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An Interview with Amy Jaeschke, Part 2

We continue today with Part 2 of our two-part interview with NU women’s basketball star Amy Jaeschke, who wrapped up her outstanding four-year career with the Wildcats about a week ago.

Now, she prepares for the April 11 WNBA draft, and should she be selected and make it through training camp, she would become the first Wildcat to play in the league. This mock draft, the only one I could find, predicts she will be selected with the first pick in the 2nd round, 11th overall, by the Minnesota Lynx.

I talked to Jaeschke about her thoughts entering the draft, her development as a basketball player under coach Joe McKeown and her basketball legacy at NU.

The WNBA draft is coming up in a couple of weeks. What are you doing between now and then to prepare?

The draft is April 11, and once I get back from vacation, I’m going to be lifting and working out, doing two a days, trying to keep in shape and just refine some of my basketball skills so I can really be ready for the next level.

Any speculation on your part on where you might end up?

Just in talking with people, there’s no way you’re going to know, unless you’re [UConn forward and almost-certain top pick] Maya Moore. I’m definitely not that, so it’s really just what team needs a post player like me, and hopefully they’ll draft me and I’ll make the team. At this point it’s too early to say.


What about playing overseas in Europe? A lot of WNBA players do that to supplement careers. Is that in your plans?

Yeah, I definitely want to do that. I’m actually very excited to do that. I think it’ll be a cool experience to go overseas and learn about a different culture and play for a team over there.


At what point did you start thinking that playing in the WNBA might be a possibility for you?

I think it was probably after coach McKeown arrived. After my sophomore year, I started thinking about it, but we still hadn’t had a lot of wins yet, so the basketball wasn’t the type of experience I wanted. But as soon as we started winning more and I realized I could compete on a larger stage, I started thinking about it and got really excited about the prospects of it. I just decided then that this is something I was going to try and work towards.


How has coach McKeown made you a better player?

Just going back to my freshman year, the only thing I wanted to do was shoot the ball. I hated contact. I never wanted to go down low and try to get easy layups. But when he first came in, whenever we would scrimmage during practice, he wouldn’t let me shoot outside. So if I did shoot outside, he wouldn’t count my points during a scrimmage. I really had to learn to play inside and compete down low with the physicality of it. Now as a senior, I’d rather be down low than shooting outside. He’s really developed me as a post player.


What was going through your mind three years ago when you heard the announcement that coach McKeown was coming? I imagine there was a lot of excitement on the team.

Yeah, it was kind of funny because a lot of us, we didn’t know him coming from George Washington. They sat us in a room, and said this is who we’ve chosen, Joe McKeown, and they read his credentials, said he’s been to the NCAA tournament X-number of times, hasn’t missed a postseason in 19 years, and just rattled off these crazy statistics about his career. As soon as we heard that, we knew he was a very well-respected coach in the women’s basketball world. We got pretty excited about it because we knew he was what this program needed.


Talk about him as a coach. What’s he like in the locker room, and what’s he like on the court?

He’s really intelligent when it comes to Xs and Os. Some of our defensive schemes are pretty outrageous and really out there, but they get the job done. It’s fun to just see him coach, because you can tell that he really loves to do it, so it makes it fun as a player to play for him because he’s so passionate about it. He’s obviously very active on the floor. He gets into it, yelling and throwing his jacket down and stuff. As players, we understand that he just wants to get the most out of us and really wants us to succeed because he knows how much we’ve put into the program, working out and getting better. He’s a very intense coach.


What’s going to be your favorite memory of Northwestern?

It’s definitely going to be the off the court moments, just hanging out with teammates during our traveling, some funny moments on the plane. Something like that. Just the times that I spent with my teammates.


Who’s the funniest person on the team?

Oh gosh, that’s hard, because our team is pretty ridiculous. I’d have to say, I think Meghan McKeown gives me the most laughs, and Meshia [Reed] is pretty funny, too.


You’ve said that you wanted to pave the path for future top players to come to Northwestern and rebuild the program. Looking back at your career at Northwestern, what would you hope your legacy is?

I just feel that there’s no reason we can’t be a Stanford or Duke. We have the academics, and everybody says, ‘Oh, it’s hard to get the players because they’re not smart enough to get into Northwestern.’ I just think the legacy I want to leave is that my senior class worked hard to get the ball rolling and make this program a better place.