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Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins talk about becoming pros and what they expect in the WNBA

Published on April 16, 2013

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The top three draft picks of the 2013 WNBA Draft answered questions yesterday after their selection.

Brittney Griner || Elena Delle Donne || Sklyar Diggins

Brittney Griner

Q.  You’re now a professional athlete.  Can you just talk a little bit about your excitement for today?  Also, the impact that you would like to have on and off the court.  Now you’re going to be a brand as a professional athlete.  So I’m just curious to know a little bit of your thoughts. 
BRITTNEY GRINER:  Thank you first.  Thank you.  Just today has been amazing.  It was a dream come true today.  This is like a little kid in Disney World for the first time and meeting all the characters.

Sitting at that table, when they said 15 seconds, my heart just started beating so fast.  My hands were sweating.  I was grabbing the tablecloth underneath, wiping them down.  Talked to Holly, couldn’t even get my words out.

Definitely thought I was going to have a heart attack at the table.  I’m definitely excited.  Just being a pro now and being my own brand.  On the court, definitely want to bring it, bring it every time I step on that court.  Just anything and everything I can do to just help the league out and just bring that excitement and just get more followers to the league, to the game, put more people in those stands, whatever I have to do I’m going to go out there and do it.

And then off the court, just with the media now is so crazy around sports, especially women’s sports.  And it’s still growing and we’re still going to grow it.

Just doing something positive with it.  And just reaching out into the community and just doing everything I can to just to give back.

Q.  So were you more nervous when you got drafted or when you met Tony Hawk this morning?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  Both.  I was speechless on both.  My eyes kind of started to tearing up on Holly, when I met Tony.  I couldn’t say anything.  Both of them were hand in hand.  But obviously just getting drafted and being that No. 1 overall pick that was definitely above it.  But Tony was there number two.

Q.  You’re joining a team that has an abundance of talent with Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor and the rest.  What do you want to bring to the team that is extra to help push Phoenix right to the top?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  You know, defense is my favorite thing.  I love defense.  I feel like I can be that defensive stopper down in the low post, and just somebody come in there, sit next to us at half court.  And just bringing the dunking element of my game to Phoenix.  Just that excitement.  I mean, I feel like everybody would like to see D throw up that alley?oop, I catch it and slam it.  So just bringing my defensive grit and the dunking and the blocking shots and just the high energy I play with, bringing that to the table.

Q.  You talked earlier today about the excitement, all about the X factor and the fan base.  Can you talk about how important that is for you to connect to the fan base in Phoenix and how much you’re looking forward to that?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  I think it’s very important to have a great fan base.  As players, we feed off of that.  And Phoenix already has?? they already have a great fan base.  And I hope me going to the team can help bring out even more and turn non?basketball fans into basketball fans and bring out even more people and just pack the house every night.  Because that’s what we need just to help out the league.  Packing out that house every time and just having the fans into it.

Q.  The experience you had with Team U.S.A., the lessons you learned maybe there, how much will that help maybe even in the transition now to go to the WNBA?
BRITTNEY GRINER:  Definitely got a taste of the pace, I would say.  It’s definitely a faster pace than in college.  So I definitely got a little sense of that.  They’re bigger, they’re stronger.  These are veterans.  They have been playing for a while and bigger and stronger, faster.  Definitely going to have to get in and work hard.  It’s not just going to be a cake walk.  Definitely going to get in there and work as hard as I can every day, before and after.  And just playing with U.S.A. just definitely gave me a sense of what I have to look forward to
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Elena Delle Donne
Q.  Elena, congratulations on being picked second.  You’re sort of in a situation like Brittney that you’re going to a team that has a lot of established veterans already.  Does that make your life easier knowing that you can come in and not have to carry a franchise right away?  You can come in there and help out and do what you do well? 
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  Yeah, without a doubt.  I think this is a phenomenal team that I’ll be joining.  There are a lot of players who are going to be mentors to me and really help me out along the way.  I think I’m going to learn a ton from these players.  Just, I think it will also elevate my game.

We definitely have a great team.  I felt like I was a really good puzzle piece for this team.  You don’t want to say where you want to go before this is all happening, but Chicago was definitely my pick, and I wanted to go there really badly.

Q.  Elena, I’m sure today is a wonderful day for you and your family.  When you walked away from the game during college and you took some time off, in your wildest dreams did you ever imagine that you’d be sitting here today second player drafted in the 2013 WNBA draft?  Can you just reflect on that and how far you’ve come?  Also, to piggyback off of that, can you also talk a little bit about where you’d like to see your career go as a professional athlete? 
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  If somebody told me that in five years I would be the number two draft pick going to the Chicago Sky to play my professional career, I would have told you you were crazy.  When I left Connecticut, I told myself, that’s it.  Basketball is not going to be in my future.

It’s just been such a growing experience for me.  People say when you’re 18, you don’t know what you want and you’re crazy and all that.  But you just grow up.  I’ve been able to go to Delaware, be near my family, grow up really just expand as a person.  Now I’m a 23?year?old woman, and this is so incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait to play professionally.

What I’m looking for, I’m looking for?? I want to elevate my game to another level, and I think there’s a lot that I can work on.  Obviously, I want to transform my body as best as possible.  But I think that there is a lot that can be done now at Chicago.  They haven’t gotten to the playoffs.  That is number one.  We want to get to the playoffs and we want to be playing in postseason.  I want to leave a legacy there without a doubt, and I will work incredibly hard and play my heart out for this team.

Q.  You talked about Chicago being a place you wanted to go.  Is part of that because you have such great interior force in Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince?  And talk about how you fit in there playing off those two? 
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  With Sylvia being such an incredible post presence in there, I think that is amazing.  Obviously, they have to guard Sylvia, and they also need help to guard Sylvia.  So I’m going to be able to spread the floor.  I’m going to be able to create a lot of room on the court.

So if they want to help off of me, we’re going to be able to kick it and shoot a three.  If they don’t want to help off of me, Sylvia’s going to have a field day in there.  Not only that, you have Courtney Vandersloot who can make any pass possible.  She sees the floor better than most point guards that I’ve ever seen.  Then Epiphanny Prince who can score the ball anywhere.

Then Swin Cash, I don’t even have to say anything, she’s absolutely amazing.  She’s someone who I’m really going to look to as a mentor and have her guide me as best as possible and get me to be a better player.

Q.  You mentioned in the ESPN interview that you go through the Kobe workouts.  Can you elaborate a little bit more on what that is and what you’ve been doing to prepare yourself for WNBA action? 
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  Yeah, the credit goes to my brother on that one.  He had heard that Kobe plays full court one?on?one.  So we were doing 6:00 a.m. workouts full court, one?on?one.  He’s hitting me, punching me, fouls don’t matter.  You know, even blood didn’t matter at that point.

So that’s what we were doing, full court one?on?one, which is a very tough thing, and I’m assuming we’ll be doing that pretty shortly.

Q.  I was talking to John Noonan before, and he said you can’t wait to get back into the gym.  What things, when you get out from behind the camera, and I know how much you enjoy that, how important is it for you to just kind of get back to work, get back to the business of basketball, and what will be your focus when do you that? 
ELENA DELLE DONNE:  I’ve actually been to the weight room, but I want to get back to the weight room even more on a consistent basis day after day.  Then I want to work on some conditioning, because we’ve had rookie orientation, and I’ve been taking notes on what some of the players have said about rookies.  And they said most of them come in unconditioned.  So I don’t want to be that rookie.

Not only that, I want to get back on the basketball court.  There’s a lot that John Noonan and I?? John Noonan has been my trainer since second grade.  He’s talking already about NCAA Tournament and things that he saw, and things I need to work on already.  So whatever he has me do, I’ll do.
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Skylar Diggins

Q.  Just two questions:  One, have you finished your degree requirements and what’s your degree in?  And two, this draft has been compared favorably to the 2004 draft that had five first?rounders that eventually played on championship teams and eight players are still in the league.  Have you thought about this class possibly having that same kind of impact somewhere down the road? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Well, let me answer your first question.  I am currently working to finish my degree.  I don’t have very long to go, but I do have some classes that I have to finish up.  And I’ll be headed back to do that soon.
And secondly, there’s a huge buzz surrounding this class, and that class that you mentioned was so talented, the class before us.  We’re looking forward to the WNBA and the huge buzz surrounding it and our potential in the league, and to make an impact and to make fans watch and put butts in those seats.

Q.  Really enjoyed your look?in with the Tulsa fans. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I had a great time.  They’ve won me over already.

Q.  Have you ever owned a pair of cowboy boots or are you going to buy some quickly?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots, but then again I’ve never really been outside of South Bend.  So I’m open to new things and I look forward to buying my first pair.

Q.  Is that pretty high on your list?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Absolutely.  It’s about No.2, actually.

Q.  What’s No.1? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Finishing my degree.

Q.  You are close personal friends with Candice Wiggins?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Absolutely.  She’s one of my best friends.

Q.  How did that develop?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Well, I actually got into Stanford and I went to go visit and she was one of the speakers there, and she’s so many classes ahead of me, but she’s only 26 years old.  So we became really good friends and she’s really kind of taught me the ins and outs of college basketball, and she’s somebody that I really grew up admiring at Stanford, and now she’s taught me the ins and outs of the WNBA and what to expect. So just having somebody like that who’s been through it before and a familiar face in a new city.

Q.  That’s going to be a huge?? as a rookie going in, you could go in with not that much of an advantage for you.  Can you talk about that?  I mean, that is a huge advantage for you, isn’t it?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Absolutely, just having somebody that’s a veteran that’s been through so many years in the league and has won a world championship and just players that have done so much and been to where I now am but has done so much on this world level.  I think it’s great, with players like Candice and Nicole Powell and a lot of the players they have there who’s been able to have so much success at pro levels.

Q.  You were asked a question about the Shock you rattled off about seven names. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I probably could do that for about all 12 rosters.  I’m such a huge fan of the league and I always have been, and it’s such a dream come true to be a part of the league finally and now have my opportunity in Tulsa to do some great things, so I can’t wait to get there.

Q.  Tulsa was something like 18 and 80 the last three years.  Could you talk a little bit about how do you change that trend, and what are the challenges of getting to know your new teammates in such a short period of time before you guys hit the court for games?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Well, the good thing is that at this point we’re all pros, and they know the game, it’s just a matter of us getting in, settling into a system.  I think we have all the right pieces.  We have a lot of players that are skilled at the different positions, and you have a coach who’s just excited about the future of this team, and I think that’s where it starts.  I think Tulsa made some great moves with Nicole Powell and Candice Wiggins, and I hope to just go in there and have the same impact like I did on Notre Dame.  I came in freshman year, they lost in the first round, and everyone’s competitive nature I think now everyone has a sense of urgency, and it’s going to be great.

Q.  Tulsa in the off season, they let their top two point guards and scorers in Ivory Latta and Tameka Johnson walk and go sign elsewhere.  Does that give any added pressure to you knowing that they’re counting on you to be the point guard and be the scoring threat as well as a play maker?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Like I said, they’ve got Nicole Powell who’s a great scorer and shooter and another great shooter in Candice Wiggins, so they definitely surrounded me with great shooters.  I think that Coach Klopp understands that my strength is getting in a position where I can create for my teammates and he put some great shooters around me and some great scorers around me.  You have players like Kayla Pederson who can work the pick and pop a little bit and they you have other players like Glory Johnson who runs the floor so well.  So I think that Coach Klopp did a great job of just surrounding me with great shooters and putting me in a position to be very successful.

Q.  How much have you followed the Shock as they’ve kind of?? been kind of climbing out of the hole the past few years, especially when it comes to just winning ways.  They definitely improved a lot last year.  How much have you followed their growth over the past few years?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I follow the league very well.  Obviously I haven’t got a chance to see them play on TV a lot, but I definitely follow them, and not as closely as maybe some other teams, but I think, like I said, they’ve done a great job of bringing players in who have been there and done that before, and the experience that they’ve added and just great shooters, and I think like I said, everyone has a sense of urgency right now that I think is a great formula to win games.

Q.  How much pressure does that take off you knowing that there’s a lot of good players in positions, they know their roles and they’re veteran players? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  A lot.  I would imagine.  I still have to go out there and bring it.  But it’s great having, like I said, veterans who have been there and done so much in the league, and I know that with having Candice there, just a familiar face and at least one person that I know to welcome me with open arms and I look forward to meeting the rest of the team and getting out on the court with them, I think that’s so crucial with the time constraints that we have before we start.

Q.  You’ve had tremendous success at Notre Dame the past few years, but obviously Tulsa hasn’t had quite the same winning success.  How do you go in there and take that winning culture that you’ve experienced the past few years and try to impart that with your teammates in Tulsa?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Just being competitive, going in there with a competitive nature and a work ethic, and I think that a lot of these players have the same work ethic as I do, and I think that when we come together, it’s going to be great.  And I think that I want to come in there being a leader.  I know I want to come in there being a leader.  But at the same time you have to respect the players and what they’ve done.  So really just doing anything that I can and being competitive and working hard and challenging my teammates and likewise, just making sure we’re getting better every day.

Q.  I was trying to find out, do you feel like you’ve conquered that talk about you can’t go to the right anymore as far as when you’re going in for a lay?up?  Everybody always wants to say basically that you’re going in mostly to your left. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I don’t care what they say.  You’ve got to stop it first.  I’ll take it left every time.  Yeah, definitely, that’s been a point of emphasis for me in my final year and really my whole college career is attacking along the right side.  I mean we started a lot of our offense along the right side of the court.  I bring the ball down the right side of the court a lot.  When I attack, I think it’s an advantage to be left?handed because I think that’s tougher to guard, and that’s a lot of the reasons why I use the left side of the court to attack.
But I definitely can go both ways.  It’s just such an advantage being left?handed, I think you kind of confuse the defender a little bit.

Q.  Have you heard anything from any companies about any endorsement deals yet? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  That’s something you’ll just have to wait and see.

Q.  What type of impact do you anticipate making on the Tulsa Shock for your very first year?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Like I said before over and over, I just really want to go in and do whatever is asked of me.  I want to bring in that competitive nature and that work ethic that I’ve had throughout my whole career and just continue to be the leader and floor general that I’ve been at Notre Dame.

Q.  It’s not just the city of Tulsa that’s excited, the entire state of Oklahoma is glad that you’re on the way. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Thank you.

Q.  You are a great player on the offensive end but you’re fun to watch on defense, as well, you seem to never give up on a play.  Talk about the impact that you believe you can have for the Tulsa Shock on the next level, on the defensive end. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Well, I love to get up and get on the ball and you have such skilled ball handlers at this level, but just putting pressure on the ball with a 24?second shot clock and the eight?second backcourt it’s going to be a great tandem with Candice Wiggins and I.  You know she loves to pressure the point guard, and I think we both have the same mindset, and you might see a press in there, you could see a run and jump, and I love getting on the ball and so does she, so I’m excited about the opportunity to have those chances with her and be defensive minded.

Q.  That’s been another thing you’ve talked about all night long is that you can be a leader on the court but you bring up your teammates over and over again, and that’s got to have an impact then on the players that you’re going to be suiting up with. 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  You have to come in with a level of respect for the players who came before you and kind of paved the way for you.  At the same time you want to win games, so we’ll have our Kumbaya moment.  I’m always pulling to be on my teammates’ side and to praise them, and I love the players?? you have to think within a matter of minutes I went from being a fan to wearing a different hat and becoming teammates.  So I still am in my little kid giddy moment.  But I know that these players are competitive and they want to win.

Q.  In the last year or more you’ve kind of been the unofficial social media queen of women’s basketball.  Is that something we can expect to continue?  And second, is there one thing you can pinpoint that Coach McGraw has done to help you prepare for this next level?
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  I’ll continue to be on Twitter, that’s for sure.  That answers that question.  I don’t know about social media queen and that title, but I’ll definitely continue to be on social media.  And Coach McGraw has done a great job developing me as a player.  I came to the University and I wasn’t a point guard and she and coach Neile Ivey turned me into the player I am today, and it’s because of how much she was on me.  She told me the God’s honest truth and she made me work hard.

Q.  You’ve been such a fan of the WNBA and followed it so much, and I know this moment had to be special.  Can you just elaborate now that this moment has happened what was that like for you?  What were the emotions? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  It was surreal, such a great moment, and I’m so blessed, like I said.  It was a dream come true and I’m so proud to now be a part of the league that I grew up watching and paved the way for me.

Q.  What have you heard about Tulsa, and is there anything that you might be looking forward to doing outside of just playing basketball in Tulsa? 
SKYLAR DIGGINS:  Well, I heard the steaks are good.  I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve never been to Tulsa, I’ve never been to Oklahoma, but then again, I’ve never really been outside of South Bend.  So this is going to be a new experience for me, and I’m hoping as I continue to spend my time there I’ll learn more about the city, and that’s what I’m most looking forward to.
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