You Ask, She Answers: Leilani Mitchell

Last month, guard Leilani Mitchell blogged in Liberty Hoopla from her new home-away-from-home in France, to let Liberty fans know that she was up for taking their questions. You sent in yours and waited patiently for a response. Well, the long wait is finally over and Ms. Mitchell has delivered. Whether it was on the court chatter or off the court banter, she's got it covered. Check out her answers your questions!


After watching you play your senior season at Utah (I'm a huge Wyoming fan), what is the biggest difference between the coaching style of Elaine Elliott and that of Pat Coyle? I'm a Liberty fan all the way from Wyoming :) -- Kelsey

Oh, a mountain west fan, huh? Always good to hear :) Elaine and Patty actually teach similar concepts, but I would have to say that the biggest difference would be their coaching styles. I think both of their passions for the game are the same. Each of their passions, rubs off onto their players. It motivates us to play hard. I think both styles have their own benefits! Itís something I really admire in both women and I hope I can do that if I decide to coach one day.

Hey, Leilani! It's your shirt designer! It was great meeting you in the last regular season game (I wanted to get a picture with you, though). But I what I want to know is what inspired you to start playing basketball, and when did you decide that going pro was what you wanted to do? And do you consider yourself a Knicks fan? -- Dalem

Hey Dalem! Great job on the shirts, everybody loved them! I brought mine over to France with me, and the Frenchies have taken a liking to it also! I would have to say that it was definitely my family that inspired me to play basketball. Having parents that play sports, as well as five brothers, I really had no choice but to play (LOL). As far as deciding to play professionally, I always knew that I loved basketball and I wanted to play for as long as I could. So when the opportunity came, I jumped on it! Who wouldnít want to get paid for doing something you love? And yes, I am the newest Knicks fan!

Madison Square Garden is LOUD! How do you handle all of that noise? -- Brittany

Yes we have some GREAT fans, donít we? :) And at times it's hard to hear the plays being called, so we just try to speak as much as possible during dead balls and free throws. Hand signals go a long way, too!

Hey Leilani! Hey is France as bad as my French teacher makes it seem, and do you wish you could have played more than one year for the University of Utah and why. Oh I think its cool the players on your team speak English. Happy Holidays have fun in France. -- Paige

France is great! I love it here. My teammates are all very nice and I'm in a good location, just a 50 minute train ride to Paris! The country is very beautiful and I havenít had any problems with people being mean or rude, but like you, I also heard bad things about France before I came over. So glad that hasnít been the case. As far as Utah goes, of course I wish I was there longer. I loved the city, my teammates, coaches and the school. I couldnít have asked for a better way to finish out my career. I miss it so much!

Lei, obviously Janel McCarville is the best post player in the wnba, but if you could have any post player from any team who would you most like to play with and why? Oh, and what's your pre game routine? -- Nicole Lorenzetti

Janel is a good one, isnít she?! But if I HAD to pick a post player from another team, I think Iíd have to go with the vet Taj [McWilliams-Franklin]. She may not be the youngest or quickest out there, but sheís still got moves and gets the job done. Sheís got such a presence on the court. Pre-game ritual? A nap, for sure!!!

Welcome to the NY Liberty! It was a pleasure watching you play this season. And I had a blast getting to talk to you at the Randall's Island event. Watching you in the batting cage was impressive. What other sports do you play besides basketball? Would you like to play them professionally if you could? Be careful, and have a great time in France. See you next season! Happy Holidays! -- Patricia

Thanks! I really enjoyed myself at that event as well! I love all sports. In the past, Iíve played softball, volleyball, soccer, and a lot of football for fun. I would have to say that football is one of my favorites. I love Saturdays in the fall, laying on the couch and watching college football all day. So if I could, Iíd like to play for those Utah Utes that just went undefeated ;)

Ditto on the great first season and instant fan favorite. What is the name of your team and in what city in France is it. -- Eileen

Thanks for the support! I really enjoyed myself last summer and we hope to make you all proud again next season. The official name of my team in France is Arras Pays Díartois basket feminin, or Arras for short. And thatís also the name of the city Iím in. See you next summer!

Hi Leilani. I play high school basketball but im only 5'3, do you have any tips for me to better my game to make it to college. Oh yeah how do you like it in France, just wanted to know because im visiting paris in april. Hope you have a good holidays. -- Megan

Ahh, 5í3' Ö only gotchya by an inch and a half ;) (LOL). Um, I would have to say that working hard goes a long way. Stay committed to getting better. Which means your gonna have to put in a lot of extra time, outside of team practices. This is when you can really improve your personal skills. Get a lot of extra shots up, and because of your size, I'm guessing youíre a point guard? So a lot of ball handling drills will also be beneficial. Iím living in Arras, which is very close to Paris. Just went there for the first time this past weekend and LOVED it! Hope you like it as much as I did. Itís a great view from the Eiffel Tower! You gotta see it at night, beautiful!

Hello Leilani, How are you doing? What is it like to play basketball in another country? What is the travel like for basketball overseas? What type of salary players receive? Does your team have a website? -- P

Well this is my first year playing overseas, so I donít have as much experience as others do. But as far as France goes, I am enjoying it. My team is not in Euro-league or Euro-cup, so we only have one game per week Ö which means a lot of practicing, lucky me ;) France is a small country so we usually take the train to our away games. We've had quite a few five-hour train rides. As far as the basketball goes, France is a pretty competitive league so each game is a challenge, whereas that may not be the case in a lot of other countries. So thatís a positive. As far as a website goes, I know there is a French league website but not sure about an Aras website. But the French website is www.basketfrance.com.

Hi Lisa, hope all is well. Watching you play at the Garden at every home game is so exciting. You are a like a little spark plug; full of energy. Take care, be well and see you soon. :) -- Ree

Hahaha thanks for the nickname, LOL, it's cute :) Playing in the WNBA is a dream come true and playing at The Garden in front of all the great fans makes it so much more memorable. Thanks for the support and we hope to see you again this summer!

I think it is great the Liberty players take the time to stay in touch with the fans back in New York. Do you think you will keep in touch with the fans from France when you are back in NY? How much time off do you get between the two leagues? -- Lisa

Well we couldnít do it without the support from our fans so itís the least we can do to show our appreciation! As far as keeping in touch with the French fans, I sure would like to! Iíve met some wonderful people and my teammates are great. I will be sure to keep in touch with them but the fans and I have got a bit of a language barrier (LOL), our communication is pretty limited to smiles and head nodding (LOL). My French needs some work!

Leilani: What a pleasure to watch you in your first season in the WNBA-I don't think I've ever seen anyone become a fan favorite as quickly as you did. Just one question: Do you mind that we (the fans) call you "Mini-me"? Enjoy your season in France. Stay healthy and bonne chance! -- Kate

Et coucou!!! Tu parle franÁais? Cíest bien! Je parle un peu franÁais, but I'm taking French lessons. So Iím getting a little better! And since you speak French, I guess I'll be ok with mini-me ;)

Lei, first, let me say that you really were outstanding during what I believe is the second quarter of one of the games with Detroit. You had a mission and you just ran through defense like a small Danny Ainge. You were unstoppable. You had a very good year. Where are you in France? Are you in an international league -- -- shame on me for not knowing this. I felt that we should have at least had some little party for the Liberty players, maybe in a restaurant or something. -- Ellen

We were so close that game! But weíve learned from it and weíre using it as motivation for next season. A party or get together definitely would have been fun at the end of the season; weíll just have to make it twice as big/fun next year when we win that championship ;) Until then, Iím in Arras France. My team isnít in an international league, the only downside to it. Thanks again for your support and weíll see you this summer!!!


Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I had a blast reading and catching up with everyone back in the U.S. I'll see you all this summer at The Garden!