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Originally published August 12, 2013 at 6:24 PM | Page modified August 12, 2013 at 8:17 PM

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WNBA Talk: Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes

San Antonio coach Dan Hughes talks about his love for Jimi Hendrix and his team’s plans to play on a pink basketball court this week.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Editor’s note: Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with San Antonio coach Dan Hughes, whose team will play on an all-pink court Saturday at the AT&T Center against the Phoenix Mercury for its annual Breast Health Awareness game. The court design, which is painted by local breast cancer survivors, is a first for the WNBA.

Jayda Evans: This is different, watching “Just Shoot Me” before playing the Storm.

Dan Hughes: Anything that’s distracting. I don’t like to think about the game right before, I kind of want to be fresh. It helps me to have conversations or listen to music.

JE: Yeah, you’re a Jimi Hendrix fan. Is he on the iPod since you’re in Seattle?

Hughes: You know, I have a Jimi tie with me! I’ve never worn it; I pulled it out when I came here. It has Jimi on a motorcycle and says “Jimi.” It’s made by Ralph Marlin. I wear a lot of his ties. But I’ve been listening to the Beach Boys a little bit, REO Speedwagon and Marvin Gaye.

JE: This season, you’re like Seattle in missing your big stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young due to knee injuries. Considering Phoenix fired Corey Gaines for having talent and not winning, should you and Brian Agler be in the running for coach of the year for the jobs you’ve done without superstars?

Hughes: In Seattle’s case, Brian knew Sue and Lauren weren’t coming, so he built a core to work with. And where Seattle has done a good job is from a leadership standpoint. Tina (Thompson) playing like she has has really sparked that situation. I don’t like our situation because of the injuries. But what I do like is players have to take on roles, where if we do get to a point in the future where we’re all back, the younger players have grown.

JE: So, you’re going to play on a pink court Saturday. What do you think about that?

Hughes: It was a unique idea when I first heard it. It’s a wonderful idea because we’ve had such a great relationship in San Antonio with Breast Health Alliance. We’ve typically raised some of the top money in the WNBA, $40,000 or more. And (Hall of Fame college coach) Kay Yow was one of those people I’m so glad I got to know. Kay would come for that game before she died (in 2009 of breast cancer). We played L.A. one year and Kay was there, and I asked her if she would come talk to the team. It was so powerful we took some of her statements and put them on our walls. We’ve just had a real strong affiliation with that day.

JE: What was a quote you put on your locker-room wall?

Hughes: She looked at the team and said, “When life kicks you, you let it kick you forward.” We just took that and stuck it on our wall. It’s been there since 2008.

JE: You coached some of her NC State players, but how did you get to know her?

Hughes: My first year in Cleveland (with the defunct Rockers) we did a college game at our arena and had a Q-and-A-type thing with me, Kay and Pat Summitt. Here I am, a young coach, and I didn’t realize how special that was — that those two women were sitting with me. I had been in women’s basketball for two years! Kay was just a wonderful person. She ingrained a lot of the breast health awareness day in us and the community got behind it. Now it’s going to culminate in that pink court.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.

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