Shattered Backboard had a chance to sit down San Antonio Stars broadcaster Andrew Monaco to talk about the state of the team and the league as a whole.
Andrew Monaco is a long time San Antonio Stars broadcaster who has been present for many of the Stars memorable moments on the court. When he is not calling games for the Stars, he is the studio host and sideline reporter for the San Antonio Spurs. As the TV and radio voice, he has seen the Stars franchise go through many changes and has knowledge that few have. Shattered Backboard reached out to him for an interview about his insights and discussed Vickie Johnson, Ruth Riley and WNBA League Pass.
Shattered Backboard: Hi Andrew, long time Stars broadcaster, you have some perspective on the Stars franchise that few people have. I’d like to start off with your thoughts on the Stars rebuild, and the No. 1 pick. I know that the Stars are committed to becoming a team that is competitive in the WNBA and play at a high level. So, in your opinion, do you believe the rebuild is headed in the right direction?
Andrew Monaco: I do, as evidenced by their recent drafts, drafting players that serve as the foundation for the future – players such as Moriah Jefferson and Kayla McBride.
SB: You’ve seen Vickie Johnson as a player, then as an assistant coach, and now she is the head coach. What can you say about her that few people are aware of? Why do you think she is the best fit for the Stars as a head coach?
Monaco: VJ is a winner. It’s in her DNA. In New York, in San Antonio. I find it interesting that VJ gets to lead the turnaround for the franchise once again. I always felt that she was the key acquisition when she came to San Antonio as a free agent. I think she help set the culture. Look at every big play for the then Silver Stars. Then go back to all the big plays for the New York Liberty. VJ is involved. When she played with San Antonio, I called her Captain Late, using the nickname of the Spurs’ James Silas (whose number 13 is retired) because she was so clutch in the 4th quarter for the Stars. She was a coach on the floor. I was always intrigued by the huddle after the huddle following timeouts, when the players would gather after a timeout and talk together as they re-entered the court. I think the way she sees the game, understands how to be a pro, what it takes to compete and to win are just some of the reasons why she will succeed as a head coach.
SB: Ruth Riley has officially made some moves in the off season regarding the roster. This upcoming season, will be her first solo season as a GM (Dan Hughes was assisting her) Your thoughts on seeing Ruth Riley evolve into this role?
Monaco: I’m very glad she’s back with the Stars. Ruth is one of the smartest people I know. She is always learning. If Ruth does not have the answer, then she will seek out someone who does. She has succeeded everywhere she has been. That’s not a coincidence. Notre Dame, Detroit, San Antonio, not to mention what was being built in Miami. I think she knows what pieces it takes to win and will craft a winning team. Those teams do not win without Ruth. Impressively smart and I think she had a great mentor (if you will) in Dan Hughes, plus the invaluable resource for her … the personnel in the Spurs front office.
SB: The WNBA League Pass is a wonderful way for WNBA fans to catch games. However, many fans are subject to blackouts, etc. As a broadcaster, you’ve had to do solo broadcasts (no colour analyst) for WNBA League Pass. What are your honest thoughts on League Pass? And how can League Pass improve?
Monaco: Quality and reliability have to be excellent, especially if fans are paying for the product. It’s always a good thing when fans can watch as many games as possible. But I’m not sure the WNBA audience grows because of it. WNBA fans get League Pass, but not non-fans, and that doesn’t grow the game. The league used to mandate that every team had to do radio, preferably on the NBA team’s flagship station, but that was relaxed. On the plus side, teams are doing more TV games. Downside? I don’t think we get the bump from national games like other leagues do. It feels like it is just another program in the lineup.
SB: Can you share your best and worst experiences in the WNBA as a broadcaster?
Monaco: Best: all the people I have worked with on TV. I have been spoiled with my broadcast partners, beginning with Fran Harris, Marsha Sharp, Brenda VanLengen, along with former players Tai Dillard, Edna Campbell, Chantelle Anderson and Erin Perperoglou (Buescher). This past year, I enjoyed working with Ruth Riley. And not just the Stars but also some Austin Spurs (NBA Development League) telecasts. And I can’t leave out my friend, Dan Weiss. This summer, Matt Bonner joins me. After retiring, he joined Spurs broadcasting. We do pre and post game shows together, Austin Spurs D-League games, and Stars this summer. He is a great addition.
Worst: I guess when the equipment doesn’t work and having to do an entire broadcast on a cell phone, or a phone in general. Overall, though, I get to do what I love and do it with great people, so I’m pretty lucky that there have been very few worst experiences.
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SB: Finally, anything you want to say regarding the upcoming WNBA season? Any final thoughts?
Monaco: After all the player movement in the offseason, it’s fun to see how teams change and how things play out. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who can rebuild on the fly? In addition, I think the talent in the league is the best it’s ever been.
The WNBA Draft is this Thursday, April 13. Find out who the Stars pick at No. 1 and who will be in action for the San Antonio Stars when the WNBA tips off May 13.