Jia Perkins Q&A

Chicago's June 26 loss at Seattle can be regarded as the day Jia Perkins' 2007 season received a kick-start. That's when Perkins, with Dominique Canty sidelined by an injury, returned to her 2006 role of starting point guard and put up 19 points and seven rebounds. She followed that up with another start and posted a career-high 39 points and a game-high 10 assists in Chicago's double-overtime win at Sacramento three nights later.

Jia Perkins is in her second year with the Sky
and playing in her fourth WNBA season overall.

Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
While Perkins has sinced returned to reserve status with Canty back healthy, she has made it nearly impossible for Coach Bo Overton to give her a lesser role. Over the last 10 games, Perkins has averaged 19 points and led the team in scoring in seven of the contests, including the last five.

WNBA.com's Mark Bodenrader talked with Perkins about her mid-season resurgence and what lies ahead for her and the playoff-minded Sky.

Q: First off, I want to go back to when you poured in a career-high 39 points in the double-overtime victory in Sacramento on June 29. What was going through your mind when the points started to pile up?
PERKINS: “I wasn’t really thinking about the points actually because the game was so close. I wasn’t thinking about me scoring even though I did feel like I was scoring a lot. I didn’t exactly know how many (points). But I can remember looking up at the start of the fourth quarter and seeing that I had 22 points. I was just ready to get out there and help the team win, and I was hot so I just kept shooting it.”

Q: Was that a game where you just wanted to put the team on your shoulders and say, "I'm going to win this for us" because the victory was so crucial?
PERKINS: “Well, I think so. I think whoever has the hot hand, that’s who the team should go to. That night it was me. I think whenever your number’s called, then you should be able to do so.”

Q: A lot of people might not realize you shot pretty well from the floor in that game and also had a team-high 10 assists.
PERKINS: “It was just a team effort. Whoever was open was going to get the ball regardless. If I wasn’t open and they came on me, I would find a teammate to dish it to.”

Q: You've lead the team in scoring five times since then -- all while coming off the bench. Are you hoping to play your way into a regular starting spot like you had last season, or do you prefer coming off the bench?
PERKINS: “It’s hard for a coach to change up the lineup in the middle of a season. I don’t know if (Coach Bo Overton) will do that. But I’m not looking to take anybody’s spot on the team. I’m just going to keep doing whatever the coach says. If he calls on me to start, then, of course, I’ll do so, but if not, I’m just gonna keep coming off the bench and do what I’ve been doing.”

Q: What's changed from earlier in the season to now allow you to be more productive?
PERKINS: “Well, with the West Coast games I had to step up and start, so I actually got some minutes and got into the flow of the game. I was just able to get into a rhythm. I think the West Coast trip has helped me carry that on with the rest of these games.”

Q: With all the additions this team made during the offseason and even during this season where do you see your role now with the team?
PERKINS: “We brought in some veteran leadership with Dominique and Chas (Chasity Melvin). Of course, Candice (Dupree) is our franchise player. I just do whatever the team needs. I come off the bench and need to provide scoring right now for the guards. Me and Stacey (Dales), Dominique and AP (Armintie Price) and everybody else on the team, we’re going to have to score and defend. That’s what I like to do. I can provide a spark out there by getting some stops and putting some shots up.”

Q: What's the dynamic like with this year's team compared to last year's?
PERKINS: “We have a better all-around game. We have an inside presence. We have a point guard (Canty). Last year it was my first year playing point guard and I wasn’t very experienced at it. So now we have an experienced point guard and that’s one of the most important positions on the court. Now we have that leader, that general.”

Q: What are your thoughts on first-year coach Bo Overton?
PERKINS: “He knows a lot about the women’s game. He’s given us some great plays to run. I think his plays have made a difference. When (former coach Dave Cowens) was here it was more like the NBA, where you just give one person the ball and just do pick-and-rolls. So I think Coach Overton has really come up with some nice plays for us.”

Q: The Sky have a tough schedule coming out of the break. You’ve played Indiana and San Antonio and have Detroit and Phoenix upcoming. Is this a make-or-break stretch for the Sky if you have hopes of making the playoffs?
PERKINS: “Definitely. We’re definitely going to have to find a way to win. We can’t complain about how tough our schedule is because everybody’s schedule is tough. We’ve just got to find a way.”

Q: The Sky seem to have trouble closing out games. Why is that?
PERKINS: “That’s a great question (laughs). I really can’t tell you what it is. I think sometimes when we get the lead maybe we start relaxing. That’s something that we have to fix early now. It’s just about fighting and hustling and playing hard throughout the whole time and not getting comfortable.”