Start of Season Conference
Call With WNBA Players
Players participating: Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Becky Hammon and Diana Taurasi
On playing overseas:
Diana Taurasi: Initially, you never want to leave home, but after being there for two years, I enjoy it. I look forward to going overseas and playing. This year I had a really good experience and team. I look forward to it. It's a change of pace, a different lifestyle, a different game. You get to experience a lot of different places and people. I'm to a point where I enjoy it, I really do like it.
On how long it takes to get up to speed:
Here, probably around three weeks so I will probably hit stride around no, I'm joking. I'll be fine. In two days, I'm fine. There's a lot of pulled hamstrings in camp, so I'm hoping I'm not the next victim.
On the offseason and missing Taj McWilliams-Franklin on the Sun roster:
Katie Douglas: My overseas experience was consistent with how it's been over the past three seasons. I was with my same team in Lithuania. We had a decent campaign this year I guess. We didn't make it to the Final Four but we did some good things. For me personally it was overall a good season. Obviously we traded away TJ and got a young player in Erika DeSouza, who is a very big and very powerful post player. Obviously losing TJ will be a tough loss but at the same time we brought in Kristen Rasmussen and Erika to fill in the gaps. Coach asked about several players to bring in but not one person could really do everything that TJ did. Obviously, we are excited about what we are hoping to accomplish by committee. We are hoping to get back to the WNBA Finals again.
On the Eastern Conference being so strong in 2007:
My health is fine. Dr. David Porter in Indianapolis did my surgery in October with my foot. The injury in the playoffs was unfortunate, devastating and frustrating, all those words to explain the situation. He was able to fix my foot really quickly and it was a speedy recovery. I feel really good. The East being dominant is a change. I don't want to put too much emphasis on it, though, because the West definitely has a lot of great teams out there. A lot of great players too, like Taurasi scoring 50, 60 points which makes it tough sometimes. Obviously, the Fever did a lot of tinkering with their lineup so everybody is talking about their roster. We are conscientious about that and the championship in the East goes through Detroit. Obviously, I think Connecticut and Indiana both respect that and we just have to work toward getting back to that level.
On the Indiana Fever being the hot team:
Tamika Catchings: We are definitely excited about this season and the additions that we've made. I think the biggest thing is that Indiana has always been a small team as far as post payers go. Picking up Tammy Sutton-Brown and Alison Bales will help us down low in the post. And then picking up Sheri Sam and Ann Strother as guards Our rookie Jessica Dickson is doing really well. I think as a whole we are all excited to go into this season and being one of the teams that everyone is talking about. It's one of the first times we've gotten the positive remarks for the additions we've made in the offseason.
On the size with the new post players:
I think we had big expectation for our posts We've struggled on offense and defense trying to guard the bigger posts in the league. As Katie said, the championship goes through Detroit and they have powered over us in the past down low. Tammy comes to our team as a veteran in this league, she's been an all-star. There are expectations for her to come in and lead the way down low and she is up to the challenge. Alison, as a rookie, there are expectations for her as well. Watching her she still ahs a lot of work to do, but this is the right team for her to learn and grow and get better and be one of the best posts in the league.
On playing overseas:
I went back to Korea. It was my fourth year over in Korea with the same team, with some same teammates. It's become like a second team. My coach is phenomenal and I feel like I learn a lot.
On Mercury style of play:
Diana Taurasi: Coming back and being more comfortable with the system is always a good thing. We are still waiting for everyone to get back. Cappie is still in Turkey and Penny is still, I think, on vacation in Hawaii. Things will fall back into place. I talked to coach today and he is ready to start the season, more comfortable with his players and just the women's game in general. It was his first experience last year, but we are all excited to get the season going. Anyone's philosophy on basketball takes some time to get used to, but when you finally believe in it you start seeing results. I think this year we are going to have a different mindset going in. in the past our Achilles has been starting the season slow and working out of a hole. Hopefully this year we can change that up a little.
On Tangela Smith joining the Mercury:
Diana Taurasi: Today was the first time that I was on the court with Tan and she is so versatile. That's the first thing that popped out. She can run the floor and that's something that Coach was really excited about, she can shoot the three, get on the post. I think it's going to be a really great fit and I think she is going to have a really great year for us. That's something that we need.
On playing for the first WNBA franchise that wasn't owned by a NBA Team:
Katie Douglas: We still talk about it and laugh about it now, our first year. Connecticut was acquired from Orlando just three months before the start of the season and players started arriving. You can imagine what kind of a mess it was our first year as things just weren't in place. Our first year was a little bit of a cluster b/c we didn't have an NBA model to learn from. It was a little frustrating at times, but Connecticut and the Mohegan Sun made the best of everything and definitely treated us first-class when things weren't as we were accustomed to. As for the Sparks being sold to new entrepreneurs, I think it is good for the League. Obviously it means there are people investing in it and people think of the league and its teams as a valuable commodity. You can only take positive things from that. The Buss family did such great things for the Sparks and now someone new wants to step up to the plate and that's tremendous.
On new uniforms:
Tamika Catchings: Personally, I like our new uniforms here in Indiana with the new design. Of course there will always be some complaints about fit because everybody's body is different. For me, I don't like the top part of the uniforms as much because my arms are a little more muscular than some people's are That would be the only downfall for me.
Diana Taurasi: I like the tuck-in and I think they look a lot more professional. It feels good when you put them on. The last couple years, wearing the giant bib was a turn off. I think we've made strides this year.
Katie Douglas: I can only echo what my peers are saying. I think going back to the tuck- in is better looking and people are accustomed to seeing both men and women wearing that look. I think here in Connecticut the design could've been maybe a little bit better, but everybody is going to have something to say because every woman has different flaws or disadvantages or advantages.
On where each player is, as young stars of the league, in their own career:
Diana Taurasi: Four years into the league, still excited. Being old, I still feel like a rookie coming into training camp. I guess that's a good thing that you still have that energy. As far as my career, I would've expected to play at least one playoff game by now, but it hasn't happened and hopefully this year we can turn the corner. In five years, just keep turning.
Katie Douglas: I feel fortunate and blessed. It's great that we have an opportunity to play here in America and showcase our talents. I've been with the same franchise all my career. I just turned 28 the other day, so I feel old and am getting up there. It's great to be in this organization. The Sun would like to get a ring. Everyone talks about us getting a ring but we never get one. That's where we are and where I'm going. I just take it year by year, that's my philosophy.
Tamika Catchings: I feel the same way. It's a great opportunity to stay here in America and play, surrounding by my peers and family. With the Fever, I would love to win a championship too. That's something we are shooting for this year and next year and the years to come. In five or six years, I just hope to still be able to play. I love coming out and every year I feel like a rookie. Love playing with different people and each Fever team has been different. You come in wanting to play and having high expectations. That will be the same for me in five or six years.
On Becky Hammon's move from N.Y. to S.A.:
Becky Hammon: It's been really smooth actually. I got back and was able to take some time and get adjusted Really excited to be down here. We've got a great group of girls. It's a little bit of a transition. Today, I woke up with a scorpion on my bed one day. Other than that, the transition's been very good.
On the Silver Stars roster:
Becky Hammon: We are really excited about the team we have down here. Coach Hughes and his staff did a great job of picking up some pieces and bringing it all together. Obviously a championship is something we would love to have here in San Antonio and it's the ultimate goal. Every day we come in and we work with that in mind. Marie is looking good, coming off having a baby. She is in great shape. Ruth is the epitome of a team player, a great teammate on the court and off the floor. She makes up for a lot of mistakes out there, especially on the defensive end. I'm really excited to be back with her as I've played with her in the offseason a few times. Sophia Young has tremendous upside. She's looking to have an even stronger year this year than she did last year. We are looking to get big things out of her. Being back with VJ (Vickie Johnson), I'm excited about that. There's chemistry and a history with most of these players and it's neat how it all comes back. Another player is Erin Buescher that we added. I'm real happy about her. She's a lot better when I see her day to day, she's even better than I thought she would be. I thought she was good, but she's even better. I think she's going to help a lot. We feel like we are solid at every position and we feel like we have solid back ups who will provide a great bench for us too.
On Lynx roster and new players/coach:
Seimone Augustus: So far, so good as far as training camp goes. You could tell that they were a little bit timid as far as getting into the roles they will play on this team. Lindsey (Harding) came in confident and what she will need to do to help this team. Its' other players like Noelle Quinn, who was scorer coming out of UCLA. She was kind of shy about shooting the ball but now she's getting into her comfort zone and I think as far as chemistry goes, I think Coach Z has done a wonderful job of keeping us focused on what we need to accomplish this year - to win games and stay competitive. Like I said, so far, so good Everybody's been playing hard and trying to get better as individuals and as a team.
On hearing about being traded from the New York Liberty:
Becky Hammon: Well, I was at practice and Shemeka Christon was there when I found out. She was obviously the first person I talked to when we heard about the trade on draft day. All my teammates called, most of them, disappointed or upset. You develop a friendship or loyalty as teammates and everyone wanted to send in their condolences or best wishes. It's an adjustment, change. Change isn't always easy but I just encouraged them to go about their business and do their jobs as best they can. I'm going to go about my life and my new opportunity in San Antonio and make the best of it. We got together but what was said I think I'll just keep between us as players. We had a going away party and quite a few of them came and spent some time and laughed. I told them I'd see them in June.