|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
WNBA DRAFT MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 10, 2014
RON HOWARD:Â Thank you to all our media for joining us this afternoon.Â A reminder the WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm will take place on Monday evening, April 14th, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern on ESPN‑2.Â That will be followed by second‑ and third‑round coverage on ESPNU from 9:00 to 10:30.
I'd like to welcome to the call basketball analysts from ESPN, Carolyn Peck and LaChina Robinson.
We'll begin right away with questions for Carolyn and LaChina.
Q.Â Could I get some comments on what you see in Kayla McBride's game that will translate well to WNBA play.
CAROLYN PECK:Â Kayla McBride has shown throughout her career at Notre Dame that every year she gets better.Â I happened to be in South Bend.Â Just looking at the pictures of their team on the wall, how she has transformed her body to be able to make this next step into the WNBA.
She's a fierce competitor, tremendous versatility.Â She's got great strength and quickness.Â I think that's one of the things you've got to have in the WNBA.
I think she can play from the small forward to shooting guard, run the team in transition when she needs to.Â That versatility makes her extremely valuable in the WNBA.
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I agree with everything that Carolyn noted.Â I would add something that's special about Kayla is her midrange game.Â We talk about a lot of players that can dominate on the interior, the three‑point shot.Â But the midrange game seems to be somewhat of a lost art where you can basically create your own shot.
I think we saw that separation during the Final Four for Kayla McBride where she can just take the ball and has an amazing midrange game, her athleticism.
I think also she expects to win.Â She has an enormous amount of confidence.Â That bodes well for a player coming into a new league.
Q.Â Carolyn, I was wondering if you thought there was any reason for the Connecticut Sun not to take Chiney Ogwumike first overall, if there was any other player that is better suited for Connecticut at this point or might be better suited to be a number one pick?
CAROLYN PECK:Â She's a fantastic player and I think would be a great grab for Connecticut because I think they need that help in the postgame, especially with not having Asjha Jones coming back.Â She fits the speed, is a post that you need in the WNBA.Â She brings great rebounding inside for Connecticut.Â I think she would be a great fit.
Now, for me, you also would have to consider Odyssey Sims because I think that Odyssey is a point guard, the best point guard in the college game, and I think she is so ready.Â I think that Coach Donovan would have to consider do you pass up on that.
In looking at what she got, having Alex Bentley there, that's a huge plus.Â So you have experience at the point position with her.Â But I think that Odyssey this year demonstrated her versatility of being able to play the point.Â She could be a facilitator and give up the basketball like she did three years to Brittney Griner.
I think all in all, for what Connecticut needs, I think Chiney would surely suit the Sun.
Q.Â Carolyn, do you think Stefanie Dolson is a top‑five pick or the bottom part of the draft?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think she is a top‑five pick in my book.Â In talking to Geno, when he was recruiting Stefanie, you might look at her and you might go, She doesn't really look like she would be a great player.Â But when you look at, again, another player who has transformed her body, she has great speed, tremendous conditioning for her size.Â I love the court vision she has.Â She has a point guard mentality as far as distributing the basketball.Â She was the meanest screener in the college game to get players open.Â I think she'd be a tremendous asset to any team.
Q.Â You've talked a little about Odyssey Sims.Â Could you talk a little more about her.Â Then maybe on the guard from OSU, where you think she'll fall.
CAROLYN PECK:Â Well, with Odyssey, like I said, I think she's the best point guard in the college game and coming out in this draft.Â She has such strength, a player that was second in the nation in scoring.Â She was doing that a lot of times being double‑teamed.Â We even demonstrated in some of our illustrations during the game, attracting the attention of three players.
She is so strong.Â Again, another competitor.Â She has that swag that you need coming into the WNBA.
The other guard you're talking about is Tiffany Bias.Â Those two battled in the Big 12 this season.Â Bias has tremendous quickness and tremendous leadership skills as well, for her to help Oklahoma State be so successful when Andrea Riley left.Â I think that she could be a first‑round or early second‑round pick.
Q.Â Do you think that Odyssey could be a player who could come in, assuming she falls to Tulsa at number two, a transformative type of player in her first year?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think so.Â I think if Odyssey ends up in Tulsa, you got to remember that Fred Williams was with Atlanta, and the style they played, going to bring that same style, which fits in perfectly to the way Odyssey would play.Â I think it would be a great complement for she and Diggins together.Â Then you have Riquna Williams.Â That is a go offense.Â Glory Johnson, she would be a great complement to her.Â Glory's athleticism, remember, she was an All‑Star last year.Â I think she has an even bigger upside.Â She'll continue to improve as a pro.
Q.Â With last year's draft, with the billboard that it had, the fanfare it had, I'm not asking you if this year's draft can top that, but is there a publicity letdown if there's not the marquee players in this draft, or do you see marquee players that can electricfy the crowd this year?
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I don't think we have an Elena Delle Donne or Brittney Griner in this class, which I will say they are game‑changers.Â But we have a lot of impact players.Â You could look across the board, especially at the top five, some of the players we've talked about all season, with the need‑to‑know list, Chiney Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Kayla McBride, Alyssa Thomas.Â They're impact players.
You may not have big stars, but it's definitely not a letdown at all because these are players the fans have become familiar with over time.Â I think they will be watching to see how they perform at the next level.Â I think there's tremendous depth in this class.
So where last year was maybe more top‑heavy, I think the talent is stretched across the board, especially through this first round where you'll see a lot of players that can come in right away and make an impact.
Some of that has a lot to do with where the league ended last year.Â There's a lot of players that will be returning from injuries.Â There will be players that will start the season, maybe coming in limping.Â There are international commitments that I think always come into play.Â Therefore, some of these players that are coming in in this first round will be expected to produce early.
CAROLYN PECK:Â I agree with LaChina in that you had a special player like Brittney Griner.Â You don't have that.Â But as far as making an impact, because Brittney wasn't able to make a major impact when she came into the league, and a lot of it was due to fitting into a system that Phoenix was unfamiliar with, then injuries and mid‑season coaching change.Â I think Delle Donne rose as a star of that rookie class.
Like LaChina says, especially the teams that have the top three picks, Connecticut, Tulsa, San Antonio, the league just got real interesting, and I think it's going to be because of the rookies that are going to come in.
With the injuries that are returning this year, I think the top three picks can fill specific needs of teams.Â Not just that they're the best players in the draft, but they will fill specific needs to make these teams competitive.
Q.Â What do you see the direction the Indiana Fever going?Â They have the fourth and ninth pick.Â They've been undersized almost the entire history of the franchise, but they've also lost two of their standout perimeter players.Â Based on what's available, what direction do you think they'll go with those two picks, especially their first one?
CAROLYN PECK:Â Indiana has five and nine.Â At the five spot, you've got to remember that Indiana had signed Lynetta Kizer to come over.Â I think with having Kizer and Elana Larkins will be a tremendous help to Tamika Catchings.
I think the area you have to look at, how do they fill the shoes of Katie Douglas.Â Karima Christmas got tremendous experience last season.Â They brought over Marissa Coleman.Â They lost Erin Phillips.Â Sometimes she was a starting point guard, sometimes she was a backup.
When you look at what is available at five, what could possibly be there, would that be a Bria Hartley or Shoni Schimmel or do you pass at number five on Stefanie Dolson.Â That would be tough to do because coming out of the Connecticut program, you know she's going to be mentally tough and ready to take on the grind of the WNBA.
As a GM, you have to juggle, If I go with Dolson there, because I can't pass her up, at nine what guard would potentially be there that could help fill the shoes left by Katie Douglas and Erin Phillips?
LaCHINA ROBINSON: Â I would have to agree with Carolyn.Â You could add to this team at both the guard and post position.
I think that Lin Dunn, I'm not going to say she shies away from size, but because of the defense that Indiana likes to play, sometimes switch at all five positions, I think they may take a look at a post that is quicker, maybe a little more agile.Â Again, I'm just speculating here.
But I think as Carolyn mentioned, do you go with a Bria Hartley right away, or maybe it's a post like Natasha Howard, who they already have some athletic posts, but if they're looking to go deeper inside, could she possibly be an option.
I think they could take the best available post or guard at that spot.Â As Carolyn mentioned, Bria Hartley is someone I could see fitting well into that system.
Q.Â Kayla McBride, home state player, is she an option?Â Do you think she'd be gone by then?
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I think she'll be gone.
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think she'd be gone, too.Â If she wasn't, how ideal would the Notre Dame fans be from Indiana to have her playing in Indianapolis?
Q.Â Just looking around at the list, I was wondering if that was even a dream.
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think it's a possibility and a dream.Â I think it's going to be interesting to see what San Antonio does.Â I'm sorry, New York.Â I think San Antonio and New York, what they do with their picks.
I think for McBride to drop to five, somebody would have to be holding a lucky rabbit's foot.
In the 2010 draft, I was waiting on Katie Douglas.Â I just knew Washington was going to take her, and they didn't.Â It turned out that we got her in Florida.Â Surprises can happen.
Q.Â Like the third pick in '02, or it was the same draft, the '01 draft?
CAROLYN PECK:Â Yep.
Q.Â Given the depth of this draft, where do you see Meighan Simmons fitting?Â How do you think teams view her?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think this season has been a season of inconsistency for Meighan.Â One thing that has been consistent for her is her quickness.Â She is so fast.Â A team that plays that style, up‑and‑down style of basketball, would be ideal.
The GMs and coaches that I've talked to, she could go as high as seven, or she could be early second round.Â She has the ability to score.Â Depending on which WNBA team she gets on, understanding you're going to be playing with veterans, she has to distribute the basketball.Â She won't be able to volume shoot like she did at Tennessee.
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I agree with what Carolyn said.Â To add on to that, this is one of the more difficult things to tell when you're looking at a senior that's getting ready to go into the WNBA.Â Depending on what your role was on your specific team, how does that lend itself to the new team?Â These teams have 12 spots in the roster, can take on some transition players, definitely bodes well for those that will be late second round.
But I think Meighan goes late first or early second.Â Again, like Carolyn said, depending on style of play.
These players are really expected to come in right away and be able to change that mindset where Meighan has had to bear so much of the responsibility throughout her time at Tennessee, it will be interesting to watch then how she fits into systems where she may not be close to the second or third option, how she can show us the versatility in her game at the next level.
Q.Â When teams look at her, who do you think they're comparing her with in terms of a possible pick?Â What other players in this draft is she in the same pool with in terms of what role she might have?
CAROLYN PECK:Â Other players in this draft?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think she's in the same consideration with Maggie Lucas.Â You look a scorer like Tricia Liston, because Meighan has proven that she can score.Â She can get from PointA to PointA.
Schimmel is a volume shooter, too.Â I think that would be a debate or what GMs would have to look at.
Q.Â You talked about Shoni Schimmel.Â Could you talk a bit more about her prospects in the league.Â Also the fact during her college career, she had a big following of Native Americans.Â Do you think that's something that could catch on in the WNBA?Â Do you see her as being an attraction when her team comes to visit?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I'm going to tell you that I love watching Shoni Schimmel play.Â If she continues to play the way that she did in her final game against Maryland, I thought that was the most in‑tune, the most controlled game I have seen her play.
It's a guarantee when you watch her play she's going to make something spectacular happen within that game.Â I think if she will keep herself in shape, because the speed of that Maryland game, I mean, that was close to WNBA speed.Â With how quickly she can score, get to the spot, and she didn't rely on just the three‑point shot, she was getting to the midrange, she was delivering the basketball.Â I just think she's great and fun to watch.
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I agree.Â I think Shoni, she knows how to captivate a crowd.Â She can play point, shooting guard at the next level.Â I think Carolyn is spot on with her ability to play for long stretches at a high level.Â I think defensively she is in a system where Jeff has emphasized multiple types of defenses where she already has a very high IQ.
As far as her Native American culture, it's been just amazing to watch the support that she and her sister Jude have gotten from the reservations.Â She call it 'res ball'.Â They've branded what it means to be a Native American woman and to go off and play college basketball, which did not happen a ton before they arrived.
We've seen the fans travel to see them from the reservations, very supportive of what these two young women have done.Â I think from a cultural standpoint, not only is it relevant on a broader scale, but I just think that it brings back the significance of what sport can do in society.
Q.Â Is there any chance that Alyssa Thomas or Natasha Howard will be available at number 10?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think it's kind of slim.Â She is a coveted player because of her athleticism, her ability to score, her rebounding.Â I mean, I know that a lot of coaches and GMs think very highly of her.Â But I think she would be a great addition to have her and Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia on the floor at the same time.
Q.Â What about Natasha Howard?Â Her stock has improved a lot.Â She's a banger.
CAROLYN PECK:Â I thought that's who we were talking about.
Alyssa Thomas I think will go in the top four or five, I think.Â And I think Howard won't be far behind that.
Q.Â If you were looking at players like Plouffe, Bussie or Gatling, can any of those make an immediate impact in the WNBA?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I mean, I think if you're looking at Chicago, you have to look at who they're going to be competing with as far as making an impact.Â The impact player is going to be Elena Delle Donne, she and Sylvia Fowles.Â I think those would be tremendous complementary players.
I thought one of the areas that Chicago needed to improve in, when you had to take Sylvia Fowles off the floor, you had to rely on Carolyn Swords, you didn't have much more as far as scoring goes in that post area to bring in.Â That's where a Howard, a Gatling, a Bussie can at least help you get paint points, second‑chance points and rebounds.
Q.Â What would you do if you were looking at both Jennifer Hamson, and Natalie Achonwa, in the Tamika Catchings situation?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I saw Jennifer Hamson play firsthand.Â 6'7", you can't make 'em taller.Â She comes in with it at 6'7", and it's not just height.Â You have a 6'7" player who has the agility of a volleyball player, leaping ability, tremendous timing, shot blocking.Â In the first half, she gave Connecticut fits from scoring around the basket.Â They had to score from the perimeter.
The question is I feel what is her commitment to volleyball.Â She has said to us that she told her BYU coach she's coming back.Â I don't know what these conversations have been since then.Â It's my understanding she could play in the WNBA this season and return.
I also know that this young woman has an aspiration of playing volleyball in the Olympics.Â I don't know if her mindset of priorities has changed or would taking a summer to play basketball, how would that affect that.
Q.Â What would you do with Natalie Achonwa?
CAROLYN PECK:Â If I'm Chicago?
Q.Â Natalie you know is not going to be ready to play this summer.Â Do you think the team can afford to wait for her or do they need to get help right away?
CAROLYN PECK:Â Chicago has signed Sasha Goodlett inside.Â They've kind of got some fillers.Â Jessica Breland.Â Those are players that can play right now.Â I think Jessica Breland has a little more experience than Goodlett.Â If there were a better player, all‑around player, available, they could go that way.Â That option is there.
To hold the rights to Natalie or Jennifer Hamson, that would be a luxury.
Q.Â You talked a little bit about Jennifer Hamson.Â As far as her prospects, when you look at a two‑sport athlete like this, what does she have to do to be successful in the WNBA?
CAROLYN PECK:Â I think the one thing that would only make Jennifer a better player is just to put on more muscle strength‑wise.Â She proved against Connecticut she could hold her own.Â Like I said, tremendous timing.Â I think she had five or six blocks in that game and stayed out of foul trouble.Â I think that is a luxury in the WNBA.Â Because of the agility, the three‑second defensive rule, you can't stay in the paint, you have to move.Â I think she can do that.Â She has a great reach.
If there were one aspect of her game for the WNBA, it would be just to increase her strength.
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â As far as being a two‑sport athlete, I think what you see with a lot of post players, it helps in that mobility that Carolyn is talking about.Â Some of the best post players, male or female that we've seen over time, have also been soccer players because footwork is big when you're playing down low.Â Good hands, we've seen goalies.Â Think about how your reaction time has to improve in volleyball, how quickly the ball is coming at you.
I think for a girl of Jennifer's size, the thing I've been most impressed with is her mobility.Â It comes from the volleyball.Â I think it's only been a benefit.
Now how much basketball will she be able to do during this year playing volleyball, which we understand she's going to do, will be the big question.Â How will she be able to stay into that timing that she picked up on this year having left volleyball which seems to have helped her on the basketball side.
Q.Â You've talked a lot about Odyssey Sims already.Â She's been in a couple of different systems, obviously here at Baylor.Â How has that helped her?Â Also, having to be the main scorer this year.
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I think it's been great.Â I think it's just expanded her value because she had to defer to Brittney Griner for a long time, and did a very good job of that.Â She had to be the main play‑maker for most of her career, and did a very good job of that.Â She had to play defense on the point, hound the basketball, and did a very good job of that.
Then this year, adding on to some of the things we've already seen from her, she becomes a prolific scorer.Â I think her ability to play both the point guard and two guard position became even more of a realistic goal at this WNBA level after what we've seen from her, having to wear different hats during her time at Baylor.
CAROLYN PECK:Â I would agree with LaChina.Â I would add to that, you know, if I'm sitting in a GM's chair, I'm looking at a player, how can players handle roles?Â Like LaChina talked about, the roles that changed for her as a player, from a facilitator to a scorer, going from three years of giving the ball up, then having to take the big shot, to really depending on being that major scorer.Â Then within her senior year, not only a major scorer, but she was a leader.
She demonstrated she could lead.Â She instilled that she trusted her teammates so that when she would be taken away, you look at what she did for Nina Davis.Â She gave that freshman a ton of confidence, giving the ball to Niya Johnson.Â She can play whatever role you want her to.
You don't have to look at Odyssey and go, I don't know if I can take her because she's going to need a lot of shots.Â That's not the case.Â Odyssey has demonstrated she can play a number of different roles and be a leader for you.
Q.Â You had talked about Shoni Schimmel.Â Where do you project her on your board as far as top 10, 12, 15?Â What other players from Louisville, Kentucky can you envision getting drafted?
CAROLYN PECK:Â Well, Shoni, I think she's got the potential to be a first‑round draft pick just depending on the needs of the different teams of needing a player like her.Â She's a show.Â I mean, I love watching her play.Â I think that she has demonstrated she's got a potential to be a very good pro, to play in the WNBA.
Within the area, when you're looking at Kentucky, you also have DeNesha Stallworth, who I think as she continues, I think she's got a huge upside, getting healthy back from that knee.Â With her size, rebounding ability, her ability to score, it gives her value to teams in the WNBA.
Q.Â In regards to Alyssa Thomas from Maryland, one of the things that's been talked about is where does she play at the next level and what you think about her game that transitions best at the next level?
LaCHINA ROBINSON:Â I think Alyssa Thomas has shown the ability to play multiple positions.Â She handles the ball like a point guard in transition.Â She can play on the wing.Â Her passing is incredible and probably one of the more underrated aspects of her game.Â She's got the strength and the size, durability to play at the four position.
But I think the key is going to be for Alyssa Thomas to continue to expand that perimeter game.Â She's a mismatch at both positions because at the power forward.Â I think she's got speed and quickness off the dribble.Â She can pull out some bigger posts.Â Then at the three, she can post up because of her size.
I think the key for her as far as her longevity in the league, this is looking down the line, is to continue to improve her outside shot, because then she can play the two more, look for a three‑point shot.Â I think she will also continue to need to improve her ball‑handling skills in halfcourt.Â In full court she can handle it with the best of them, you need to get out of her way.Â If she can do that part, she's even more of a dangerous play‑maker in halfcourt offense.
I think she can play the three or four spot, and that's where I see her strengths and weaknesses now.
CAROLYN PECK:Â When I look at teams that have that potential to win championships, they got that stretch four player that is interchangeable between the three and the four.Â When you like at Maya Moore, Tamika Catchings, Swin Cash, Plenette Pierson, that's where I see that Alyssa Thomas sits because of her strengths.
I've heard people refer to her as the (indiscernible) because of her strength, don't get in her way.Â She can take you down low, post you up, she will rebound with anybody.Â When I say that, then I go, Players do that.Â Tamika Catchings did that.Â Swin Cash did that.Â Plenette Pierson did that.Â I think that's where Alyssa Thomas can really help a team in that versatility.
When you have Elena Delle Donne last year could go out to the three if the post was guarding her, or go down to the post if a guard is guarding her.Â I think Alyssa Thomas has similar qualities.
To improve that three‑point shot, I think that versatility gives her huge value at the next level.
RON HOWARD:Â Carolyn and LaChina, thank you so much for all of your time.Â We look forward to hearing from you on Monday night.
We're going to turn the call now over to our coaches.Â We have with us from the Anne Donovan, Lin Dunn, Bill Laimbeer, and Fred Williams.
We'll go right to questions.
Q.Â Earlier we were talking about Tamika Catchings.Â I wanted to know with a couple of the players like Natalie and Chelsea Gray if the league is at a point at all where you can risk a first‑round draft pick to draft one of them because of their talent, what they can give you in the future when they are healthy.
BILL LAIMBEER:Â Obviously with the Liberty, we need everything.Â It would be a little difficult for us to use our high first‑round pick on someone who is injured and can't contribute.Â I think every general manager drafting, every coach, is going to have to think twice.
The rule is if they don't play overseas and sign a contract overseas, they have to sign with you during the course of this year or they reenter the draft.Â I think that is going to be an interesting situation because they may not like the team they were drafted by and go back in the draft the following year.
You have to do your homework on them.Â The quality teams will take a whack at them, like Indiana has two first‑round picks, and they're loaded already.
LIN DUNN:Â I think both Gray and Ogwumike could easily go in the late first round.Â I think they've both proven to be quality players.Â I think they have the potential to be future impact players.
I don't see them going in the top five or six, but after that I think it's possible.
Q.Â Anne, if you pick Chiney Ogwumike, could you evaluate her as compared to her sister, what she may be able to bring right away into the WNBA.Â And, Bill, you talked about needing some depth at guard.Â Obviously if you're choosing possibly between McBride and Thomas, is the fact that McBride is a true guard and Thomas' position is up in the air a little bit, does that make any difference in terms of who you might pick if you go with a guard?
ANNE DONOVAN:Â I think with Chiney Ogwumike, we already have the measuring stick of what her sister did in the league early on.Â More than anything, it's intangibles with both Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.Â They both showed they're great leaders, great athletes.Â Their styles do translate to the WNBA.
Chiney, great rebounder, can play either post position, face up or back to the basket.Â I think her sister, probably a little bit stronger and more physical.Â Chiney would be more of a finesse player.Â But I don't know how that will change as she continues to mature and she gets a little bit more accustomed to the physicality of both the international game and the WNBA.
BILL LAIMBEER:Â Traditionally I like the bigger players at each position.Â Can you play up a position or not?Â But we need guard help, there's no question about that.Â McBride is a big guard.
I look at Thomas more as a forward, where I have Carson, who probably can play forward in a pinch if necessary.Â But I need a guard.Â I think McBride could be a good, solid combo guard.Â She's shown her ability this year to handle the ball more so than last year.Â Nobody takes it from her.Â That's a good sign.Â She's not afraid to go out there and play and shoot the big shots.
I mean, take it for what it's worth how I describe the player, but that would fit the mold of what we're looking for.
Q.Â Lin, you've built a lot of teams from the ground up.Â How would you assess where the WNBA is right now 18 years in in terms of attendance, sponsorship and TV ratings?
LIN DUNN:Â Well, I'm excited about where we are in the WNBA.Â I'm excited that we're here in Indiana celebrating our 15th year, league celebrating its 18th year.Â We've got teams that are making a profit.Â I'm excited where we are.
I think we've done a great job over the last few years taking the next step with the TV package with ESPN, our revenue.Â Right now I think it's all good.
Q.Â The number one pick in the draft will earn about $50,000, the veterans will earn around $107,000 for the season.Â That's where the salaries were since 1997.Â Why do you think salaries have remained so stagnant?
BILL LAIMBEER:Â Revenue.Â The league has consistently lost money over the course of time and they're just starting to turn the corner right now.Â Until the revenue increases to a point where there's money for everybody, the players have a revenue sharing agreement kicker in their CBA agreement, you can't go overboard and kill the thing.Â This is still a business and you want to make a buck.
LIN DUNN:Â Since ESPN signed the new deal, I've heard $1 million goes to each team.Â You can share the wealth a little bit.
Q.Â Are the teams getting any of that?
BILL LAIMBEER:Â Yes, they are.Â But this is real world.Â Costs go up every year.Â Look at airline tickets going up dramatically.Â So has hotel space.Â Insurance.Â Every cost goes up every year.Â Unless there's a giant exponential increase in revenue, the salary structure will remain constant.
Q.Â Natalie, how much has her injury dropped her value, where she might fall to?
LIN DUNN:Â Fred, it's your turn.
FRED WILLIAMS:Â You know what, I think her value has not dropped at all as a player who has shown that she has improved over the years and is still a strong leader.
The only thing that probably might have dropped her some is because of the injury.Â You still would get a good‑quality player, pretty much having a good investment in the bank if the team wants to take her and hold her for a year.
I don't think she's a player that's really dropped.Â I think she's going to come back really strong from the injury and be a tremendous player.
BILL LAIMBEER:Â I think her draft position is a minimum of two and a maximum of five slots.
Q.Â Where would that put her?
BILL LAIMBEER:Â I think she was going to be in the six, seven range.Â I think she's dropped a couple.
FRED WILLIAMS:Â I agree with that, Bill, the same way.
Q.Â I want to know if there's any talk amongst you about foreign players?Â I haven't read much about foreign players, maybe one young lady from Spain.
FRED WILLIAMS:Â I would say on my end, I haven't had a chance to venture out there from Tulsa on that end.Â Trying to find a couple flights that would go that far (laughter).Â Just staying at home here in the States and really chasing the college players.
Some of the other coaches may have some feedback on that.
ANNE DONOVAN:Â We looked at the foreign players.Â The CBA made it clear moving forward signing foreign players next year and beyond is going to be a little bit difficult.
We were one that let Sandrine Gruda go.Â She was clear she did not want to come to Connecticut.Â We felt this was our opportunity to get some trade value from her.
As always, it's hard to get the foreigners to commit, to be sure if they commit that they're still going to come, that they are going to stay, they return.Â It's a wild card thing.Â With the new CBA it's going to get harder and harder for the foreigners.
Q.Â What have you seen from Hallie out of Iowa State?Â Where do you see her playing?Â She's played at a few different spots at Iowa State.
BILL LAIMBEER:Â We watched her early on.Â I think she's going to have to improve her foot speed and her strength on the interior.Â As of right now, she's not on our radar for this draft class.
Q.Â Anne, pretty interesting off‑season already transforming your roster.Â Is there anything in the world that can convince you at this point not to take Chiney Ogwumike to finish that first step of the transition, if there's anything that would prevent you from doing that?Â Secondly, for Lin, if the first four picks goes to what it seems, you're sitting with Bria Hartley at number five, would you look at her?
ANNE DONOVAN:Â Sims is quite the player.Â Everybody who thinks that it's a foregone conclusion that Chiney Ogwumike is going to be here with us, we'd love to have Chiney Ogwumike, we'd love to have Odyssey.Â It just depends on guard or post truthfully.
I don't know that Odyssey is not the most prepared player skill‑wise to be in the WNBA.Â She's shown she can pass the ball really well when she played three years with Griner.Â A lot of people are knocking her now she takes too many shots.Â That's what her team needs her to do.Â She's focused defensively as she is offensively.Â I think Sims is a great get for Connecticut or Tulsa.
FRED WILLIAMS:Â Well, we're going to do the opposite of what you do.Â You got the first call on that one there.Â But either player on that end is a good find and good pick.Â You can't count the other players that's in there with Thomas and some of the others.
But, yeah, either player is a good fit.
Q.Â Even though you have Katie Douglas, doesn't mean you wouldn't take another guard, even though you need another four?
ANNE DONOVAN:Â You know, they're both great players.Â Odyssey plays a one, two, can be a shooting guard, point guard, any of those positions in the perimeter.
We have a need at both positions.Â There's more of a need in the post, quite honestly.
LIN DUNN:Â You asked if I would take Hartley at five.Â Of course, we're looking at Hartley at five.Â I think when we get to the fifth pick there, we've got McBride, Hartley, Howard, Dolson, Thomas.Â We're looking closely at all five of those players.Â Would I consider taking Hartley at five?Â Absolutely.
Q.Â Bill and maybe Lin, what do you think of Shoni Schimmel, what she brings to the WNBA?
LIN DUNN:Â I think Shoni Schimmel is just a very, very entertaining player.Â I think she's played in a great system at Louisville with Jeff.Â I will be surprised if she's not drafted in the first round.Â I think she's very entertaining.Â She can certainly shoot the three.Â She went up to the men's Final Four and won the three‑point shooting contest.
I'm impressed with her.
BILL LAIMBEER:Â I think the Liberty fans would get a big kick out of her playing for the Liberty.Â She fits right into their style.
But I pick at 14 and I would doubt she'd be there.Â She may be standing there at 14 and we may have a choice to make.Â But I think she'll be gone if not in the first round the top of the second.
Q.Â With Shoni Schimmel's fan base, what do you think about the revenue she could generate for you?Â This is specifically for Fred Williams.
FRED WILLIAMS:Â Well, I think a player like that would certainly help the fan base here in Tulsa with the reservations here and stuff, a lot of the following she's had around the country with a lot of her fans for any team in this league really.
She's just a terrific player to watch from the standpoint of energy, shooting, just being an all‑around player who can play a couple of positions.
If that happened for us in another round somewhere in there, that's a consideration we would also possibly look at.
Q.Â Anne, regarding Chiney Ogwumike, she of course has shown so much in the post.Â To be a really good WNBA player, does she have to improve her outside game?
ANNE DONOVAN:Â I think Chiney doesn't have the body to be that back‑to‑the‑basket five.Â Her skill set is that she can face up.Â She has good quickness, good feet.
But certainly consistent range is something she will work on and get better at.Â She's shown it to be spotty.Â She's shown confidence shooting it.Â But definitely as a stretch four, she'll have to keep working on that.
Q.Â When you get out of college into the WNBA, everybody is great.Â It's a huge battle inside.Â I'm wondering if that gives anybody pause in what to do as far as drafting, or is it the kind of person you feel like she's so coachable?
ANNE DONOVAN:Â She's very coachable.Â She's shown great improvement every year at Stanford.Â She played internationally for USA.Â She's won gold medals with our national team.Â She's done all the right things to continue to grow her game.Â She's shown a hunger to get better as she does it.
I have to tell you, I was never a huge believer in the PAC‑12.Â But this year, watching the Big 12 Conference tournament, and the PAC‑12 Conference tournament, I was really impressed.Â The PAC‑12 is not the conference it used to be.Â It's gotten much stronger from top to bottom.Â Their teams are preparing her for the next level.
RON HOWARD:Â Anne, Lin, Bill, Fred, thank you for your time.Â We look forward to hearing from you again on Monday night.
We will now be joined by Stefanie Dolson, Kayla McBride, and Shoni Schimmel.Â We'll go ahead and take questions.
Q.Â Kayla, could you talk a little bit about what skills in your game you think would transfer best to the WNBA?
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â I definitely think my versatility, based on I can play a lot of different positions.Â I'm comfortable handling the ball against pressure, playing the wing, I can guard a four.Â I think that's the biggest thing I bring.
Q.Â Kayla, any teams in particular that you would like to play for?Â There's some possibility you could stay in Indiana and play for the Fever.
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â No, it doesn't really matter to me where I go.Â I'm just excited to be here.Â It's an opportunity, something I've dreamed of since I was little.Â Just to be here at the draft, it's an honor to play for any of these coaches, teams, any city.
It would be cool to be in Indiana, close to my sister who is at IU, but that's about it.
Q.Â Stefanie, talk a little bit about what happened in Connecticut winning the men's and women's championships.
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â Well, I think Connecticut is Connecticut for a reason.Â They are well‑coached.Â Had a lot of presence inside that just overpowered us from the get‑go.Â They came out more confident.Â We didn't have too much confidence coming into the game, I think some of the players.Â I think that was the biggest difference.Â I didn't think we were as ready mentally as we needed to be.
Q.Â What does that do for the state, for women's basketball and the WNBA, with Connecticut being a hotbed of women's basketball?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Is this question for Kayla?Â I can't hear.
Q.Â Each player, talk about your excitement in these hours leading up to the draft.
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â I'm just excited.Â I think it's been a great four years here at Connecticut.Â All great things have to come to an end.Â I'm just excited and really anxious to get the next chapter of my life started.Â To be able to keep playing basketball is definitely a dream of all of ours.Â I'm excited to keep going.
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â I think I'm excited for the moment.Â This is only going to happen one time.Â Just to be here with such great players, this is an honor.Â I'm just excited to be here.
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Along with both of what they said, this is an exciting moment for all of us.Â It's something for us to go out there and play at the top level.Â It's something we've definitely dreamt of as kids.Â Now it's real life and it's come to all of us.Â We're looking forward to it.Â I know I am for sure.
Q.Â Shoni, there's a possibility you could be out in Seattle.Â What do you think as far as your fan base goes, especially with the Native American community?Â Do you have any thoughts about being in Seattle?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Well, yeah, definitely.Â It's in my mind because it's close to home where I'm from.Â I know there's a lot of Native Americans up in the West Coast area, especially the Northwest.
It's definitely a thought.Â But regardless of where I go I think a lot of fans will go and support me in general.Â Doesn't really matter where I go.
Q.Â Does your extended family mention anything to you as far as hoping maybe that happens?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Oh, yeah, definitely.Â My grandparents especially, because they'd love to go up there, have a four‑hour drive to go watch me play.
At the same time I hope the games are more on TV this year so that way they can watch them on TV, drive, just be able to watch the games.
Q.Â Stefanie, when did you start realistically thinking about the WNBA?Â Was it after your junior season?Â Did you come into college thinking that was a possibility?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Yeah, I definitely didn't come into college knowing if it was a possibility.Â I didn't know that I had the potential that I did, that coach saw in me.
I would definitely say it was after sophomore year going into junior year, kind of having the feeling we were going to have a really great season, that I was going to get better as a player.Â Realizing I can help the WNBA, I could potentially help a team win games, is something that put a lot more confidence in myself.
Now obviously being able to have this opportunity to go into the draft is just something exciting that I never thought was possible in high school.
Q.Â Is it your versatility, you added skills through the years, that made you think believing the WNBA was possible?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Yeah, I think it's my versatility, the different dynamics that I added to my game.Â I came into college with a big flow, could put the ball in the basket down low.Â But I've added a lot more to my game now.Â I can step out.Â I can shoot a three.Â I can defend players, obviously no one like Kayla or Shoni.Â Give me a forward or a post, I can guard 'em.
I've just gotten better at things like rebounding or scoring, so...
Q.Â What skills or traits do you see in Bria that makes you think she's going to be a good pro?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â With Bria, she's just a scorer.Â She has a scorer's mentality.Â She can do so many different things on the court when it comes to the offensive game.Â She brings a lot of confidence to any team she's on, makes players around her better.Â She passes the ball, is a lot smarter.Â She's added a lot of different things to her game being here at Connecticut.Â I know she's ready for the next level, as well.
Q.Â Has Jimmy Kimmel asked you for a specific date to go on the show yet?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â It's Jimmy Fallon.Â He has not contacted me, but we are in contact.Â Hopefully I'll be able to get on the show to meet him.
Q.Â Shoni, obviously being drafted is a dream of yours.Â With the Native American population in Oklahoma, does Tulsa have a different attraction for you personally?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Yes, definitely.Â I actually had the chance to play in Oklahoma this past year.Â There was a lot of people who came out and supported not only us.Â It was a long three hours after the game of signing autographs, taking pictures, taking the time to talk to all the Native Americans who came out and watched the game.
Oklahoma has definitely a huge Native American fan base.Â If it happens to end up that way, then of course there's going to be a lot of fans.
Q.Â In addition to the Native American population, what about Tulsa's roster is exciting for you?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Just to be able to play with great players.Â Skylar is there.Â Instead of playing against her, playing with her.Â Fred Williams just got the coaching job over there.Â Riquna Williams is the leading scorer with 51 points.Â That's huge.Â For me to be able to pass them the ball, whatever it may be, whatever I need to do for the team...
They have a great roster.Â They're just starting up.Â Whatever I can contribute to them, I'm looking forward to do that.
Q.Â Kayla and Stefanie, can you look back to your time with the U.S. national team.Â Did it show you what you needed to work on in your game to be successful at the pro level?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â For me it was definitely an eye‑opening experience being able to play with all those women at the USA trials.Â I realized that I need to get stronger obviously down in the post, get more physical.Â That way I'm better at rebounding the ball because obviously being in the league it will be older women who are stronger than most girls in college.
I definitely have to work on my strength, work on my quickness.Â At the trials, there were a lot of players that could drive right by me.Â Doesn't happen a lot in college.
There's definitely some things I need to work on.
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â I think it was just humbling.Â You look at all those great players, that's what you strive to be.Â It was a great experience.
To work on, strength and quickness.Â It's a whole different level of play.Â Tamika, watching how hard she plays the entire game, that's how it is every single game.Â It's bringing that intensity to a whole other level.
Q.Â Stefanie, you're pretty used to everything by now in terms of media and whatnot.Â Were you surprised when Jimmy Fallon walked out on stage and you were the focus of the first three minutes of his monologue?Â Must have caught you by surprise in a pleasant way.
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Yeah, it was definitely surprising, especially since last year Ellen never contacted me.Â A little upset about that one.
But Jimmy Fallon, the fact that he said something about our team, kind of called me out personally, was really cool.Â I was really excited last night.Â I'm trying to see if I can get there.Â I'm hoping to bring the whole team, that way all the girls can be there and not just me.Â So it was pretty special.
Q.Â Do you think you can take him both in basketball and video games?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Basketball, yeah.Â Video games, I'm terrible at XBOX.
Q.Â Kayla, listening to Bill Laimbeer talk, it seemed pretty certain he wants to take you with the third pick.Â He's talking about his need for a big guard.Â Are you a city girl?Â If you get an opportunity to play in NewYork City, would you like that, or would you like the quiet?
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â I think I would appreciate the city life.Â Being in South Bend, Indiana, the last four years, I'm ready for a change.
I know Coach Laimbeer is a great coach.Â For him to recognize me in that way, it's a great honor.Â If I end up there, I do.Â I would love that opportunity.
Q.Â A lot of nice things were said about you at the Final Four and the NCAA tournament for your leadership ability, what you did for your team.Â How did that make you feel?
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â It's been a long four years.Â As a senior, I had to take on a different role when Sky left.Â It means a lot, that team and that program, Coach McGraw.Â To have that recognition, it's more than humbling.
Q.Â Shoni, what is it like for you, the quick sort of transition you make from having played in a game in the NCAA just a week ago and now already looking forward to your pro career, how quick that transition is for you?Â One scenario I wanted to ask you about is where do you envision yourself going?Â Do you expect to be a first‑round pick?Â How do you feel the draft shapes out for you?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Well, to answer your first question, I've just been working out a lot lately.Â I know the transition is going to be a little bit different because you're going from college basketball to the WNBA.Â Just working out, trying to get ready for all that.
I actually had a chance to shoot at the three‑point shooting contest in Dallas last week.Â Just staying in shape, continuing to keep playing basketball is my main focus right now.
Q.Â Where do you expect to go?Â Are you expecting to go in the first round?Â If you didn't, would that be a disappointment?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â I mean, I'm going to the WNBA Draft this weekend, so for me to be there I'm obviously there for a reason.Â I'm not going to sit there and say I'm not focused going the top five, whatever it may be.Â I'm just there to have the opportunity to sit there and embrace this process and enjoy it at the same time.Â They invited 10 people for a reason.Â For me to be invited to be there, it's a great honor.Â I'm going to be excited to be there.
Q.Â Stefanie, you've been more effective defending Chiney Ogwumike than anybody.Â What is it that you do that you become the kryptonite to her Super Woman?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â I don't know.Â I guess I just don't give up.Â I think a lot of people kind of give in to being tired, let an offensive player do whatever they want to them.
I give a lot of credit to my coaches.Â Obviously they scouted her extremely well, made sure I knew what was her go‑to move, what she likes to do.Â I think I'm pretty smart in the way I kind of take things away from a player.Â I make them do things they don't necessarily want to do.Â I make things tougher for them offensively.Â Kind of make them have to outwork me while I'm defending them, so...
Q.Â As you matriculate into professional basketball, she's going to face a lot of good defenders like yourself who are big, strong and smart.Â Is she going to have to figure something out to get around you guys?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â I don't know.Â Chiney is a great player.Â I don't take anything away from her.Â I think she's going to do great in the league.Â There are a lot of great players that are older and smarter.
I think it's a transition that we're all going to have to make, feeling out how our game has to fit into this league.Â I'm sure we're all nervous about it.Â I think you have to talk to Chiney Ogwumike about that.Â I'm not going to take anything away from her game or what I think other players would do to stop her.
Q.Â Stefanie, there was a lovely piece about the great improvement you've made, it was in Monday's New York Times.Â As you go into the pros, the way you've shaped your career, maybe you'll want to give back and help younger players who are big and slow, maybe limited, then finding themselves.Â You've found the formula to make more improvement than anybody I've seen.Â Would you like to be a mentor with big young players?
STEFANIE DOLSON:Â Definitely.Â Something that I enjoy doing is giving back, making sure I can kind of make other people happy sometimes.
Being able to be in hopefully the WNBA this coming summer, it's an opportunity for me to get that notoriety with the transition I made, how hard work really does pay off.Â It's something that I actually have done while being here at Connecticut, going around to schools, talking about my journey, what I had to go through, what I was able to accomplish with hard work.
It's something that I enjoy doing and definitely will continue to do as I get older, as I play in the league for a few years.Â So, yeah.
Q.Â Shoni, how meaningful would it be for you to play for the Connecticut Sun, a team owned by a tribe, and so is the venue in which they play?Â That seems like the place you should be.Â Do you ever think about that?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â With it being Native American based, it's the Mohegan Sun, it's going to be a great opportunity to play in front of not only Native Americans but fans overall.
I've thought about it, of course, because mainly it is Native American.Â But regardless of where I end up, I'm excited to have this opportunity to play in the WNBA.
Q.Â One of the coaches made a comment about you're such an entertaining player, so in some ways that makes you perfect for the WNBA.Â In the pro ranks, people like to see some cool stuff.Â That gets the crowd going.Â Are there some things you've kept under wraps when you played in college that you're looking forward to showing in the pro ranks?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â Yes, to some degree.Â At the same time I have so much to grow from.Â College is just one aspect of my life that I got to be able to play basketball.Â I'm looking forward to making the next step in my basketball career.Â That's going to the WNBA, playing in the WNBA, just elevating my game, being able to have that chance to play against the great players in the WNBA.Â You grow up watching them and learning from them.Â You kind of put it all into your own kind of game.Â For you to do that, it's your own style of play.Â It's what we all have, our own individual play.
I'm just looking forward to grow in this whole process and take whatever I can get from whoever my teammates are, take it and run with it.
Q.Â Shoni, there's talk out there you might get drafted by Chicago.Â What would it mean to you to play with your teammate from Louisville?
SHONI SCHIMMEL:Â It would be awesome, just because we have those four years under our belt together, we know each other better.Â It would be amazing.
At the same time I'm just looking forward to playing in the league.Â If we end up playing at the same place, it would be awesome.
Q.Â Kayla, you played 38 games in the college game, a marathon season.Â The WNBA is just around the corner.Â How do you handle the time between now and training camp?Â Do you give yourself a break?Â Are you getting ready for the WNBA?
KAYLA McBRIDE:Â I'll take a little bit of a break, but not really.Â I'll be back in the gym making sure my body's right and everything is good so I feel confident going into training camp.
RON HOWARD:Â Thank you so much for your time this afternoon.Â We wish all three of you the best of luck on Monday night.
To our media participants, thank you so much for your time this afternoon.Â We wish you the best as you move forward covering the draft between now and Monday.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports