Interviews

Published on November 3rd, 2018 | by Landon Buford

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Jenny Boucek Shares Season Expectations With Mavs & Her Time In Seattle

Photo Credit – Elaine Thompson, AP

Earlier this summer the Dallas Mavericks hired Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach. Jenny Boucek is the first woman to hold an assistant coaching position in the franchise’s 38-year history. Her primary duties with the Mavericks will focus on player development, as well as, special assignments.

Prior to Boucek accepting her position with the Dallas Mavericks, she was a part of the Sacramento Kings coaching staff. Kings head coach Dave Joerger hired her to be the player development coach, and said “I wanted to pick her brain, especially because she has such a good feel offensively,” Joerger said, “and she has head coaching experience, which I value greatly. She can be contrary, and by that I mean she will challenge you. She is not into group think, because group think is death.”

Before joining the Kings coaching staff, Boucek served as an assistant and head coach in the WNBA for nearly two decades. She was the head coach for the Sacramento Monarchs from 2006-2009. The team would later fold after the Maloof family announced that they would no longer operate the team. She was later hired as the head coach of the Seattle Storm from 2015-2017.

Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle gave Boucek high praise before the season. “I consider her one of the brightest minds in our game and welcome her to Dallas.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Jenny Boucek about her own personal goals for this season with the Mavericks. Also, she shared her thoughts on the Seattle Storms most recent championship run.

You were a part of Anne Donovan’s coaching staff that won a WNBA Championship in 2004. What was she like as a coach, and what are some of her teachings that you have incorporated into your own style?

I think to sum her up as a coach, she was fiery and intense and like Pat Summit. Anne brought that intensity to any culture that she was a part of, just very high standards of excellence. She would also hold the people around her to the same standards regarding work ethic, competitiveness, and she was a player at the highest level. So, Anne had a great understanding of what her players were feeling and going through. I also think she was unique as a coach because most of your coaches are guards, and she was one of the best post players ever. This allowed her to see things from that point of view and that was unique. It also made our relationship very complimentary because it allowed me to learn from a forward perspective, and from her a guard’s perspective.

The Seattle Storm recently won their third championship behind the leadership of Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Jewell Loyd. From a coaches perspective can you talk about being a part of the process that ultimately led to this achievement?

I’m so happy for those players in particular Sue Bird!  When the franchise came to the realization that the group of players that we were showcasing had run its course, and it was time for a complete rebuild. That decision was made from the top down, in which Sue and I were heavily involved. I was asked to be the head coach and Sue was asked to lead in the locker room.  We had a lot of internal discussions about whether this was something we wanted to do, and if she wanted to stay and go through the rebuilding process. After being a part of two championships, we decided to go through with it.

So, it is very exciting to see. Even though I wasn’t part of the final step, to lay out the plan for our owners and GM. They did ask me to help with a strategy to get the team back in championship contention, as quickly as possible. That was my role and some of it is in your control and some of it is not. But thankfully things went as well as could be expected, as far as going according to the plans. We knew it would be a 3 to 5-year process to get back in the hunt, and it took four years to win it.

Do you think the Seattle Storm would have drafted Breanna Stewart if Lauren Jackson was still playing?

No! When you have Lauren Jackson on your roster and healthy, you are in Championship contention. It was one of the reasons why our rebuild was more difficult than it would have been otherwise. During the last couple of years in Brian Agler’s tenure in Seattle, we knew when Lauren came back healthy with the right pieces around her we had the Championship in our, grasp.  So, that was something the organization was hoping for, but that did not happen. The organization had to really start over from scratch with the exception of Sue and acquire young talent.

Lauren Jackson is slated to be a part of the 2021 Hall of Fame class, that will also feature Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. As someone that coached Lauren, what was her leadership style in the locker room?

Her leadership style was mostly on the court. Sue and I sat back and told each other stories all the time and reminisced about the way Lauren would “Wow Us” on a regular basis. In practice, during games, she would just do things that no one else could do. She led us in that way and was very consistent when it came to her work ethic during drills in practice, and in games. There was never an off button for Lauren, she was competitive. That is the way she led, but when Lauren spoke in the locker room, which was not very often as everyone listened.

Breanna Stewart and Lauren Jackson would draw comparisons all the time with each other as both are stretch fours, and could play the center position If needed. As someone that coached both, can you describe the similarities and difference between the two when it comes to game preparation?

They are both very similar. I think Stewie is more likely to watch film and talk things through and Lauren just wanted to play. Lauren did not want to talk about a lot of things beforehand she just wanted to get to the gym and shoot.  So, she would put up hundreds of shots, while Stewie is a hard worker, but she wants to talk about things on a strategic level and watching film. They are very similar in the way they play, I think Lauren had a little more power on the inside, and Stewie is a little bit better with her dribbling skills than Lauren. Lauren was a 40 percent three-point shooter, and Stewie goal was to get around that percentage. I don’t know what her shooting percentage was this past season. Lauren was a little bit better down low and Stewie is better with her dribbling skills, but versatility is what makes both of them so special. They are both high level competitors, crave pressure, are champions, and great teammates. They are kind of teammates that players want to play with and they are both winners.

Key Arena will be under renovation fairly soon, which means the Storm will play all their home games at the University of Washington. Can you share a couple of your favorite memories at Key Arena?

We would always joke and say Key Arena has a heartbeat. Anyone who has ever been a part of a big game there and the biggest game for us was game 3 in 2004 at home, and when we won on the road in 2010. In regards to the game in 2004, I have been in a lot of big games, arenas, and I have been coaching, professional basketball for 19 years (NBA & WNBA), thus far that has been the best game atmosphere I have ever experienced.

When we would go on a run with great teams you could feel the arena come alive as we were burying other teams. It would make you as an opponent, it messed with your mentality. I have gotten to experience that side as well. The game in 2004, you were not able to hear a person speaking that was two feet away from you, it was that loud. There have been other arenas that were loud, and you could hear it, but when Key Arena gets loud, it’s a vitriolic experience. It is not just about hearing something, you feel it as well. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Did Tina Thompson reach out to you and  ask for advice after accepting the women’s head coaching position at your Alma Mater The University of Virginia?

We spoke right after she got hired at great length and talked about the history of the program and the culture on campus. This will be the first time that she will be a head coach, so I offered my services to her, as someone that has coached her, coached against her, and played against her in college. So, we know each other very well and I told her I would help her with anything that she or the program needed, and  to feel free to reach out. She is the ultimate competitor, and sharp. The alumni base and the individuals that know her are fully aware of what Tina Thompson can bring to the table. We are very confident that she will bring the program to the next level.

A couple of weeks ago we were saddened by the news that former Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen passed away. Can you talk about what he meant to the City of Seattle?

Paul Allen made the City of Seattle a better place in so many ways, whether it was his ingenuity with electronics and technology, philosophic efforts that he spearhead, or his contribution to professional sports it all added to the quality of life in the city.  In every possible way, he contributed to the City of Seattle becoming one of the premier cities in the world to live in and visit.  Paul Allen was a huge component he touched the city from every possible angle that you can imagine.

Currently, you are an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks, with a focus on player development. How has the transition been for you as a whole?

It has been smooth and it has been a blessing to get to continue what I love, which is coaching. I get to service these young men by helping them to become better players on the basketball court. When you talk about NBA & WNBA you are talking about some of most competitive and intelligent individuals the game of basketball has to offer. It is a total blessing to be a part of it and work on basketball all day and every day with the best of the best.

How has becoming a mother helped your outlook on coaching?

It has given me “some much needed balance and motivates me to continue to do things that keeps people first, which has always been a priority of mine”. Instead of getting more caught up in wins and losses, positions, and job security, focus on people. It is an opportunity to put people first in my daily routine and help them reach their maximum potential. I think she helps continue to reinforce that perspective and the gifts that were given, we can pass them along to others.


Sue Bird is about to enter into her 17th season with the Storm. Do you see her playing into her mid-40s and do you think she will with play the mask for the rest of her career like Richard Hamilton did?

Gosh, you would have to ask Sue that, it might lose its superhero effect if she decides to wear it every game. I think Sue will play, hopefully through the next Olympics that is what I would hope, of her being as I am one of her good friends. Playing for her country is very important to her and I think she has been through the rebuild period in Seattle.  She deserves to reap the reward from all the sacrificial time and work she put in during the rebuild. So, hopefully, she will get the opportunity to enjoy the other side of the rebuild and possibly win a couple more championships in the process. That is what Sue thrives on winning and she put that to the side during the rebuild period and it was very selfless of her. It speaks a lot to her character.

What are your expectations for this season as a coach?

I’m still continuing to try to learn this league and I think the best coaches are always wanting to learn. John Wooden was a good friend of mine and he always used to ask me every day that we spoke until the day that he passed away “Jenny what are you learning, what did you learn today?” and into his late 90s I would ask him back, he always had an answer. That is something that I will never forget, to keep learning every day of my life. I want to learn about being a better leader and become an asset to any organization that I am a part of, which right now is the Dallas Mavericks.


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About the Author

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, What's Trending's CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.



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