Question & Angel
Building with the WNBA’s top draft choice.
by J. Gamble
Before joining the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, rookie Angel McCoughtry led an underdog Louisville woman’s basketball program to the cusp of its first-ever national chip, and unprecedented media attention.
Then she was taken No. 1 in the ‘09 WNBA Draft. Now McCoughtry has the task of helping turn around a second-year franchise that was 4-30 in its inaugural WNBA season. So far the high-energy forward is on her job.
Thanks to McCoughtry, who is flourishing in her role coming off the bench, and veterans like Queens’ Finest, Chamique Holdsclaw, and Sancho Lyttle, the Dream has already surpassed last year’s win total.
“Our team goals are to make the playoffs and go far,” says McCoughtry, who is averaging a solid 9 points, 2 boards and 2 dishes a game. “My personal goal is to change the women’s game like Michael Jackson has changed music. And I want to be around for a long time!
Quirky. Relentless. Energetic. As confident as a hostage negotiator. That is McCoughtry. This is her Q & A with SLAM’s J. Gamble, in which Angel reflects on her first 15 games as a pro.
SLAM: Did you think you’d be the No. 1 draft pick after your team’s loss to UConn in the NCAA Championship game?
Angel McCoughtry: After the loss to UConn I was a little devastated, but I knew there were greater things to be expected. I was praying and hoping I went number one but I wouldn’t know until my name was called.
SLAM: How long did it take you to recover from that loss?
AM: It took me a couple of days, but at the same time, I was proud because our program reached new heights. I realize everyone doesn’t get that type of experience.
SLAM: What did being drafted No. 1 mean to you?
AM: It was like all my dreams came true right in front of my eyes. There is no feeling like it.
SLAM: Biggest difference between pros and college?
AM: The biggest difference from pro to college is that the game is more physical and a lot faster.
SLAM: What is the one thing about the WNBA that you expected to be harder?
AM: Taking the time to do the right things to take care of my body. In college you have so many people sheltering you and helping you to do the right things for your body, but now you have to stay disciplined and get enough rest and eat right.
SLAM: What is one thing about your WNBA experience so far that you expected to be easier?
AM: Learning a new system.
SLAM: How did you feel about going to Atlanta, a sophomore franchise coming off a 4-30 season?
AM: I love the city of ATL. The people here excited about this new franchise. I really don’t worry about the losing season from last year. I’m going to try to come in and help the team to new heights, like I did at Louisville.
SLAM: What is your main role on this team?
AM: My role on this team, so far, is to come in off the bench and bring energy and an extra spark.
SLAM: How did you handle coming off the bench for the first time in your career?
AM: I don’t mind coming off the bench. It doesn’t bother me. My mentality is whatever I do I’m going to be a beast at it, whether I start or come off the bench.
SLAM: How is it playing with veterans like Chamique Holdsclaw?
AM: The vets are great and they are like my mentors. I look up to all of them.
SLAM: How have experienced winners like them helped your transition so far?
AM: They are proven winners, and we have already beaten last year’s win total of four games. We will get better and better.
SLAM: How did you prepare for your first WNBA game?
AM: I was nervous my first game, but I played well. All I did was have a mentality that I would go out there and have tons of fun.
SLAM: You tend to remind me of Sheryl Swoopes as far as the rare combination of your rare combination of defensive toughness and versatile scoring. What player does your game most resemble?
AM: On the men’s side, my game resembles Dwyane Wade because he gets steals, he’s athletic and can get into the lane and shoot. In the women’s game they compare me to Swoopes.
SLAM: What has been the biggest change in your life since going pro?
AM: The constant travel. We travel so much I don’t even have groceries in my refrigerator.
SLAM: Any endorsement deals yet?
AM: The economy is a little rough right now. I’m taking the endorsements one by one. I have a shoe deal with Peak. They offered a really good contract. Please look out for some commercials soon. I have a book coming out. And I hope to get into modeling.
SLAM: What did the commissioner say to you as far as being the No. 1 pick, and what is expected of you as one of the faces of the league as it tries to grow and increase in popularity?
AM: I haven’t really heard much from the commissioner but I have a pretty good idea of what they want me to do.
SLAM: Do you feel you are capable of coming out and making a major impact like last year’s No. 1, Candace Parker?
AM: Yes, I believe so but I never compare myself to other people. Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I will do.
SLAM: What part of your game do you feel needs the most work?
AM: My handle and my three-ball. I want to start crossing people up more [laughs].
SLAM: Do you feel like veteran players are going after you harder because you are a No. 1 pick?
AM: Sometimes I feel that way but I love the competition and I love taking on any challenge.
SLAM: Your favorite NBA team and player?
AM: I don’t have a favorite NBA team, but my favorite player is King James.
SLAM: Who is the best team in the WNBA this season?
SLAM: Who are the top three WNBA players in the game right now?
AM: I love this question… Tameka Catchings, Alana Beard and Sancho Lyttle.
SLAM: What kind of music is in heavy iPod rotation?
AM: Gospel and Hip-Hop.
SLAM: What’s your biggest inspiration, motivation before a game?
AM: The fact that God has blessed me and he is the reason for my success not me.
SLAM: Tell me something about yourself off-court that most people don’t know?
AM: People see my passion on the court and they think that’s how I am off the court. I’m really very goofy and silly.
SLAM: What celebrity do you still want to meet before the season is out?
AM: I would like to meet President Barrack Obama. I didn’t get my chance to because we lost in the championship game.
SLAM: What part of your game is most slept on?
AM: My three-ball.
SLAM: What song describes your game?
AM: Flight of the Bumble Bee. It’s a symphony and the music just gets more intense like my game.
SLAM: If you were a whip, what kind would you be?
AM: I would have to be a Bugatti because it’s fast and expensive.
SLAM: What is the name of your alter ego?
AM: The name of my alter ego is Lori Ann… boom cat! Boom cat! [Laughs.]