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CAA-WNBA Q/A: Former JMU Duke Tamera Young

Aug 27, 2013, 11:29 AM EDT

CAA’s Tim McDonnell and other league staff members recently spoke with former James Madison Duke Tamera Young of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky prior to the team’s game on Aug. 20 versus the Washington Mystics in Washington, D.C.

source:  TM – It seems like this has been a fun season for you and the Sky. Your team sits in first place in the Eastern Conference, playoffs are coming soon…

TY – It’s always more fun when you’re winning, you know? Not as stressful. I think now that we set the pace for us to be in first place, we have the bulls eye on our back where everybody is coming after us. So our games are tougher than in the past. It’s a great season so far.

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TM – The CAA could be considered by some to be a mid-major. In the WNBA, really you’re going to play against players from the bigger conferences. What is the biggest difference for the players from conferences like the CAA to play against women from the bigger schools?

TY – They get more attention, the bigger schools. I think we’re a little bit more of the underdogs because we come from the mid-majors. Elena obviously made it farther in her career in college with the NCAA Tourney appearances, but just the fact that we’re in a mid-major and they (other players) don’t think it’s as tough as a conference as the ACC and the bigger schools. It might not be, but yet, it’s still… Just like when I was in college and Elena was in college, we’d have two or three people trying to guard us. Where as in the ACC and at the bigger schools, it’s almost one-on-one, like the league now. So I feel like it’s less pressure on us. The competition is much better, but you don’t have those two or three people hagging on you the whole entire game, so I think that’s one of the differences that they don’t really talk about much.

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TM – In my opinion, I’ve seen some examples of players in the WNBA who come from the top conferences and fade away after a couple of seasons. Not to down-talk those kind of players, but I think mid-major players have a different mindset and work habit. Is that the case?

source:  TY – I think it’s more so that. It’s almost like when you play those teams in non-conference you have that edge. They’re (players from bigger conferences) more of the talk and you’re already the underdog so it’s like you have to put in that extra work ethic to get that extra attention and recognition. I think that carries over for the league because like I said, the competition is better so you already have that work ethic instilled in you as a player and I think that helps us more.

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TM – I don’t want to go back too far down memory lane, but talk about your college career. Like Elena now, you left the CAA as the league’s all-time leading scorer and there’s definitely some comparisons between you both. It has to be cool knowing you each come from the same conference. Could you expand upon the types of competition you faced in the CAA and how it prepared you?

TY – I watched Elena, I didn’t go overseas this off-season so I was able to see more of her games. I’ve seen the same types of things that I faced when I was in school. At that time, I was one of the top players in the conference so people had a bulls eye after me. Two, three (players) trying to guard me and it was a big difference. After you do that and you come here (WNBA), where it’s almost like one-on-one, I think it was the same for Elena. I think it’s less frustrating.

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TM – Did you get to talk to Elena during the draft time? And/or did you get to joke around about JMU playing Delaware in the CAA?

TY – At first, I sent her a message on twitter, but it wasn’t trash talking. We talk junk a little bit, not much. The other day I saw a lady at the airport and she had a JMU hoodie and said ‘oh, I graduated from James Madison in ’08 and Elena was like, ‘ehhh JMU’ … haha. Just little talk like that. It’s all in good fun. It’s still a JMU family for me.

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TM – What kind of factors or changes do think have influenced the success of the Sky this season so far? It’s all starting to come together it seems like. You personally have a had a very productive season, talk about your own success.

TY – Hard work. Always had a knack for the gym, working out hard. I never wanted to be out-worked … I think Elena was almost like that missing puzzle piece we needed. She could play the 3 or the 4 and spread out where people can’t double-team Sylv (Sky teammate Sylvia Fowles) because they have to worry about her shooting the three. I think she added that piece that we were missing. With all the variety of weapons we have now I think everyone comes together.

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source:  TM – Do you ever talk to JMU people ever? Or stay connected with the Dukes?

TY – I talked to the coaches, some alumni and people write me on Twitter. I check Facebook, not as much though, but when I do, people still send messages. When I go out and see people with the gear on I’m excited and I say Go Dukes.

*All photo’s courtesy of CAA’s Niki DeSantis

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