Coach Hughes Q&A

Coachís Corner: Dan Hughes Updates Us On All Things Stars

San Antonio Stars General Manager and Head Coach, Dan Hughes, recently sat down with SAStars.com to reflect on the 2013 season as well as chat about the WNBA offseason so far, the upcoming WNBA draft, and the progress of his players. Check out the Q&A below to see the latest from Coach Hughes.

Q: What does your schedule mostly consist of during these first few months of the WNBA offseason?

Dan Hughes: It varies a little bit from year to year. I think the first thing you do is try to reflect on the past season when you have a little bit of time to separate and tie it together in your mind both individually and collectively. You take a look at everything that is apart of the Stars. Once that is formulated, at least this year, its about evaluating players and performances. We didnít know where we were going to pick in the draft for a while. It consists of a lot of tape watching and then following through with in-person evaluation to follow it up. This year itís really been about rehab and making sure we are in contact with the injured players and following up with them.

Q: What are your thoughts on the upcoming 2014 WNBA draft and the fact that the Stars have the third overall pick?

DH: We were happy to move up a little bit in the draft. That obviously was pleasing to us. It gives us a little bit better positions in the whole thing and itís a draft that is going to be a good draft for us. Thereís a lot of work to do and we are already dong a lot of work towards it because itís the first lottery pick weíve had in the last seven years. Basically, the last lottery pick we had we traded for Becky Hammon. It puts you in a position that calls upon us to do some early work and understand the class a bit better.

Q: What are your thoughts on this yearís draft class? Noticing any trends?

DH: I think there is a diversity of picks. I think even at our pick, we need to be able to say that our pick might be a guard, it might be a forward, and it might be a center. Itís not like this is a great guard class or a great forward class. This class has quality, but it is spread out. Itís not like last year where the focus was spent on three players. There is a little more equity. You might be able to project the first pick, but I donít know if you can project the second or third pick. I think there still work to be done to decide who that is.

Q: How have the players progressed so far in the offseason?

DH: So far the offseason has been really good. The players that are here and rehabbing have been successful and taking care of business. The players overseas have seemed to be healthy and doing well. Both things are fairly important to a GM. A lot of these young players that got experience for us last year seem to be continuing that growth overseas from what I see.

Q: What was the biggest surprise to you of the 2013 WNBA season?

DH: I think anybody that really followed us last year would see that the fact was we had four season-ending injuries to three potential All-Stars. But in the face of that I was surprised at the player development that took place with a lot of players. It could have been something really difficult on the remaining players to deal with the situation. Obviously we didnít win the number of games that weíre used to, but I donít think there is any doubt that players got better, and they made use of the opportunity to develop confidence in this league. Thatís the reflection I have on the process. A number of them stepped up in ways that were real. Had we sustained one or two less injuries, we could have very well been a playoff team in the face of those situations and thatís because there was player development going on. I really liked the player development aspect oft the season, but Iím sorry we just couldnít keep some of them on the court.

Q: Does it excite you that the players who developed during last season will now blend on the court with the players returning from injury in 2014?

DH: You didnít want 2013 to be a lost year. That was the message the whole way. If we get into the playoffs then great, but lets develop as a team and as players, and lets get something out of it, because when youíre in the face of that, its hard. You have to readjust your goals a bit in that regard. If I had to point to a positive aspect of the adversity we felt, it would be that some of those players got more time on the court and got better, and now youíre going to mix them back in to a situation that creates depth and advancement.

Q: What are you most excited about regarding the upcoming WNBA season?

DH: I am most excited about being able to return to the chemistry that putting these players together can create. One of the things that I think we enjoy here is depth with our team. When you sustain the injuries we did last year, your depth is challenged. Its fun for me to have healthy competition and healthy depth at certain positions, and then let that play out during the course of the season. It will be nice to have some of our leaders back on the court. A lot of the leadership was sitting next to me instead of on the court last season, so that will be fun to see.