We are obviously disappointed with how the season ended; not making the postseason. Its not a matter of excuses. We gave ourselves an opportunity in several instances to play our way into the postseason but we didnt complete the deal. The hope is that we gain some valuable experience so we can eliminate some of those mistakes and gain a little confidence in the trenches when it really matters. We want our players to grow so our team can grow.
Were you pleased with the progress of the rookies?
I am extremely pleased with Carolyn Swords. She did a great job. She played the five position her entire career and she ended up playing a lot of four for us. She was just a steady player. Even when not starting or scoring baskets I thought she was steady throughout practice and games and challenging Sylvia every day. Thats tremendous. When you have a player who knows every play you are going to run, it really helps Sylvia mimic game situations. I thought she helped Sylvia have a great year.
I thought Courtney could have had much more of an impact. I know people talk about the rookie wall. I think it is all part of the process of growing up, maturing, accepting where you are and what level this is. Im hopeful that Courtney understands that. I think the first season away from us is going to be tremendous for her in terms of how she does next year. She plays the point. Its the position that supposed to make it easier for everyone else. In order to do that you have to make it easier on yourself in terms of confidence and understanding of whats going on. Overall you look at the accolades, making the All-Star team and the All-Rookie team. From the outside looking in it looks good. But if you ask Courtney she would not have been pleased with how things finished. She hit a plateau, but I think shell be better for it next season.
What did you ask the team to do as they play overseas in anticipation of next year?
It was very individualized. We know our players and we also have the advantage of knowing Europe. We know the teams they play with and who they are going to play against, whether its EuroLeague or EuroCup. And were also over there. We are an email, phone call or Skype away in the same time zone. Sometimes the players look to get individual workouts from us that they can do on their own. With each of them, I talked about basketball stuff, leadership, character, and stepping up to the plate. Accountability!
What are some of the holes on the 2011 team that you hope to fill looking towards next year?
We need consistent scoring from the perimeter from every single position from Sloot to Piph to post players to everyone. We are going to have open looks when Sylvia Fowles is on the floor. That was one area we were up and down and that mirrored our season.
I didn't think we were a great rebounding team. Sometimes the numbers look good, Sylvia might get 15 rebounds, some else would get 10, but we need everyone to rebound. Defense is rebounding, and rebounding is defense. The stuff championships are made of.
We also need to take better care of the basketball. We need to be better ball handlers at every position. From Sylvia making an outlet, to Sloot protecting the basketball, to Piph reading the situation and knowing when to pass or shoot. I named those three because they are my All-Stars so I start with them as they should carry the heavier load.
What about intangibles? Were there any missing from the 2011 team?
The players would agree that we lacked a consistent leader on the floor. Not just leadership when things are going bad. Sometimes you need people to lead when things are going well. I think its sometimes too late when you get to the huddle during a timeout or in the locker room. Sometimes it has to happen on the floor. We did have players who attempted to step up this season but we didnt have a consistent grab-somebody-by-the-collar and-shake-them-up type leader. That was missing. That is something we definitely need to add.
Who are some of the stars that might be on the Skys radar for the 2012 draft?
I think a lot of people will be visiting Stanford and Tennessee to start off with. I wont be going to games being overseas but the way things are set up with Slingbox and DVR I can watch almost every game. Four years ago it wouldnt have been an option. Now it is.