in New York.
You’ve played for Coach Laimbeer in Detroit; do you have any stories about him to share?
(She laughs). I do. When I first got into Detroit to play for the Shock, he called me in and sat me down. He’s a very straightforward guy. I was new to the team, hadn’t even been in Detroit eight hours, but he called me in immediately to talk. He said he couldn’t promise me any minutes this season. That was it. I actually respected his realness. I saw it as a challenge. He is that kind of coach. He is upfront and you have to work for “yours. “ He won’t just give you anything.
You went from potentially” no minutes” in 2006 to receiving the Sixth Woman of the Year Award in 2007. How did Coach bring that out of you?
He showed me how to be a better player. Sometimes it was showing me a different move. Making sure I understood how to maximize my body as an undersized post. He showed me what I could do that a 6’5” post couldn’t….how to use my quickness. Ultimately I respond well to being challenged. I took it personally. No minutes? I like that because, okay, I’m going to prove you wrong. I earned every minute on that floor and relished it.
Coach Laimbeer’s teams won three WNBA championships with the Detroit Shock. You were on the team for two of those in 2006 and 2008. What’s it like to win with him?
First of all, he is a “player’s coach”. He’s played himself, at the highest level; he knows what it’s like to be on the court and in those situations.
There was one time we were in playoffs and we were all sure that coach was going to kill us in practice because it was playoffs time and the pressure was up. But no… nope. He walked into the gym smooth and relaxed. He brought speakers with him to practice. We listened to music while shooting and practicing. In that way, it took some of the stress off of our shoulders during playoffs.
He’d also mess with you, playfully. He knows how to get me fired up. Before a game he’d say something like, “I heard Rebekkah Brunson said she sent a limo for you because she’s getting ready to send you home after they beat y'all”. (She laughs) I’d be like, “Oh yeah? Oh yeah?” All ready to go.
Laimbeer has a reputation for being demanding. Break that down for us… He knows… realizes your potential before you do. It’s as simple as that.
In past interviews, Coach Laimbeer has said he wants to use you at the smaller “three” position more than in the “four” position as a post. How comfortable with that idea are you?
I am comfortable with it. In Detroit, I would play the three position, more out on the wing. In his system you see a lot of positions interchange. The 3-4-5 can be played by multiple players. The 1-2-3 will also be fluid. This will just give us more options, more looks, and make us more dangerous in transition. Whoever gets it can go. Whoever gets down in the paint first can post. I’d describe his style as “interchangeable, fast, and physical”. That’s what Laimbeer’s game is about.
How will you prepare yourself to get ready for coach’s new system changes? What will you work on?
I’m working on consistency. That is the name of the game for me. That’s both physical and mental. I’m working on my shooting form, ball handling, and driving consistently.
There may be roster changes. How do you approach this possibility?
This is a part of the game. I understand that, especially as a veteran in the league. This year’s team, in particular, had very good team camaraderie and chemistry off of the court. Changes will be sad but the organization will try and find the pieces we need to win “The Chip” in New York. If that means parting ways, that’s the way it has to be. That’s the business; from year to year teams can look entirely different. The changes are made with success and winning as the goal.
Can Coach Laimbeer be the coach to win the New York Liberty its first WNBA championship?
He can. I think he will be. I think the key will actually be more about us as players buying into his system and fully committing. He has the type of system where if one player isn’t in, it will disrupt the entire team.