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Published on November 8th, 2018 | by Landon Buford


Kristi Toliver Shares Expectations With Washington Wizards & Staying Sharp For WNBA Season


Photo Credit – Nick White

Kristi Toliver was a standout shooter at the University of Maryland averaging 44 percent from field goal range, 40 percent from three, 5.4 assists per game, and 15.0. During her four years in college and in case you are unfamiliar with Toliver hit a three-point shot off a high screen at the end of regulation against Duke to send the game into overtime during the 2006 National Championship Game as a freshman. The University of Maryland would go on to capture the National Championship in overtime with a 78-75 victory.

Following her senior year, the Chicago Sky would draft Toliver third overall in the first round of the 2009 draft. During her rookie season, she averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 assists, 1.4 rebounds, and 0.4 steals.  After her rookie season Toliver was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks before the start of the 2010 season.  In her first season with the Sparks, she would come off the bench as a back up to Ticha Penicheiro. Toliver would average 8.6 points per game in 34 games. After the 2012 season, Penicheiro would retire from the WNBA and giving Toliver the opportunity to start for the Sparks. She would also secure the WNBA WNBA Most Improved Player Award.

The following season, she would sign a multi-year deal with the Sparks.  Los Angeles would also acquire Lindsey Harding in the off-season, Toliver would move to start at the shooting guard position. Toliver would be named to her first All-Star team after averaging 14.1 points per game in all 34 games.

The sparks would decide to waive Lindsey Harding before the 2015 season, which allowed Toliver to slide back to the point guard position. In a game against the Tulsa Shock, now the Dallas Wings she dropped 43 points setting the franchise record in points. Surpassing the previous recorded that was set by Hall of Famer  Lisa Leslie’s 41 points. Toliver would finish the 2015 season, averaging 12.4 points per game.  The following season, she would help the Sparks win their third WNBA Championship in franchise history.  They would beat Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx 3-2.

In 2017, Toliver would move on from Los Angeles and sign with the Washington Mystics and join forces with Elena Delle Donne.  The Mystics secured a playoff spot as the number 6 seed in the league with an 18-16 record. In the first round elimination game, the Mystics defeated the Dallas Wings 86-76 advancing to the second round.  Mystics would beat the New York Liberty to advance to the Semi-Finals but would get swept by the Minnesota Lynx.

In 2018, Toliver would be named to the All-Star team and came up clutch for her team draining six three-pointers. She would average 13.9 points per game as the Mystics would reach the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but were swept by the Seattle Storm.

After the season it was announced last month that Toliver would be joining the Washington Wizards coaching staff. She will be focused on player development and is the first women in franchise history to hold a coaching position. Toliver is the fourth overall in the NBA history, joining Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs), Jenny Boucek (Dallas Mavericks) and Nancy Lieberman (Sacramento Kings).

I don’t think it’s a gender thing. I think any new coach in this league has to prove themselves and have to earn their way, and trust.  I think that goes for any new coach may be a little bit more if you are different or an international coach or a female coach or a former player. Then maybe it will take you a matter of time at the end of the day players in our league want to be great, win, and reach their full potential. Anybody that can help them do that they are going to respond to. I know Kristi knows the game very well she is an elite competitor. You can go back to her college career when she hit the big shot at Maryland in the Final Four. She’s clutch and she thrives under pressure and I have no doubt she will thrive in this situation.” Dallas Maverick assistant coach Jenny Boucek told me.

“Thrilled for the opportunity that Scott and [General Manager Ernie Grunfeld] and all these guys have given me,” Toliver said. “I’m blessed to be in the position that I am. As an active player and now an active assistant coach, it’s an honor. It’s something that I’ve worked for and that I’ve earned, so I feel good about that. The Wizards have been great, and I’m just super blessed with this opportunity.”

“We’re excited to begin the season with a revamped, versatile staff of coaches and trainers,” Brooks said in a statement. “We have a good mix of returning veteran NBA coaches, valuable new additions and promotions from within the organization that will help our players improve.”

“I’m hoping to learn as much as I can be around these guys every day. It has been a great experience, and I’m soaking it in. I just hope we can put together some wins and be part of a winning team. From a player or a coach, so, I’m just enjoying the ride, and hopefully, we can get some wins out it.” Toliver told me.

“I’m working being on the court with the guys every day helps me with my mind. So, I can kind of allow my body to rest; I would be overseas right now. So, I’m going to take advantage of the rest that I can get and at the same time staying sharp. I have been doing all the core works out with one of our assistant coaches and staying sharp in my skills in the things I want to get better at for the season. I’m very mindful that I’m still a player and have to stay on top of that.” Toliver told me.

“She is great and terrific. She has a great basketball mind and has a great spirit about her. She is going to be a head coach in this league one day. Kristi has the talent level and the work ethic. I tell her all-time don’t get into coaching full-time yet keep playing because that is the best job in the world.” Scott Brooks told me.





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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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