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Shoni Schimmel Will Start for ATL Dream; Jude 'Will get Picked up…'

Shoni Schimmel’s record-setting, MVP performance in last year’s WNBA All-Star Game proved to the world that she is a rising star.

Now, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla guard heads into her second season with the Atlanta Dream, ready to rise to new heights. ICTMN caught up with Dream head coach Michael Cooper for his thoughts on Schimmel as she prepares for the 2015 WNBA season.

For the second year in a row, you have drafted a guard in the first round. What are you looking for in the backcourt, and how does Shoni Schimmel factor into that?

With Samantha Logic [first round pick] and Brittany Hrynko, we can use them in terms of scoring and defense to take a load off of Shoni. Now we can let her play anywhere from the [point guard] or the [shooting guard] or we can essentially move her down to the [small forward] spot.

What are some of the things Shoni has to improve on?

The biggest thing she needs to improve on is her defense… because at this level, the players are fast and quick and athletic. What Shoni has in her favor is that her basketball IQ is very high. She can apply pressure, and stay between them and the basket, but we never put her out there on an island by herself. My teams always play team defense, so she’ll always have help.

Did she live up to expectations in her rookie season?

Shoni lived up to all the expectations as a rookie. I know one of the goals she wanted to accomplish was to be Rookie of the Year. But that didn’t happen because I tend to bring players on slowly. But you know what? She was MVP of the All-Star Game, and what better stage to show that you can play at this level?

RELATED: Jude Schimmel Not Drafted, Talks of Managing Her Sister Shoni’s Career

Will she be moving into the starting lineup?

Right now Shoni is our starting guard…. for sure, her minutes are definitely going to increase. The biggest thing I’m looking for from her...is her basketball IQ, and her ability... [to make] players around her better.

Was there any consideration of reuniting the Schimmel sisters and drafting Jude Schimmel with the 34th pick overall in this year's draft?

There were some thoughts. But looking at the way things were going, we weren’t looking to add another guard at the same spot. We looked for someone that could play multiple positions and that’s the reason we didn’t look to her sister. I’m pretty sure [Jude] will get picked up by someone, and be a good player in this league very soon.