2006 Preseason Media Teleconference
Dave Cowens | Anne Donovan | Richie Adubato | Paul Westhead | Bill Laimbeer | Mike Thibault | Van Chancellor
Because of technical difficulties with the call recording device, several coaches transcripts who spoke on Monday were lost and will not be included.
Opening Statement: Comment on the upcoming season is going to be one Im looking forward to, finding out an awful lot about the WNBA and the excitement around the games, the talent in the league, how the other coaches coach, and just being in the gym with the competition and the crowds and Im just looking forward to it.
Q: Talk about the progress of Candace Dupree and how shes been shaping up.
A: Shes better than I thought she was. Very fluid, pretty tough kid. I thought she was a little more laid back than she really is, but shes got sort of a laid back demeanor, pretty aggressive and very competitive. I think she can be as good as good as she wants to be and I think shes getting better all the time.
Q: What has impressed you the most about the league now that youre a few games in?
A: I think the biggest thing that I see is the camaraderie. Just how good teammates women are to one another and how well they treat each other and how much fun they being around one another. So I think thats been the biggest surprise.
Q: Talk about team chemistry and building something from scratch.
A: I think were trying to put in a style of play that we have no go-to players that may be every day somebody is going to be the star of the game and theyll be different game in and game out. Were allowing players to make the right decision at the right time for the right reason. Getting people to learn multiple positions and understanding the game flows best when people dont have either other than trying to do what I just talked about [not] trying to think too much, just play the game and take what the defense gives you and let it happen.
Q: What did you like about Liz Shimek?
A: I just think that this year based
on what she has done in the past, she was a pretty close first-round pick. Based
on where you think were going to end up this year, if we end up with the
fifth or sixth worst record in the league and depending where Houston ends
up its not that big of a difference in terms of swapping draft picks.
Even if we were to end up in the basement and have the fifteenth pick, I was looking
at next years draft list and I went over it with some people and kind of
feel like, Is she as good a player as somebody there would be. But
we get her and have her all year and see what shes all about and help our
team as were going forward. Shes a good shooter when shes standing
still its just a little bit of what I learned about her so far, shes
got a lot to think about cause shes so new to what were doing,
so shes not relaxed and comfortable and settled in. She runs well, shes
got good hands, shes strong, and shes durable. Will she ever be a
star in the league? I dont know. They all have the potential to be, but
I just think shes as good as anybody we can get next year, even if we finish
with the fifteenth pick.
A: What I have found out with this bunch is they are sort of unselfish to a fault and I dont understand what thats all about. I think they approach the game when theyre driving to the basket, instead of thinking about Im going to score, somehow passing gets in there and it almost holds them back instead of just owning the moment to themselves and trying to finish everything off they sort of back off a little bit. Im trying to get them out of that bad habit. I explain to them its not about being selfish, youre making a mistake when youre not taking advantage of a certain situation for a preconceived notion. The other thing is they move too fast; theyre trying to do stuff in a hurry, almost a little bit panicked. They dont seem to be nervous, they just go too fast and they dont allow everything to sort of settle in and kind of just run and get in each others way too much. So were just trying to get out of that and if we can have some clear cut certain plays youre supposed to be in certain spots and the same player is not going to be in those spots all the time and you just have to assume the role of that player in that spot when you happen to be there its just learning the game that way. Get the ball in the block, dont worry about passing, lets try to score. Weve already got the ball where we want it so dont give that up. Even if youre not a great scorer. A missed shot is not a bad thing; a turnover is. Just trying to get everyone to take ownership when theyre supposed to during the course of the game.
Q: Whats your sense of the city embracing this team?
A: We need a little over 100,000 people this summer to have a great season. I think when people come to watch the games, they are a group of people that like womens basketball. Theyre there for certain reasons, because of the fact that women are playing, theres young girls there, theres great role models out there working hard and doing a good job and excelling and being good athletes and all that stuff. Thats what were selling. Were selling a product thats geared toward people who enjoy this product, not trying to compare it to something else all the time. And I think theres 100,000 people in Chicago that will really enjoy this product. So if our success is based just on numbers, I think that we can create a good enough buzz that well get those 100,000 people over the course of the year.
Q: Thoughts on Chelsea Newton?
A: I really like her, and coach out there didnt want to lose her Shes very aggressive, shes fun to be around, she plays hard, shes not afraid, shes resilient, shes a great teammate. She shoots a little bit better than everyone told me she did, and I tell her to keep shooting. And when the lights came on in the game, she shot the ball, she missed one, got it back shot it again and she made it. To me thats wonderful, thats growth, and I want them to feel that way. Because I think theyre all capable, and Im not going to pigeonhole them and say well You cant shoot and You cant shoot. No, yall are going to shoot if youre open. She has embraced that and shes definitely one of our better players, no question about it. She hasnt been here through the training camp either, she was overseas. But when she came in, you could tell she had a real presence to her and everybody really likes her on the team, but everybody likes everybody on this team.
Opening Statement: Im really excited for the season. Were at such a different place than we were a year ago. We entered 2005 ... pretty much lost a lot of players, we lost two of our starters, our top perimeter sub off the bench, so we really almost were starting over last year. This year the complete opposite. We return our top six players, our starters, our top perimeter sub, and then also the acquisition of Wendy Palmer as a free agent post-player for us. So weve come right away with a lot more experience than we did a year ago. Training Camp has gone very well on the court in terms of Barbara Turner adjusting, Wendy Palmer adjusting, and Shaun Gortman a free agent that we picked up really helping us look pretty good. The downfall has been injuries. Lauren Jackson continues to struggle with a stress fracture in her shin. Janell Burse has been out for almost the entire training camp with a shoulder injury. So weve struggled to get flow with the group that we have but I have to say Im excited about the talent weve got and like every team in the WNBA, you have to stay healthy, and if we can do that, I think were going to be a very competitive team this year. With that I will open it up
Q: What does Wendy Palmer one of the seven original WNBA players bring to the team?
A: We knew at the end of last season that we needed to go after a veteran player. And the idea with a veteran player from a leadership standpoint to help Sue and Lauren with that role And then somebody who is hungry; and Wendy had fit the bill or she hadnt won a ring and was in the twilight of her career looking to get a ring, and to do anything it takes to get a ring. For us, we felt we had to get back to a little bit of that mentality and losing Bevilaqua and Vodichkova and Sheri Sam we lost a lot of that. So struggling through last year, which ended up being a very positive year for us, but still that was our missing piece, which Wendy brings to the table. So her intangibles I can go on and on about she brings us leadership, she brings us that desire, and then from a physical standpoint, she helps stretch the defense out and our post its really imperative that our post players can score from the outside and defenders cannot double-down on Jackson on the low post. Obviously Wendy [as] one of the premiere three-point shooters in the league fits that bill tremendously. So to Wendys credit, shes come in here and really done everything weve asked of her and more than we intended to ask of her. With Lauren and Janell both out, shes been playing much more minutes than we had intended, but I think when we get back to settling her into the role of our top post sub, were going to really have some good versatility in the post. So Im very very please; shes everything that we hoped shed be when we acquired her.
Q: What comes to mind when you think of the Leslie-Swoopes-Thompson trio?
A: What comes to mind is Olympians and championships, because theyve all won that. If I put on my USA basketball hat, I get very excited about those three players. Sitting here in Seattle, those are the kind of players were up against. The players that have been around like a Wendy whos and theyve all be successful in their careers. Youre trying to reach that, youre trying to get a little bit of what makes them tick. Extreme desire and passion for the game and for the ultimate prize, which is the championship.
A: Barbaras another subject we can speak all day on. We were really thrilled to acquire Barbara in the draft. What we saw from her at Connecticut is a very tough, hardcore player that has that gene its a relentless gene that I think Tamika Catchings had very few players in the game, where they just go after every possession. And I think Barbara has that. The biggest challenge for Barbara is transitioning from the 4 position into the perimeter, the 3 spot. She does so very well offensively. Defensively, we still have some work to do there, just to get her habits out of the paint. But shes done a very nice job for it. I expect her to be a great rookie in this league.
And in terms of other rookies of impact Seimone Augustus, fresh on my mind coming off a beating in Minnesota on Saturday. Just tremendous player, and I think those are the kind of college kids that are coming into the league these days. The top picks anyway. And they all come in with very little adjustment periods if necessary. Simone Augustus, in her first two exhibition games, scored almost 60 points combined and just does not look [un]comfortable and is not missing a beat in terms of what she gives to the Lynx on the floor. Shes certainly a tough player thats going to make a tremendous impact.
A: I think thats what sets Seimone Augustus a part is that shes going to have impact at both ends. Shes so versatile, shes such a great shooter, shes scoring in their system and then on her own. And defensively shes got her size 6-1 is a big perimeter player that can stick with speed and is also strong enough that she can play the post-up game. Simone is just a special player. A lot of the other picks in this league have specialties. Pondexter is a great point guard; Currie, I think, is a great offensive player. But Augustus is the one of that whole group of good rookies that just has it all. She has it at both ends of the floor.
Q: Do you need your team to player bigger because of the injuries and how hard can Lauren go at the present time?
A: Definitely with Wendy although the role we signed her in was a complementary role to Lauren or JB playing well with either one of them, and even toyed with the idea of moving her to the 3 spot at one point so I like her size. She plays so hard and shes so fundamental. And I think the older players are fundamental. Thats how they get it done, thats how they survived the league for ten years. So Wendy does shes been rebounding the ball so consistently for us. In Barbara, the same thing. We have avoided putting her into the post at all. Weve posted her up from a perimeter standpoint but weve avoided moving her back inside at all in any way, shape or form, but her size and her strength will help us. LJ shes been limited to practicing every other day for an hour. Her minutes in our exhibition games the Minnesota game she played it was a back-to-back for us, she didnt play in the one game, she played in the second game for 25 minutes. And so my commitment is that her minutes will come down from the 36 shes played for us to about 30. We hope that once the season starts to roll she will be able to play in back-to-back situations. Currently through training camp for the last six months she has not been playing on consecutive days. She is not in her ultimate groove, which only comes from repetition and being on the floor, but I have to say shes mighty good when shes out there.
Q: Youre one of three women coaches in this league. Why havent more women made the jump to the NBA?
A: Were aware of there are three female coaches in this league, so you can say that theres been awareness of it. I really hope that well cycle back. When this league started, we gave several women opportunities, and it seemed that those opportunities were not successful, and so the trends just flipped has gradually increased to the men coaching in the league. Id like to see that cycle come back. The thing is a little bit of a concern is what you talked about is that if women are not getting the opportunity to be assistant coaches then they arent getting the experience in the league at all, then itll make it even tougher for those hires to happen. I think its a fit. Theres definitely something to be said for somebody in the professional game coming from the NBA versus the college ranks to the WNBA. Theres a really specific fit for the professional ranks that not the greatest of college coaches make for a good fit here. But I would like to see the cycle spin back. I just think that number one -- the best person for the job I firmly believe that. The second thing to that is that there are a lot of great women coaches out there, and Id like to have that opportunity for us.
Q: What was your impression of Nicole Ohlde? Talk about your role as head coach of the U.S. Womens Senior National Team?
A: I think if I were around those potential U.S.A. players for a long period of time then it might be a concern. But Im with them for such a short period of time, I relish that time with the greatest players in the league, Nicole being one of them. Shes got tremendous footwork. Shes got such great feet, great right and left hand. Shes got a savviness about her game that belies her age. And that kid, shes going to be a great player in this league. Shes got the work ethic to back it up. I enjoyed the time with Nicole.
Q: What sets Leslie, Swoopes and Thompson apart?
A: More than anything, you walk into a practice, they rise to the top of every drill, of every practice. Ultimate competitors, ultimate professionalism, and just discipline. Its so clear of when you watch each practice, what players like Dawn and Sheryl and Lisa, they just are so above everybody else with their work ethic. And that to me sets them apart because preparation is the biggest part to being able to stay at top of this game. Youre best players in this country have it, Lauren Jackson has it so it separates the great from the good.
Q: What about Sheryl Swoopes game makes her so extraordinary?
A: Besides her work ethic, Sheryl, still at her age, to be able to pick passes off one of the best defenders. And again, go to her head, its not so much her speed any more, its just how smart she is as a player, her timing. She had struggled in the offseason with an injury to her knee and she came up to the National team and hadnt practiced in over a month and struggled through a couple of practices, trying to get her timing back. But when the lights came on and we put our uniforms on for the first competitive game, Sheryls leading the way and drilling it from the outside. So gamer shes a total gamer.
Q: And Lisa Leslie?
A: Leslie is one of the best back-to-the-basket players to ever play the game. She can dominate a game at both ends because of her strength shes got tremendous strength upper and lower body, which a lot of players of her stature dont have tremendous upper body strength but shes got both. And great feet, mobility in her feet that make her very difficult to defend. And then defensively, she can throw a shot into the third row and set the complete tempo for you defensively. So shes just dominating on both ends.
Q: Does lack of job security in the WNBA discourage women coaches from making the jump?
A: No question about that.
Q: Does that explain the ratio (of men to women)?
I dont think its impacting the ratio, I think that because theres so many women coaching the college ranks the women that are making a very significant salary in the college ranks are looking at salary comparisons and job security and all that theres a whole selection of tremendous women college coaches that might not the pool is too big to make that assumption.
Opening Statement: The Mystics will hopefully be very competitive in the league this year. Weve added some people to our team, weve added Latasha Byears, we added Crystal Robinson and Nikki Blue, my draft pick, and Tamra James, another draft pick. So weve added some defensive and some rebounding and some shooting. We made a trade and got Nikki Teasley at the point, so well have a big backcourt with Alayna Beard and Nicki Teasley. Get the defense from Crystal Robinson, moving DeLisha Milton back the four, her original position where shell feel more comfortable. And then we have Chasity Melvin at the center who played very well in the second-half of the season. Upfront well make a decision shortly on the backup centers which could Kaayla Chones or Nakia Sanford. The parity in the East is obvious. Last year we were one game short of making the playoffs we lost the tiebreaker to Detroit. I feel that Connecticut would probably be a favorite in most polls because theyve been in the finals three years in a row. They have a team thats been together and theyre led by some veteran players, especially Taj-McWilliams at center, and Asjha Jones and then Sales and Douglas, its a good group. And Detroit, with Katie Smith coming over at the end of the season, and Katie Smith along with Nolan and Swin Cash, whos coming off a ACL last year probably will be at 100%. Then up front theyre very very big with Ford and Riley and Braxton and Pierson. So I think you have to give the nod to those two teams. I think theres tremendous parity. I think everybody has a chance to make the playoffs in the East and then of course what happens after that will be determined by how well you play.
Q: Talk about Vickie Johnson?
A: Well I think number one shes a professional. She plays hard every night. She practices hard every day. Shes a fierce competitor, but a silent fierce competitor that coaches love because they dont brag about anything, they just go out and do it every night. She could play twos or threes defensively; will make the clutch shot and clutch threes when you need them. She also is a great foul shooter under pressure at the line at the end of the game. She is also a leader, but she grew into a leader because shes a quiet person as the years went by, but in my last year with her she stepped up and was more verbal. And of course people will listen to you in a leadership role if you give 110% every night, you play hard and you understand the game. Shes one of my favorite players, shes a player youre going to win a lot of games with because shes going to bring it every night and she has excellent basketball IQ.
Q: Talk about Crystal Robinson?
A: She was playing last year with a broken finger on her right hand. She was operated on at the end of the season so that is completely healed. She had no problems in Russia with that hand. She brings great defense, most underrated. So happy to have her because we had problems with threes last year so we know that will be solved this year. Still has a very quick release on the three point shot and still makes big threes and also is a veteran player who will give you leadership off the floor and will make the pressure foul shot at the end of the game.
Q: Talk about Teasley; talk about her and Beard in the backcourt together?
A: We know that shes been a three-point shooter that shoots a high percentage. Shes a pure point guard with a lot of size, bigger than most point guards in this league who has the ability to create for other people. Tremendous handle, excellent passer, sees the floor, so in transition hopefully were going to be able to get out and run and get much easier baskets than we have in the past.. What Im looking for is the big backcourt because were not going to be big upfront with what we start with with Alana Beard and Nikki Teasley in the backcourt were counting on them to rebound for us. Theyve got good size to get 4 or 5 rebounds for us and reel out and push the ball. When they team up, youre going to have an exciting tandem because of the passing ability of Teasley and the scoring ability of Beard, which I think will improve this year so were looking forward to that backcourt.
Q: (Inaudible) About Westheads fast break philosophy.
A: Well the system worked great as we know at Loyola Marymount where they averaged 110 a game and it took them a long way. And he believes in the system. Any time a coach believes in a system, the players will probably carry it out. I think its an exciting brand of basketball because it is resource, it is transition. I think its exciting for the fans because theyll push the ball, theyll shoot threes. I think it will work well in the WNBA. I think that there team has the ability to push the ball so I think hell do a lot for that franchise, hell bring a lot of excitement to Phoenix.
Opening Statement: My pleasure to start the season with the Mercury; were hopefully rounding into form. All of our players -- almost all of our players -- have arrived. Kamila Vodichkova arrived yesterday from the Czech Republic, so were going to try to get her into gear this week in preparation for our opener on Saturday. We had a couple of interesting exhibition games. Unfortunately, we didnt have the services of Kelly Miller or Dee Taurasi for two of those exhibitions. Its really hard to say how were going to step into the season but their injuries are mending and I think well be ready to go come Saturday in Sacramento. The players have worked very hard. Im pleased with their effort. Being new into the league, its really hard to have expectations beyond Lets find out what happens on Saturday and then well know what we know we need to do as we enter into the important season. But, Im happy. I like the effort of my team.
Q: What is Taurasis injury and how long could she be unavailable?
A: She came to camp about ten days after we started, practiced a couple of days and looked fine. And then she kind of pulled what theyre calling a high-thigh hip-flexor area muscle wasnt a result of a collision or anything and they just its her left leg they just kind of shut it down to kind of rest and get it cleared up. She hasnt practiced shes done some shooting with us but she hasnt practiced full tilt for about a week now. Its getting better and we have a few more days I anticipate shell be ready to go on Saturday.
Q: How long does it take teams to get your run-and-gun philosophy?
A: Well that varies from team to team. [Learning] what it is can be done in a couple of days. The actually physical adjustment of playing at that pace takes longer and the mental adjustment, as I have said in the past, can take a week, a month or a lifetime. You either get it and start playing that way or you say I dont think I can get it. I would say the players that I have for this training camp, theyre in the pursuit of it. They havent nailed it down yet, but theyre going in a forward direction rather than with the breaks on.
Q: Its not a gender thing, right?
A: I dont think at all. I think quickness has something to do with it. Its the willingness to do this over and over again it takes a certain type of player, yet all players can get involved and do it once they get in the groove.
Q: Why did you want to coach in the WNBA?
A: Just time and place. The opportunity came up. I was intrigued by the possibility of how my style of play would work in the womens game. I said theres only one way Im going to find out. And I still dont know the answer to that but its sure like an adventure for me and it will be for them. And its going to be something that really works and shakes things up or we may struggle with it. If it were that automatic, itd be a no- brainer and everyone might try it. Theres a high risk with this system Ive never coached women and I thought this would be a perfect chance to try it.
Q: Talk about Cappie Pondexter?
A: Cappie Pondexter has had a very good training camp and preseason exhibition series. I played her significant minutes probably more than I anticipated entering into the preseason games, thought Id ease her in. But with the absence of Taurasi playing in the exhibition, I started Cappie in both our games and shes played very well. I would say particularly of note is late in games when you need somebody to step up and come off a screen, make a shot or create their own shot, shes done it three or four times already and hasnt even blinked, [like] This is what I do. I couldnt be happier. I think she still has a high learning curve just adjusting to the professional game, to older, stronger, more experienced opponents. I think her offensive game shell adjust to that. Its not like shes going to have a long learning curve. I think shes going to be ready to go really quickly.
Q: How does this team compare to others that youve coached?
A: Its hard to tell, because the teams that Ive coached in this running game you never know preseason and sometimes 2-3-4 maybe 5 games into the regular season. And then right about game 4 or 5 its beginning to click or its not. So theres that little benchmark around game 4 or 5. If were not showing the great running skills in the first game or two or three, I wouldnt be overly concerned Id be happy if we did it in the first three minutes it takes a while for them to get their game speed down and you can practice forever, but you have to get into the habit during games.
Opening Statement: Our last preseason game is tonight in Houston looking forward to getting up and done. Things are going pretty well for us in training camp. Weve avoided the injury bug which is a big positive for us or any team going into training camp. Weve had our normal bumps and bruises, but for the most part were healthy and ready to go. Were still waiting on a player or two ... but other than that, I like our team. But it doesnt matter if I like them or not, its up to the players and we talked to them a lot about that this year. This is the year the players have to stand up and they like their team and each other, the chemistry is outstanding. But its still up to them and they know it and theyre going to do all the talking this year.
Q: Is Swin Cash back at one hundred percent?
A: Her speed is back, her endurance is back, more importantly her state of mind is back which is a big positive there will be days where youll always have a little bit of soreness, but the soreness is not interfered in any way shape or form with how she plays on the basketball court. She really is anxious to get going. Shes basically gone a whole, year and a half without playing really competitive basketball at her level. Quite frankly, shes ready to go. She wants to play real games that really matter.
Q: Talk about interior players that speak to your style and importance of Katie Smith?
A: When we first set this team up a few years ago, it was set up for playoff basketball rebounding, interior baskets, getting the other team in foul trouble, and were no different than we were then. The changes from where we won the championship to last couple of years has been on the perimeter . And also the trade for Katie Smith last year was for two things: one, to eleviate some of the pressure off our interior by having the three-ball threat. And second, to add another veteran because we still were young then, someone that can settle us down and not turn the ball over.
Q: Is Ford the best rebounder in womens basketball right now?
A: Oh absolutely she might be the best rebounder right now. You know, Lisa Leslie shes got a couple of years on her Cheryls coming into her time right now, her timing and rebounding is wonderful. But I think youre going to see a little bit more Cheryl Ford this year, especially on offense. Were watching her in practice and having her translate that into the games situations so far this year. Her confidence in scoring and taking the ball to the basket, you can see a different woman this year and its been a great transition to watch.
Q: Talk about the evolution of the game?
A: The Shock came in with a different style of play and we opened up a lot of eyes that there are different ways to get the job done. The draft has added good players and sound players to the league plus the teams have taken more of a business approach to how they build their ballclubs.
Q: Where would you say the game is chronologically (60s)?
A: From a league perspective, you are correct. From an on court, Id equate it to the early 80s, where you have this transition to a higher-paced basketball, talented and marquee players coming out of college. The depth of these teams right now is at its peak. Its very very difficult to get a roster spot in this league.
Q: What has the WNBA done for high school and college athletics?
A: Oh magnificent job. Before I got promoted to the WNBA, I was coaching girls AAU checked out at 14s. You can see it there, the growth, the explosion part of it is Title IX .. the other part of it is the WNBA has a foothold in the United States... They can point to something that has really created a single focus sport in the younger ranks.
Opening Statement: Anxious to get the season started on Saturday. I guess we have a little bit of a target on our back, but according to the experts were not going to win again, so thats good by me, I like that one. Its been interesting training camp in that weve probably brought in few more younger players than we have the last couple of years to take a look at some and maybe try to change our bench a little bit. Our veterans is an established, experienced group. I think that theyre going to carry the load for our team if its possible. I think were a better team than we were last year. Its going to be very hard to duplicate the record we had last year. The league keeps getting better every year, but were happy with where we are with our team, the progress has been good and were just kind of anxious to get going.
Q: How did you feel when the league started (skeptical?)
A: I dont think I was ever skeptical, I just think that there was not a problem with having talent, there was never a problem with having good basketball teams on the court. The biggest problem when you have start-up leagues is whether the people involved in the league and the people outside the league have the patience to give it a chance. And I think thats the biggest thing. You know, people forget they talk about attendance at 8 or 9,000 it took the NBA 20 years to reach that number. I think that what we see now arriving at ten years is that if you let something grow and nurture it, keep doing things the right way, it will continue to get better the talent level each year gets better in our league. I think I mentioned a year ago that I used to think a generation of players as far as improvement and level of play probably was every 6 or 7 years. Right now in our league I see them every 2-3 years. We have so many good young players coming in our league ready to make an impact in the league that it shows you how much the game is improving. The size, the athleticism, the speed all gets better on a constant basis so Im optimistic with where everythings headed.
Q: Talk about generational gap players closer together in years, know each others games better ?
A: I think thats true. You have each draft over the last 3-4 years all these kids have played against each other or with each other even, with USA teams or all-star teams. So I think the confidence level. I even saw it with the USA basketball group Candace Parker, Augustus, Pondexter theyre mixed in with veteran pro players and theres not as big a gap as there used to be. Theyre more ready mentally and physically to step up and start playing with them.
Q: Lindsay Whalens healthy?
A: Big progress the last ten days or so. She started practicing last week, she has been able to go through five straight 5-on-5 practices. Im a little more confident she can play this weekend in our opening game. If you would have asked me that 3-4 weeks ago, I was not that confident. Well see how the next couple of days go. Shes been able to get knocked down, get up and realize that she can take that bumping and hitting and be ok with it. Shes not at 100% speed yet, but shes getting closer every day, so theres been a lot of progress over the last week.
Opening Statement: Were really excited about celebrating our tenth anniversary; were really looking forward to it in Houston. I was doubly looking forward to it to about 5 days ago. I dont believe Ive ever seen a team... thats just snakebit with injuries when we get all our players healthy, I really like this team. I like its attitude
Q: Comment on your personal 10-year anniversary .
A: In 1997 I moved to Houston, Texas never dreaming this league would last ten years, and its been the best 10 years of my life. Its been a wonderful experience; everything about it but this league has been everything I ever dreamed it would be and much much more. The players are better so what a wonderful time.
Q: Three significant changes to the WNBA?
A: I think the first major change since I came into the league is the talent level. The players can just do so many things and theyre better, theyre taller theyre quicker .. the game has improved overall. I still think that another thing that has changed in the league is coaching. I think the coaching has gotten much better, there are people out of the NBA, the college game so when you think about that our fans knowledge of how we play and why were playing and whatnot has greatly improved, so all of those things add pluses to our league.
Q: Talk about the lack of female coaches in the WNBA?
A: When I started, I didnt count how many female and male coaches there were. When I ended, I didnt count. I dont get up and think about it.
Q: Has the improvement come from more talent or more players knowing how to play the game?
A: Both of them. When we got the ABL players in here, the explosion of talent went crazy. First of all, our players now understand the game, they watch the game players watch the game, they study the game, and now youve got players 6-2 or 3 that can do a lot of different things.
Q: Whats the best thing about the womens game?
A: They play it for the pure love of the game. We dont make $15 million a year. Were out there playing because we love it, we want to excel youve got those purists and theyre a lot of fun to coach.
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