Wednesday, June 23, 2010

'D' unpluggled

Coach Taurasi. Imagine that.

According to Diana Taurasi herself, that's all not too far-fetched for the reigning WNBA MVP and Phoenix Mercury guard after her career is over.

"Yeah I definitely would," Taurasi said Wednesday. "I think coaching is something I would love to do. I’ve been around some great minds of basketball that have taught me a lot. Being a coach is a tough thing, though. You have a lot of responsibility. It’s something I would be interested in. ... But you never know down the line. I might hit the lotto and move to Italy.

"How hard can it be? Look at him (UConn coach Geno Auriemma)," she added jokingly. "You just gotta be able to recruit. So I just have to hire CD (UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey) and I’d be OK."

Taurasi was her usual sarcastic, witty self on a wide-ranging conference call with members of the Connecticut media. She touched upon everything from the Mercury's current season ("up-and-down," she called it) to Sun rookie Tina Charles ("She really is playing unbelievable basketball") to to the state of women's basketball and her own career.

"These players have been going overseas for the last five years, not having a break, and you’re seeing a lot of injuries and a lot of tired play out there sometimes," she said. "It’s going to be a serious decision (about taking time off) people are going to start making. I know I’m getting really close to it, too, and I’m going to have to sit down, look at the calendar and really take time off to heal."

Taurasi was asked if taking time off from the WNBA, like many European players have, is an option.

"It’s always easier for the Europeans," she said with a laugh. "We’re hometown so if we did that, people would crucify us. ‘How dare you do that?’ But you have to look at your body and it takes a toll on you. Sometimes you need rest. I know I’m going to need it soon.

"There’s just no way your body can function for that long at that high level. You start to break down. You’re actually doing more of a disservice to your career by playing through being hurt and injured and tired. And a lot of players do a good job of going overseas halfway through (the winter season) but I’m going to have to sit down and really figure (it) out."

A reporter asked if a 15-year career is a reasonable estimate for Taurasi, which she called "realisitc." She's currently in her seventh WNBA season.

"If you think about it, the NBA guys that go 15, that’s a stretch and that’s with three months off every year," she said.

Taurasi, however, said taking time off from basketball overseas -- where she's made her WNBA salary multiple times over -- is less of an option for her.

"At this point, in my career right now, I don’t think I can do that, to take three or four months off," she said. "I don’t see that happening. Yeah, I think once I get to that point, I’m going to have to make a pretty firm decision of where my gap in time of rest is going to have to come from."

Taurasi also mused about life after basketball, which could include coaching (she almost said it half-jokingly most times) or a job in television, such as Sun guard Kara Lawson has.

"Hopefully Kara and I can host PTI together," she joked. "I’ve always been interested in that (TV). I love the game. I don’t see myself doing anything that didn’t concern itself with basketball. That’s the type of passion I have for it, whether it’s breaking down the game on TV or going out for coaching. Coach Auriemma will eventually have to retire."

Here's some other highlights from the call:

On UConn star Maya Moore, the expected No. 1 pick in next year's WNBA Draft: "She’s going to unbelievable. There are certain players that you just know once they get to the WNBA are going to be successful and turn another page, I think, in greatness. She has that ability. I know Coach Auriemma has talked to her a lot about me. She just seems so focused. That’s kind of inspiring to watch, even for me. ... I don’t see why she shouldn’t make the world championship team."

On Charles, who she'll play Friday when the Mercury visit the Sun: "The thing I like about Tina is she really is a hard-working, blue-collar, stick-to-what-I-know type player. ... She is just so relentless."

On her workout overseas, which last year started to include a personal trainer: "People always said, ‘I didn’t know you worked that hard.’ Well, yeah, you have to if you want to be competitive with the great basketball players. I just took a different angle with it to try to make myself better."

Taurasi added that watching Suns guard Steve Nash helped motivated her. "He was the one that I looked at and said, ‘You can get better. No matter where you’re at in your career, you can get better.’"

On still having fun on the court, a staple along with her colorful personality: ", that still has to be No. 1 on my list because if I’m not happy I’m not playing well."

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