Wisla Can-Pack Krakow are among the best sides in Poland again this year and that's no surprise.
Any team that has Candice Dupree is always going to be in the reckoning for titles.
Dupree gave basketball fans plenty of thrills in the six EuroLeague Women games she played this season.
The 24-year-old was so impressive that fans voted her to the Rest of the World team for the EuroLeague Women All Star Game in Paris on March 8.
Dupree, who played college basketball at Temple under the former USA Olympic gold-medal winning point guard Dawn Staley and also competes professionally in the United States with the Chicago Sky, gave this interview to Basketball World News for FIBA Europe.FIBA Europe: First of all, congratulations on making the EuroLeague Women All Star Game, especially when considering the number of quality players here in Europe from other continents. And even better,
|“||Outside of the basketball, I enjoy the travelling, going to different countries and seeing a lot of historical monuments.||„|
Candice Dupree: Thank you. It was definitely not expected because I didn't come over to Poland until November and then when the president and the GM of my team said, "Candice, you're on the ballot for the All Star Game," I was like, "Wow, I've only played in a couple of EuroLeague games (this season). And then to discover I will be one of the starters, well, I was pretty excited about that.
FIBA Europe: Looking at the six games you played in the EuroLeague Women, you were outstanding. What's been working for you this year in Europe? Your statistics certainly improved in the EuroLeague from last year. You averaged 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game compared to 9.5 and 6.3 last season.
Candice Dupree: I think I've been more aggressive, and we've also been playing more as a team this year. We have a lot of unselfish players on this team. There is also the comfort thing. I played here last year, so I knew what to expect coming into this time. I'm feeling more comfortable on the floor with my teammates.
FIBA Europe: We were wondering how you are planning to dazzle us at the All Star Game in Paris.
Candice Dupree: (laughs) Dazzle you? I don't know. I can't dunk, maybe some alley-oop passes, lob passes, catch it on the run. I don't know.
FIBA Europe: We understand you play the saxophone.
Candice Dupree: I used to. I still do own a saxophone. The last time I played it was when I was probably in the eighth grade. Once I got to high school, I was strictly sports and dropped the instrument thing. I'm pretty sure that if I pulled it out, I'd be able to play it.
FIBA Europe: So your teammates don't ask you to pull it out and show them what you can do
Candice Dupree: (laughs) No, it stays at my mom's house in Florida.
FIBA Europe: Candice, what was it like playing for Dawn Staley when she coached at Temple?
Candice Dupree: She's a great coach and obviously a great player. That was one of the main reasons why I chose to go to Temple. By the time I arrived, she had been coaching two years prior to that. She's an amazing coach that turned the whole program around. By my junior year we were ranked in the top 16 in the country.
FIBA Europe: Did she help you become a much better player?
Candice Dupree: Absolutely. I don't think I was as aggressive as a player as I am now, going from high school to college. She definitely knew what it took to play at the professional level. In my junior and senior year, that was a big focus for me to try and get myself into the WNBA.
FIBA Europe: Tell us who the most influential person is in your life.
Candice Dupree: My mother. I know it sounds kind of cliché, but as a single parent she raised three great girls. I have a twin sister and a younger sister. She taught us to be independent at a very young age. She's in the military so she travelled a lot. We had to be at home, taking care of each other. But in high school and college she did her best to make it to every single game, and she has come to watch me in Chicago. She supports me in everything that I do.
FIBA Europe: Were you around in Chicago during all of the hoopla of Barack Obama's election to US President?
Candice Dupree: I remember him and his family coming to sit courtside once and watching one of our games. I wasn't there for the election, though (after travelling to Poland). I got to vote and watched the inauguration on television.
FIBA Europe: Do you enjoy playing two different seasons, in the WNBA and in Poland?
Candice Dupree: At this point in my career, it doesn't bother me and I think it's because I'm young. In going from college to the WNBA, to then going to Europe that first year, it does take a toll on you. But you get used to it. It doesn't bother me. You try to take some time off after the WNBA season and let your body rest and then come over. It doesn't bother me too much.
FIBA Europe: What do your family and friends back home think of you having a career in Poland? What do you tell them about living in Europe?
Candice Dupree: It's a good experience. My mom and grandmother came over here last year. Outside of the basketball, I enjoy the travelling, going to different countries and seeing a lot of historical monuments. I enjoy doing stuff like that. Some people may find that boring, but I have fun with it.
FIBA Europe: What about life in Poland? What about the food, and the kind of music that you listen to?
Candice Dupree: We actually eat a lot of Italian food in Poland. The Italian restaurants are great. There is a pizza place that we all go to, probably four times a week. Music wise, they do have hip-hop nights so we try to go out on a night when they are playing music that we're familiar with.
FIBA Europe: Was there a player that inspired you when you were a girl or in your teenage years?
Candice Dupree: Actually growing up, I wasn't much of a basketball watcher. I know my college coaches used to force me to watch it, but I wasn't watching for entertainment purposes - only to learn. Now I have no problem watching men's or women's basketball, whatever. But growing up, there wasn't anyone that I looked up to.
FIBA Europe: What's interesting is that you have a lot of fans, both in America and in Poland.
Candice Dupree: Absolutely. I am kind of amazed by that at times. After games, people ask me for my autograph. Here, all the young girls wait to give you high-fives after the games, or wait for you to sign shirts or books, stuff like that. For me it's great to see that young girls have players to look up to.
FIBA Europe: What would you tell those little girls who want to do what you do?
Candice Dupree: The biggest thing is not to let anyone deter you from what you want to do. I have a website (http://www.candicedupree4.com/) and people have an opportunity to ask me questions. They might be frustrated, for example, so the biggest thing is to be proactive and don't give up, or don't let people get in your head. Just work on what you do best, on the court.