ATLANTA - Assistant coaches who are quietly going about their business rarely get much ink -- that is, until something dramatic happens.
When Atlanta Dream head coach and general manager Marynell Meadors was fired Aug. 27, all of a sudden assistant coach Fred Williams was not only thrust into a complex dual role, but also found himself in the middle of the latest Angel McCoughtry controversy. Williams suspended McCoughtry briefly before re-instating her for Sunday’s game, but putting that ongoing saga aside, here’s a look at the new man in charge in Atlanta.
Full Court Press: I know it is early yet, but is there anything that Dream fans can look for that will be different with Fred Williams at the helm of the Dream?
Fred Williams: I have been in the system previously. I am going to have a lot of things generated that we have done in the past. The foundation is set with the younger players that we have here. I want to see players work hard, play hard and have fun together on the basketball court.
FC: How would you describe your style of coaching?
FW: Very active, excited for my players when they generate energy on the floor especially on defense and see them finish up on offense. My style is having the team play with a lot of energy.
FC: I understand coach Meadors was good about delegating to her assistants. What were your duties as a Dream assistant coach?
FW: One was to evaluate talented players around the world in the offseason, and also help with the draft. During the season, it was more of the scouting and being the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Dream. Assistant coach Joe Ciampi did more on the defense and I did more on the offense.
FC: How did you originally became involved with the Dream in 2008 and what were you doing prior to that?
FW: I was doing some scouting for several teams in the WNBA and also for the NBA, scouting for the Utah Jazz and also for the Washington Mystics, and also for Indiana for a couple of games – and I had a basketball company in Southern California. As soon as she [Marynell Meadors] received the appointment, she gave me the first call and flew me in. We had dinner and she offered me the job and [I] pretty much took it [then].
FC: How do you think you have grown as a coach since your last head coaching [in 2006 with the San Diego Siege] position?
FW: I think being more poised about situations, with the players and with refereeing [with some of the calls you don’t get]. I learned a lot from scouting. In scouting, you see a lot and learn a lot of tendencies of what teams do.
FC: What are your thoughts about upcoming 2013 WNBA Draft?
FW: It should be a good crop of players coming out. The overview is something I am learning. I have always been out there watching players and scouting during the offseason for the Atlanta Dream.
FC: Do you anticipate filling the open coaching and operations slots of the Dream staff this season? If so, how soon?
FW: I haven’t even thought about that. I just want to remain focused on this team where we are now and toward the end of the season and end of the year when things cool down, we will really focus on filling those positions.
FC: Will you stay with what you have got [in regard to positions above] for the rest of the season?
FW: Most likely I will. I think we are on a good rhythm with our staff. The people we have are capable of handing multiple tasks.
FC: Going back to your days prior to the Dream, where did you grow up and go to high school and college?
FW: I went to Inglewood High School in California, where Paul Pierce [of the Boston Celtics] is from. Boise State is where I played in college. I was All-Big Sky and had a free agent look with the Utah Jazz. That is where I got to know Frank Layden. [former head coach of the Utah Jazz]
FC: Where was your start in the WNBA?
FW: For the Utah Starzz. I began as an assistant coach, and then Frank Layden had retired and I took over as head coach for them. Prior to coming here to Atlanta, I was the head coach for the San Diego Siege of the NWBL [a women’s basketball minor league that is now defunct].
FC: When you were at Utah were you general manager and head coach?
FW: Just a head coach. I was a head coach there for two-and-a-half years and assistant coach for two years prior to that. I was also an assistant coach for a couple of years with the Charlotte Sting with Trudi Lacey.
FC: Coach and general manager are two separate jobs. Do you like the idea of the combined position that most WNBA franchises use?
FW: It is a challenging position because you are dealing with contracts off the floor and then you are dealing with players on the floor so you have to have a mindset for that every day because you could be in the middle where you have to deal with a contract in the morning and still coach the [same] player that afternoon. That’s going to be a new experience for me.
FC: What’s your college background?
FW: I was at Southern Cal for about 12 years. I was the associate head coach under Cheryl Miller and then after she resigned/retired was head coach for two years. I coached the first player to ever get drafted by the WNBA (Tina Thompson).
FC: Did you ever coach Cheryl Miller or just work under her?
FW: I coached her [as an assistant] in the championship years of ‘83 and ’84, along with Cynthia Cooper and the McGee twins. I coached Lisa Leslie and recruited her to Southern Cal. Also, Adrain Williams was another WNBA player who went to USC [while I was there]. I’m still in touch with these people. I like that as a coach that players can come back and talk to you and get advice.
FC: How did you get into coaching?
FW: What got me really into it was working a camp for Linda Sharp at USC back in 1983 and she offered me a job. She said “I have $500 I can offer you.” I took it.
FC: But you’re involved with more than just basketball -- I have had the pleasure of listening to some of your music. Could you tell us how you came to be a recording artist?
FW: I got into it when one of my god-sisters bought me a keyboard about 20 years ago. I started playing it -- it was just natural for me. I started buying different instruments each year and different equipment. So one day about five years later, I said I was going to record a CD. I was really inspired by [the late] Wayman Tisdale, who used to play in the NBA and was involved in music. He gave up his NBA career to play bass.
FC: What types of music do you record?
FW: Contemporary jazz, R&B and also some pop.
FC: How exactly do you put together your recordings?
FW: It is a combination of instruments. I use Pro Tools recording.
FC: I believe your wife is somehow involved in music. How?
FW: She is a music and modeling agent.
FC: Any other hobbies of note?
FW: I like to wipe down the rims on my car, but I like to create music, that is really my hobby. I don’t touch it [creating music] at all during the season. I really focus on basketball and the business.
FC: Where do you live in the offseason?
FW: I live in Sugarloaf, Georgia. I have been in Georgia five years now since the existence of the Atlanta Dream.
FC: Looking back on your time with Marynell Meadors and the Dream -- you worked with the team since its inception -- how do you think people will look back on Marynell’s time here?
FW: She is a tremendous person, and a tremendous woman in the game of basketball. I really appreciate what she’s brought to the table for me and for the city of Atlanta. She’s a good person.
- Angel's wings are clipped; new coach suspends her indefinitely (after saying he didn't)
- Meadors out in Atlanta after McCoughtry misses games
- Dream tab Williams as coach/GM
- McCoughtry slips back into action