Throwback Thursday: Danielle McCray
June 21, 2012
Danielle McCray (Women’s Basketball) 2007-10
One of the best guards in Kansas women’s basketball history, McCray finished her four-year career as the fourth leading scorer in program history collecting 1,934 points before a torn ACL prematurely ended her senior campaign. The 2010 Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year was an All-America Honorable Mention selection in 2009 by the Associated Press and helped USA Basketball earn a gold medal at the 2009 World University Games. After her time with the Jayhawks, McCray, an Olathe, Kan., native, was the seventh overall pick in the 2010 WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun. She spent her first professional season with Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Women’s League while coming back from her knee injury before helping to guide the Sun to the 2011 playoffs in her first season in the WNBA. Now in her second WNBA season, the guard has started 31 of 45 games for her career and has averaged 5.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.
Now that you are in your second year in the WNBA, does it feel different not being a rookie?
“Yes, it is different. You’re expected to know more coming in and they treat you as a veteran now.”
What are your personal goals for this season with Connecticut?
“My goals are to be consistent and play my role for the team. I just need to be who I am capable of being. I need to stay consistent during every practice and game.”
What are the major differences between the professional level and the collegiate level?
“The pro level is faster and there is a lot more thinking involved. It’s also more instinctive and obviously the talent level is a lot better. You’re also on your own as far as when to eat. There is no pregame team meal or anything like that so you have to do a good job of knowing what to eat and when to eat. You have to be a professional and take care of you by yourself.”
The long seasons can be a grind, how do you take care of your body and stay in top shape?
“My coach does a good job with our practices; we are in and out of there fast. We don’t practice long at all, we just get in and focus on what we have to do and get out. But since I play overseas and in the WNBA I might only get two weeks maximum of just rest for my body. You don’t want to take too much time off because you don’t want to get out of shape so I get a lot of treatment done and treat my body right.”
Do you ever put in extra practice time on your own?
“Yes, today for instance I did extra cardio. If coach (Mike Thibault) doesn’t play me for very many minutes I get a workout in. I do a lot of extra shooting, weights and running to stay in shape and ready for when coach puts me in.”
What is it like living in Connecticut?
“It is very different. I go fishing a lot on my off days. New York is close and I go there with friends a lot. It’s quiet though, so you definitely get a lot of rest.”
What was it like seeing Kansas women’s basketball advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 this year?
“It was very exciting and I got a chance to watch it because I was at home at the time. I was very excited and it just shows how much our program has grown and it was good to feel a part of it. Carolyn’s (Davis) injury was a huge blow but they’re young and they have pride in their leaders. It is going to be cool next year when Carolyn is back and everyone steps up.”
What is your favorite memory from your playing days at Kansas?
“My favorite memory has to be when we played in the WNIT Championship game versus South Florida. Coming out to that huge crowd was really amazing.” (KU set a Big 12 Conference attendance record at the game with 16,113 fans.)
What advice would you offer to young women who dream of playing professional basketball one day?
“My advice is to always be consistent and never give up. I went through an injury and thought basketball was over for me but I never gave up and stayed focus. That’s another big thing… stay focused, and work hard. At this level you can always get discouraged. One night you play and the next you might not. I’ve learned to just control what I can control, never get discouraged and keep a level head.”
McCray’s WNBA Player Page: http://www.wnba.com/playerfile/danielle_mccray/index.html?nav=page
Throwback Thursday Archive: http://www.kuathletics.com/throwbackthursday.html