July 29, 2010
By Seth Rubinroit / Special to The Malibu Times
Players from schools like Pepperdine University that play in the West Coast Conference have not gotten a lot of opportunities in the WNBA. Even after leading the WCC in scoring and rebounding as a senior, Pepperdine forward Jennifer Lacy was passed over in the WNBA Draft. Nevertheless, Lacy kept her trademark positive attitude and tried out and signed with the Phoenix Mercury, becoming the first player from the WCC to make a WNBA roster.
This season, Lacy is playing with the Tulsa Shock and is having her best year. She is averaging a career high in points, rebounds and three-point shooting percentage.
"Jennifer has been really good for us," Shock head coach Nolan Richardson said. "She is our best three-point shooter right now and she brings experience that we did not have. She has worked extremely hard and we are very excited about what she has brought to our team."
Despite the success she has had on the court, Lacy's teammates preferred to praise her optimistic attitude.
"Besides the fact that Jennifer is extremely athletic and gifted, she is a really positive person to be around," Shock teammate Marion Jones said. "She has good energy. I am all about positive and negative energy, and whenever she comes into the room, her smile brings a lot of good to the situation."
Lacy spoke to The Malibu Times after a recent game against the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center.
What stands out most for you from your time at Pepperdine?
Probably the beautiful scenery, and my time spent with my teammates and coaches. There is a sense of family on Pepperdine's campus.
Coming out of college, you were not drafted. Did you ever doubt that you would make it into the WNBA?
No, I never really doubted it. I am one of those super-determined people. I was not drafted, but it did not deter me. It probably pushed me harder because I thought, `You guys do not think that I am good enough, so I am going to prove you guys wrong.' Sometimes it is nice to be an underdog.
In 2007, your team won the WNBA Championship. What did it feel like to win the title?
It was an awesome accomplishment. I was super-proud to be a part of that. It was an experience I will never forget.
Who is the toughest player you have had to guard in the WNBA?
Probably [Phoenix Mercury guard and 2009 WNBA MVP] Diana Taurasi, guarding her everyday in practice and playing against her now. She is an extremely talented player. But, at this level, everybody is really talented, athletic, and smart, or they would not be here.
What is it like to play for Coach Nolan Richardson?
It has been a great experience to play for him. His coaching style complements my game. He has a really free style of play that I have enjoyed so far. He encourages players to play to their strengths. It is the most comfortable basketball I have played.
You are averaging a career high in points, rebounds, and three-point shooting percentage this season. What are you doing differently this season than in the past?
It is really about opportunity; I am getting a chance to play. I am averaging the most minutes of my career, too. I am playing confident when I go out there, and I have a coach who believes in me.
What is it like to play with Marion Jones (a former sprinter who won five medals in the 2000 Olympic Games, although she was stripped of the medals after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs)?
It has been great. She creates energy. She is always positive, and she is very eager to learn. She is a breath of fresh air.
Jones is 34 now. Do you think that you could take her in a race?
Absolutely not. She is still incredibly fast. She is super-athletic, and she definitely still has it. She is the fastest person in the league. (To which Jones responded, "That is a stretch," laughing. "I could probably get out there up and down the court with the best of them, but I do not know about that.")
Being a professional basketball player has allowed you to play all over the world. Where was your favorite place to play?
China was probably the most interesting place that I have played in. I was in Beijing right after the Olympics, so I got to experience all that. Beijing was a great place, a wonderful organization to play for, and I loved it.
What did you learn from your father, (former Los Angeles Dodger) Lee Lacy?
Work has been in my blood from my family. He always said, `Work has peaks and valleys. You have your ups and your downs and you have to weather them both.