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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Tina Charles could benefit from Jen Gillom's hiring

Tina Charles works against Connecticut Sun assistant coach Jen Gillom.
Following a grueling season overseas, reigning WNBA MVP Tina Charles was given a couple of extra days off before going to work at the Connecticut Sun training camp. However, sitting idly on the sidelines is simply not high on Charles' list of preferred activities. So during a break during the scrimmage portion of Tuesday night's practice Charles wandered onto the court. It wasn't long before assistant coach Jen Gillom joined her and what followed was a spirited couple of minutes of Charles trying to post up one of the top post players to ever play the game. Seeing the playful bantering combined with the aggressive attitude of both player and coach made it obvious that this could be a beneficial partnership for Charles.

Charles and Gillom have worked together before as Charles was a key member of the U.S. national team and Gillom was one of UConn and U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma's staff. Auriemma has been around the basketball coaching block a time or two so obviously he had Gillom work with the post players.

"The first time I met her was in 2009 right before that training camp in Russia," Charles said. "She definitely had an impact just talking to her and little things we will do off to the side, I just love working on individual skills."

Gillom, who has been a head coach at Minnesota and Los Angeles, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Washington Mystics. Charles averaged 19.2 points and 9.4 rebounds in five games against Washington during the 2012 season so Gillom has the added bonus of having not only coached Charles but also has coached against her. As good as Charles was during the 2012 season, Gillom believes there is plenty of room for her to improve.

"Tina is the type of player with all that she has accomplished in the last four or five years with college, her WNBA stint and all the accolades she has received, she is a humble kid who wants it," Gillom said. "She understands that if I settle now, if I am complacent now I won't get any better. She has room for a ton of growth and she knows that.

"She doesn't have to play with her back to the basket all the time, she knows she can improve in her face-up game, she can even extend to the 3-point line and if you get an MVP player who just plays with her back to the basket, can you imagine what her future looks like when she starts doing all these other things and hopefully that is something I can help her with because I was that type of player who was a versatile player and not playing with my back to the basket all the time. I think she is looking forward to that as well. She has said that to me several times 'hey, help me with my face up game and that is what we are planning to do is make her extend the court because with the defensive 3-second stuff not a lot of people are going to be able to contain her when she is facing up and driving to the basket when there is not a lot of help in the paint. Hopefully it will be to her benefit. Tina is the type of player who looks to improve, she wants to learn. She knows that she has a lot to learn and she wants that and that is what I am going to look forward to working with her. When you get players who have accomplished as much as she has accomplished, a lot of times they don't want to listen to you, they think they know it all and she is still young enough where she can continue to still go up."

Gillom said it is invaluable that Charles is not only the Sun's best player but perhaps its hardest working one as well.

"It says a lot for their team and I know that is why the Sun has had success in the past," Gillom said. "You get your stud working hard like that it is going to rub off on everybody else because she is your leader whether she is vocal or not what she does out on the court is going to rub off on a lot of these players. I think they appreciate that from her and I think that is what is going to continue to make this team better. All you have to do is continue to add pieces around her to make the team better and she is going to do her part. "



Anonymous Joe said...

It was almost breath-taking at times to see how much Charles improved from year to year and even during the course of a season while at UConn. I haven't followed her pro career closely, but if she keeps improving she will become one of the greatest women ever to play the game.

12:07 PM 

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