20, 2006 - Actually talking to Connecticut Sun forward
is a little bit of a challenge these days. That is because the All-Star is currently
playing in Korea, half a world away (more like 15 hours ahead). But because South
Korea sounds so very different, we emailed her a bunch of questions and let her
answer them on her own. No surprise, but we were still able to find out some cool
Taj is no stranger to overseas travel (she has
been to Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany,
Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands,
Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey,
Ukraine, Vatican City and Yugoslavia to either visit or play), but as a member
of the Ansan Shinhan Bank S-Birds, the veteran forward is making her first extended
visit to Korea. Her husband is currently serving in the military and is either
on the verge of being deployed to Iraq or is already on his way to the Gulf region.
About... South Korea
47,904,370 (July 2001 census.)
widely taught in junior high and high school
99.3% male, 96.7% female (1995 est.)
49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly
Way), and other 1%
the rest of her family back in the States, one of the advantages to playing in
Korea is the short season, which lasts from January to February (playoffs go into
March). That is why other stars like Washington's Alana Beard and Indiana's Tamika Catchings are playing in the same league. But thing she misses most about the
WNBA, and the United States in general, are the fans and the shopping
"Time away from family is during the holidays is probably the hardest thing about
playing overseas," McWilliams-Franklin said. "I miss Ashja. She is a hoot," Taj
said. "I miss just visiting someone in every city i go to."
Taj will be the first to admit that the experience has already been quite different
than anything she has experienced in her years of playing professional basketball.
She has yet to really venture out on her own as she has a full-time translator,
a driver and does not speak the language. When asked about the one thing she missed
most that she forgot to pack, she said all she needed was sour patch kids, which
are probably hard to find across the globe.
has tried the local Seafood soup, and is already a fan. Of course, her team employs
professional chefs to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, so it's not
like she's too far out of her comfort zone.
losing track of her mom during a shopping trip to Milan several years back made
her more cautious and less likely to venture out, but not bringing any family
or friends along for support or companionship enables her to focus on basketball.
Yet, she is still a superstar there and people always ask her how she compares
playing in Korea compared to WNBA.
The Connecticut Sun have advanced to
the WNBA Finals the past two seasons thanks, in large part, to the play of Taj,
who was an All-Star again in 2005. And with McWilliams-Franklin staying in shape
in the offseason and competing against fellow All-Stars in Korea, look for the
Sun to make a strong push to return to the playoffs and take that final step.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.