Catching Up With Canty

Dominique Canty's basketball talent has taken her from her earliest days of playing on the streets of Chicago to countries around the world. The former All-America guard for The University of Alabama, presently a member of the WNBA's Houston Comets, has been playing professionally since 1999.

During the June 26th win over the Seattle Storm, Dominique Canty broke the fourth finger on her right hand, temporarily interrupting a career type year. A July 20th visit to the doctor who surgically repaired the finger by inserting two pins, will determine her return date for this season.

A.P. Steadham, who covers Alabama athletics in the Northeast for 'BAMA Magazine and, caught up with the former Crimson Tide women's basketball star for this interview.

APS: Would you talk about some of your earliest memories playing basketball?

DC: That's a long time ago…I think I was maybe eight or nine years old. My brother, he was really into playing basketball on the playground. He played for an organized team which was called the Deacons. I used to hang out with him all the time. I would see my friends and we would go to the basketball court. My brother made sure he picked me to be on his team. I just took it from there. My first organized team, I really didn't play defense. They would play a zone and they told me to just stay down at the other end of the court. They would get the ball and throw it to me and I would score. So I averaged a lot of points back then and didn't play defense.

APS: What was the reason you continued to play basketball? What was the attraction?

DC: It was just the sport we all played growing up. It was either basketball, baseball or in the wintertime we played football in the snow. I think I liked basketball at the time a bit better. It was fun. It was something to keep me off the street and out of trouble. We used to go to the recreation center all the time and play. I just fell in love with the game.

APS: You have spoken about your brother influencing your life by introducing you to basketball. Who were some of your other major influences growing up?

DC: My parents of course. They taught me right from wrong and raised me right. They taught me good morals. My family all looked out for me when I was growing up. I am the youngest of five. It wasn't Michael Jordan or anyone else in the NBA. It was my family.

APS: What player or players did you try to emulate and why?

DC: Actually, I love Scottie Pippen because I thought he played both ends of the court very well. Everybody loves Michael Jordan. Who didn't love him? I think it was really Scottie Pippen because I just liked his all around game. I thought he was the only player in the league who had an all around game.

APS: Would you discuss your recruitment by Alabama?

DC: Everyone asks me that all the time. I ended up going down to Alabama because I had family in Troy, less than a couple of hours away. It was not a big deal for me to go down to Alabama. Actually, it slowed me down a little bit coming from a big city (Chicago), to a city like Tuscaloosa. That would slow anybody down. I knew Alabama was a great school. I think I first saw Alabama in the final four. I fell in love with the way Niesa Johnson (former UA All-America guard) played. I liked Coach (Rick) Moody's style of coaching. From watching on the television, I thought he was a really great guy. Assistant Coach Cheryl Littlejohn, at the time, she was the one recruiting me heavily also. I fell in love with both of them. When I took my visit I fell in love with the campus.

APS: What were some of your favorite memories at Alabama on and off the court?

DC: On the court, I liked the team and the chemistry we had. I liked Coach Moody because he was an offensive coach and I was able to take the majority of the shots (laughing). The team and the atmosphere was great. Off the court, we had fun. Coach Moody had us over all the time to play on the jet skis and ride the boat. We had fun and everyone bonded really well with each other. That is one thing that I really do miss.

APS: what were some of the adjustments you made when you began your professional career as a number one draft choice of the Detroit Shock?

DC: The biggest adjustment I think because I didn't start right away was I had to take a back seat and be a role player coming off the bench. In college I was used to being a key player, the go-to player. That wasn't me anymore and I had to accept that role. It took a long time for me to accept but that is why I am still in the league today because I learned to accept my role.

APS: Describe the transition period when you were traded from the Detroit Shock to the Houston Comets?

DC: It really wasn't difficult. When I was in Detroit, it was my third or fourth year and they converted me from a two guard to a one guard. When I came down to Houston, Coach (Van) Chancellor said he wanted me to play the point guard position because I could handle the ball well and make good decisions. It was a big transition for me because when you're a point guard, you're concerned about everyone being in the right position and getting the key players the ball. I think that was a really big transition for me. I had to learn how Coach Chancellor wanted me to play.

APS: During the off season for the WNBA, you have played overseas in Russia, Turkey and Israel. Would you comment about some of your overseas experiences?

DC: The country I liked playing in the most was Israel. A lot of people don't believe that because of what is going on now and in the past historically in the country. I think Israel is the best country I've played in because the country is Americanized. You have malls and clubs. Everyone over there speaks English. The whole atmosphere makes you feel like you're in an American city. All the other teams are fifteen or twenty minutes apart, so we were able to see other Americans. So that was real big for me. It wasn't a country that paid a lot of money, but some things you have to sacrifice to have a comfort level.

APS: Would you comment about being named the MVP of the Israeli league as a member of the Hapoel Tel Aviv team this past season?

DC: It was pretty cool. I felt like my old self again. It felt like my college days. Everything was on my shoulders. And the teammates that I had over there accepted it very well, because they wanted me to be the one to take over during the game and at the end of the game. They knew that if I was double teamed, I would get them the ball regardless because I am not a selfish player. They all loved me for that. It felt pretty good.

APS: Why did you choose to sign to play for a team (Wilsa Krakow) in Poland this off season?

DC: This will be my first time in Poland. I talked to a couple of people about the city (Krakow) and they said I would love it. Hopefully, their word is bond and they are telling the truth.

APS: What is the scouting report on Dominique Canty?

DC: Offensively, I like to penetrate and get others involved. I love the contact. Defensively, I am a good hard-nosed defensive player.

APS: You spent one off season as an assistant coach at Chicago State. Do you have any future aspirations to coach?

DC: I don't know if I would go back and coach again. There is a possibility. You have to deal with fifteen different younger personalities. They would come to you with different situations and I really didn't know how to handle each situation. I had a lot of fun doing it but at the time I was not ready for it.

APS: Would you talk about your experience being an intern in public relations for the Detroit Shock and Dallas Mavericks?

DC: At Detroit, I did some media guide things. Down in Dallas, I did a lot with the community and the schools. It was pretty fun for me.

APS: What are your future aspirations?

DC: At this point I am really not sure and I am deeply into playing basketball. I am trying to get into real estate, so that might be an option for me. I want to play as long as I can.

APS: Describe women's basketball as you entered the WNBA versus the present state of the league and the future of women's basketball.

DC: When I entered the WNBA, the league was not as talented. You knew which teams would win the games every night. The Houston Comets and the New York Liberty were the powerhouse teams that would win almost every time. Now, you can look at each conference and see how close the teams are in talent and determining the playoff positions. Every team has a well balanced all around team. Every night it's coming down to the wire and you don't know who will win the game. That makes it competitive and that's how it should be. I think there is younger, athletic talent that is helping to build the league. You can't help but want to see the next talent that's coming out of college now. I think the league will be around for another ten years.

APS: What would you tell a group of young people about pursuing their dreams?

DC: Always reach for your goals. Set your goals high. If you choose basketball, just practice, practice, every day. If its being a doctor, you have to study every day. Never give up on your dream. Continue to take the steps to reach your goals.

APS: As a professional athlete sometimes you are afforded the opportunity to meet interesting people …have you met anyone interesting that you would like to share?

DC: Growing up I watched Dawn Staley and I heard about Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. Its just fun to meet them, not just play with them. Back then I saw them on television play in college and they were great players. Now I'm playing with them and it's kind of crazy for me. To go from being young and star struck to being right there with them. I still can't get used to that though.

APS: What did it mean for you to wear the crimson and white?

DC: It means a lot to me. I still represent the crimson and white all the time. Like I said, I had the best time down in Alabama with Coach Moody. I just love Coach Moody as a person and as a coach. It just meant a lot to me for him to even recruit me.

June 28th conversation with some of Dominique's teammates after the Houston Comets vs. Connecticut Sun game

APS: Would you comment about your teammate Dominique Canty as a player and as a teammate?

Dawn Staley: I think first and foremost, she is a great person. She is pretty easy going and I think she is having an all-star year. I think she was sorely missed tonight. As you can see, she opens the floor up for us. She is able to create her own shot and get to the basket. She rebounds extremely well and is our most consistent defender on the perimeter. I am sad to see her out of the lineup for so many weeks with the injury.

Tina Thompson: I think Dominique, in my opinion, is a great teammate. She is very quiet but has her own quirky way about herself. She has a great sense of humor. She is very consistent. Most of the time she is defending the best player on the other team, so she has a tough assignment. Also, she moved from the two guard position, her natural position, to the point guard spot. She has become our multi-purpose player. She is our leader on defense. Whatever we have asked her to do, she does in stride. She keeps moving along. It says a lot for her personality. She is very smooth with everything. Even though she has been with our team a while, I don't think people have had the opportunity to witness all of her skills and talents. I think people have seen flashes of her slashing ability from the point guard position. She is literally unstoppable even though she is doing it from the point guard position. She has made the transition from the two guard to the point guard position and gladly accepted the change. Every time Coach Chancellor has asked her to do something new, she just tries it out.

Sheryl Swoopes: Obviously, what Dominique brings to this team was missed tonight. I think she was having one of her best seasons this year and I think the injury is unfortunate, not only for us, but for herself. She will be out for a while and we will definitely miss her. Offensively, she is one of the best players in the league at creating her own shot and getting to the basket. In my opinion, she gets fouled every time she goes to the basket whether they call it or not is kind of up in the air. I think she does a great job of penetrating and getting to the basket, penetrating and dishing to her teammates. I felt we definitely missed that tonight. Defensively, she usually guards the other team's best two or three perimeter player. She's very aggressive and attacks also on the defensive end. When you have a player like Dominique leading your team on both ends of the floor, you can't help but miss what she brings each night.

Michelle Snow: As a player, she is having an outstanding year. I think she is having one of her best years. She is my roommate on the road. She is a really cool young lady. She is laid back. She is a great person on and off the court. I really admire her for her work ethic and just how hard she plays every single day whether its practice or a game.

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