Bo Overton Q&A

Not many expected the Chicago Sky to be playing meaningful games in August, but here they are in the final week of the season, fighting it out with Washington and New York for the East's final playoff bid. Much of the credit for the Sky's improvement has to be given to first-year head coach Bo Overton, who has transformed a team that won just five total games the previous season into a formidable opponent that can win on any given night.

In 2007, Bo Overton has more than doubled
the Sky's win total from its inaugural season of 2006.

Warren Skalski/NBAE/Getty Images
While the Sky are now a long shot to reach the postseason thanks to a late season slide, it's obvious Overton and his staff have found the right formula for their mix of talented players. As a result, the second-year franchise is way ahead of schedule and could find itself among the East's elite sooner rather than later.

WNBA.com's Mark Bodenrader talked with Overton about the team's turnaround, competing for the last playoff spot and what he'll take from his first season on the job.

Q: The Sky have lost five straight, but you're still mathematically alive for the final playoff spot in the East. What have you been doing to get the team to think positively, or have they been a motivated bunch?
OVERTON: “They’ve been great. We’ve made sure they know exactly where they stand. If you talk about our five-game losing streak, I think you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the teams we’ve played during the streak. The way Connecticut played the other night, Detroit, our game at Washington… all these games basically except for the other day came right down to the wire. We lost a double-overtime game to Indiana last week. Our guys have fought all the way to the end and still know that they are mathematically in it, with two games left to play against New York and one with Houston. They’ll fight all the way to the last minute.”

Q: You’re battling New York and Washington for the final spot and you play the Liberty twice in your last three regular season games. So what's the team's approach entering the final week of action?
OVERTON: “We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared. The good thing is that we’re playing New York twice so with them everything is kind of in our own hands. We’re going to need a little help with Washington. When you look at it and you see right in front of you what you have to do it makes it a lot easier for them to focus.”

Q: Did you expect the East to be so competitive this year?
OVERTON: “All these teams are good. As you go through the year and look at teams that have gotten hot at certain times and beaten some really good teams, you have to be ready to play every game. Because of that, this year is going to help our team a lot in terms of getting a little experience. We came all the way to August with a chance to play for something and that was one of our goals when we started. It proved out right. We got to that point and right now we’re sitting here still in this thing.”

Q: If you don't end up making the playoffs, do you still consider the 2007 season a success for Chicago?
OVERTON: “I think the success you look at is how we competed, how we were literally in every game. To get to August and have a chance to make the playoffs and to beat some of the really fine teams we’ve beaten is great for us. Sure, we’ll be disappointed if we’re not in the playoffs because we have a team that’s talented enough to do it. But at the same time, I’m just really proud of the way they fought and played. It’s not an easy thing to win in this league. You’ve got to not only have great players, but there’s got to be something special about them. And that’s what this league is full of.”

Q: Seems like the Sky were in most of the games they played this year, so what do you guys need to do to get over that hump and start closing out more games?
OVERTON: “The fact that we were in those games like that, to have the experience of being in them, is really going to help us as we get to next year. We’re really going to try to keep the core of this team together and bring them back, and add a couple of pieces to get us better. But the experience of going through it and seeing it face-to-face is really going to help us as we come back next year.”

Q: What players have made the biggest strides for you from the start of the season to the end?
OVERTON: “I think you can go one through 13 with our team. The way Candice (Dupree) came from her rookie year to her second year, I thought she had a great year. There’s the improvement of Stacey Dales, the improvement of Jia Perkins with us being able to get her off the ball a little bit more. Then there’s our rookie Armintie Price… You just go down the line. You can say the same things about Dominique Canty and Chasity Melvin – the new veterans we brought in – and how they’ve had to fit in so quickly. There’s the play of Brooke Wyckoff off the bench…. Just go down the line. I’m real happy with our bunch.”

Q: What are your thoughts about being mentioned as a possible Coach of the Year candidate?
OVERTON: “Well, to be honest with you I really don’t think about it. But I also know how this stuff works – you’ve got to win games. I’m very flattered that they would think that. Five or six games ago it was probably a little bit more realistic than it would be now. But for us to come from where we’ve come from, it’s very flattering for people to say that. All coaches’ awards like that are a direct reflection on our team and how they’ve played, and I really appreciate them for that.”

Q: What one moment stands out the most to you so far during your first season as coach of the Sky?
OVERTON: “(Pause) There were so many. Maybe our win at Detroit and how well we played against a very good team. No doubt the game we played at Sacramento, the double-overtime win where Jia had 39 points and being able to be a part of that. It was not only just Jia, but everybody else. We really played well that game. It’s like going back to college. When you win road games like that, you’re basically 13-15 people against 10,000. Those are some of the coolest things that we’ll bring back from this year, what it was like to do that and be able to walk in the locker room and see those players’ faces, and hang out in the airport with them coming home and things like that after a big win like that. Those are the kinds of things that stick with you.”