Q & A with Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips

Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips was named the 2010-11 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year
Photo courtesy of Xavier University

If size is expected to go early in the 2011 WNBA Draft, then Ta'Shia Phillips may go sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-6 center out of Xavier has just that. Combine that with a strong defensive mindset and a willingness to learn, and she may very well be a prime target for any team looking to build down the middle.

Phillips chatted with WNBA.com about the upcoming draft at ESPN and how she expects her game to transition from college to the WNBA.

WNBA.com: A few experts and mock drafts have already suggested that size is going to go early in this Draft. At 6-foot-6 I�d say you�re a perfect fit for that category. Do you expect to go sooner rather than later?

Ta�Shia Phillips: I haven�t really paid attention to those types of things. I�ve tried to stay a normal person for as long as I possibly can (laughs). So I�ve really just been hanging out in my room, not doing too much, but I�ve been told that I will. You never know. It�s kind of like the NCAA. You never know what�s going to happen. You know there are predictions made. Things change, so hopefully the best thing I can possibly get will happen.

WNBA.com: So are you making an extra effort to not pay attention to any of the talk around the Draft?

TP: So many people kind of get caught up in those types of things and they get upset and disappointed when things don�t happen as planned or as expected, so I don�t want to set myself up for any type of disappointment or anything. Just going in there and hoping for the best.

WNBA.com: You�re coming off a season where you were named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and named to the Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team. I guess it goes without saying that defense is your strong suit. Do you feel that will translate well into the WNBA?

TP: I�m hoping so. I�ve always worked extremely hard and it�s always been my staple to work as hard as I can for as long as I can and just give my best effort. And I feel like a lot of the times my best effort comes on rebounding and defense, so defense I definitely plan on maintaining that level of intensity hopefully because no one likes to get scored on, but I hate to get scored on. That�s kind of my driving force.

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  • WNBA.com: Think about the WNBA level and all the big names in the league. You�re going to be playing in the paint with the world�s best basketball players. Players like Lauren Jackson and Tina Charles, just to name a few. I know you said you hate getting scored on, but they�re pretty good at it.

    TP: They are pretty good at it, but you know whatever you set your mind to you can accomplish. Those are great players. I�ve played against Tina, she�s a great player. Obviously Lauren Jackson is one of the game�s greats, but at the same time it�s about effort. If you�re willing to battle with them then I�m sure great results will come. You can�t stop them from scoring every time but I�m pretty sure there�s a way to possibly minimize it as much as you possibly can.

    WNBA.com: Any specific areas of your game that you think you need to work on to make the jump to the WNBA?

    TP: A lot of times people are so used to me playing back to the basket and that�s because that�s what I do. I didn�t have to stretch myself. It�s not that I�m not able to do it, I guess that now that I�m going to have to use it I should start putting it back to work in workouts and things to make sure I�m ready to be able to do that when the time comes.

    WNBA.com: What kinds of intangibles do you bring to a team?

    TP: Hard work. Effort. I try and be a great teammate as much as possible. Just be whatever the coach needs be to be. Whatever asset that they need me to be. That�s pretty much what I�m going to try and do. Just mold myself as well as possible.

    WNBA.com: Would you say you�re someone who is open to learning and always improving?

    TP: Always. They say when you stop learning you�re no good to anybody. And there�s no point in being no good because you have the rest of your life to live. I always try and learn because there�s so many different ways to do things. Not everything is going to fit everybody, but if you can adjust it to yourself and make it work for you in a certain way that works for you then you�ll be fine. You�re still learning what they want you to learn and you�re still doing what they want you to do, just the best way it fits to you. As long as you keep growing then you become more helpful. The more you learn, the more you grow, the more you change.

    WNBA.com: It�s been four years since you were the youngest person to walk onto a team. Do you think it will be anything like freshman year?

    TP: No, I mean everything�s a transition. It�s how you make it and how you approach it. I�m going in there with the best mindset possible. It�s just that [I need to] be ready, do what I can, learn what I can and if things don�t go that way I�m sure they�ll find a way for me to adjust. I�m sure they will because that�s the mindset I have, just going in and making the best of the opportunity.

    WNBA.com: Do you expect it to be a challenge in training camp to try and crack a team�s 11-player roster?

    TP: It will be. It�ll take extra effort because obviously they already have their expectations set from watching you play and there�s plenty of people that are coming in that want to take the spot that you currently have. So it�s going to be a battle. It�s just like coming into college. You�re going to have to earn your spot and I�m willing to do that. I�m willing to earn my spot.

    WNBA.com: Rookies often talk about how difficult it is in training camp, not necessarily in playing, but sometimes they want to take on a more reserved role or they�re too timid to speak up because they don�t think they�re allowed to have as big a voice yet. Do you think that�s going to be an issue or are you prepared to kind of step up as a leader?

    TP: I�ve always been more of a lead-by-example type, so that�s pretty much what I plan to stick to. If they need me to be a more vocal leader then I�m willing to take that chance. Just like Coach [Kevin] McGuff wanted me to be a more vocal leader this year and I took on that role. So if that�s what they want me to do than I�m willing to do it.

    WNBA.com: As a player who makes a living in the paint, what kind of WNBA players do you look to in terms of emulating their style of play?

    TP: I�ve never really modeled myself after anyone that�s in the WNBA. I�ve always just kind of tried to play my best and be my best. But I�m a little different because even Lauren Jackson, she�ll step up and she�ll shoot the three. I�ve never really done that but I�ve just always tried to be the best that I can. So being the best post player I guess in that mindset is what I have.

    WNBA.com: When you think of current players in the league, who are you looking forward to defending the most?

    TP: I don�t think I have anyone that I�m looking forward to defending the most because they�re all great. So hopefully I�ll just go out and do the best I can against each and every last one of them. Going against Lauren Jackson, who�s been in the league for forever, that�s an opportunity not many people have and I�m looking forward to it, but also some of the newer players, the younger players, like Tina who�s come in and been successful. I�m looking forward to that too. So just playing anybody in the post. Just being able to have that opportunity to work hard and be the best I can is what I�m looking forward to.