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Storm Q&A: Heidi VanDerveer (Page 2)

How would you describe your overall coaching philosophy?
I think it would probably be in line with Anne and Jessie: Work really hard, execute - you have to be able to execute in this league - you have to have people that play together. I think that part of my personality is very inclusive and very positive and I know in the season things get rough and you have to be able to handle adversity. Your character has to be consistent, like your team has to be consistent. I think that those qualities may be the things that are some of my strengths and will help when things are rough. Hopefully they won't be too rough, but they always are. Every team, no matter if you win a championship or you're in the playoffs or you don't make the playoffs, there are stretches that are rough going. Just being very positive and not being afraid of a challenge and understanding the league, those things will help, hopefully, overall offensively and defensively ... and rebounding. We need to rebound.


"I think my philosophy would probably be in line with Anne and Jessie: Work really hard, execute, you have to have people that play together."
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
What coaches have had the most impact on that philosophy?
Fortunately and unfortunately, you've got to be your own person. You're always going to be your own person and your own personality. My sister at Stanford has really taught me that and given me great insight just into the game in general and given me great opportunities, whether it was working with some of her USA Basketball teams or watching Stanford practice and play every day, sharing when I went to be a coach in the WNBA as a head coach, talking to me when I was young about being my own person and my own personality; don't try to change. She's been the biggest factor.

Brian Agler, who is an assistant with the San Antonio Silver Stars. I worked with him for four years in Minnesota and he is still one of my best friends. Brian has a great basketball mind and sees things develop and loves to talk. He's a basketball junky, as I am. It was fun to be around him for league, talking, whether it's players or offensive systems and styles and defensive schemes. He had a tremendous impact and influence on the way I look at the game and watch the game. Then when I was in graduate school I worked at the University of Tennessee for Pat Summitt. You're 22, 23, 24 years old and you're very influential and the fairness and the consistency that she has always exhibited with her teams and her individuals, her competitiveness, just maybe some of the intangibles that are important to success I got from her.

Then there are other people. Nancy Darsch, who was at New York and Washington and Minnesota. Julie Plank, who's a really good friend of mine. You always have really good friends in coaching whom you can share a lot with. I'd include them. Then watching, scouting. I've scouted every team in the league a zillion times. I think you always learn a lot from watching someone else's team in a different capacity. I scouted for different teams in the league, so I had a chance to watch Connecticut or watch Sacramento or watch L.A. and see how they approach the game and the gampelan. But really, Tara, Pat and Brian, for sure, to make a long story short.

How does having a sister who is going through similar, if slightly different, experiences, make things easier for both of you?
Unless you're in that situation, where you're in the same profession as someone you are as close to as I am to Tara, I don't think you can have an appreciation for it. Tara's 10 years older than I am; she'd say she changed my diapers. We live three blocks away. We have dinner two, three nights a week. I get to sit in on her meetings. I think I can provide her a different insight, because Stanford's not my team, than maybe the people who are working for her do. She does the same. She can watch our team, whether it was at Minnesota or in Sacramento, differently than people right in the fire. It's a different perspective. I think you're close enough to know the good things she says are great and the things that are maybe critical are because she doesn't want me unemployed - I can't say the same about her, because I don't think she'll ever be unemployed. She's saying those things for the betterment of me or our team.

How does your experience as a WNBA head coach make you a better assistant?
Every assistant has all the answers until they slide 12 inches to the left or right. Unless you've been the head coach, you can't appreciate the pressure that a head coach is under. You can't imagine the amount of decisions they have to make. It's easy as an assistant to have the answers, but head coaches have the final decision on so many things. You can't appreciate that. I think having been a head coach in different situations, I have an appreciation for what Anne is going through. Also, having a sister that has coached in the Olympics, I have an appreciation for what Anne is going through. I think that being an assistant with head-coaching experience, I have a perspective that's different than a lot of people. I have an appreciation of how hard it is. Then, when you're a head coach, you always say, 'I wish my assistants would do this.' I can fill in a lot of the blanks. I'm not afraid of work, I think I have good initiative, so I think those are things I can help Anne with. I know Jessie does a great job; we can complement Anne well and have a unified front as a coaching staff. That's important. That's important in any game, but especially in the pro game.

As an outsider, what is your take on the Storm's talent and what it will take to get back to the championship level of 2004?
I would say every championship team has to have great chemistry. I would say that, with very few exceptions; I don't know of any exceptions. I think there's a great core of talent with Sue, Lauren and Betty. There's some good young players - JB's still young and finding her way. Tanisha, Izi (Castro Marques), (Suzy) Batkovic. I'm just trying to think of people who complement - you hate to say 'the big three,' but you need Sue, Lauren and Betty doing what they do best and then you need complementary players, like in 2004, (Kamila) Vodichkova, who complemented those three great. JB was on that team and now she might be playing a different role but it doesn't mean that it's any less important. She might be more important now.

I think it's just maturity. Sue, Betty and Lauren have matured, and now it's just trying to put some complementing pieces that understand that what they do is really important to the success of the team. Again, that's maybe chemistry. That's people understanding the bigger picture and I think part of coaching, especially at this level, is having them understand the bigger picture. That's not easy day-by-day.