Many WNBA superstars agree: When it comes to man-to-man defense, attitude matters just as much as athleticism.
The Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry developed that lockdown-defense attitude growing up in Baltimore. And her past always keeps her focused on the present when playing defense.
"It goes back to growing up for me, playing defense on the playground, thinking 'I'm not going to let this guy score on me.'" McCoughtry said. "It's keeping your man in front of you. It's mental--your brain tells your body what to do."
A 2010 WNBA All-Defense team honoree, McCoughtry is statistically one of the top players in the league in steals. She credits Tamika Catchings as the toughest player to guard in the women's game.
"She's so hard-nosed...she's going to give it to you," McCoughtry said. "She doesn't make it easy. Whatever she does, she's going to make you work hard to stop it."
McCoughtry's attitude on man-to-man defense is echoed by several other stars in the league, including New York's Cappie Pondexter. While Pondexter is known more for her scoring, her defense is something she takes pride in.
"I just think about not getting beat, not letting the opponent beat me," Pondexter said. "That's the only thing I'm thinking: Shut this person down."
Indiana's Tamika Catchings has a simple approach to playing man-to-man defense.
"Don't let them go where they want to go," Catchings said. "It's about knowing the team defensive scheme and pushing them in the direction that I want. It's important to know player tendencies, and pick up on them every time you play."
Not always easy, especially against some of the best scorers in the league. Pondexter knows this all too well. Ask her who the toughest player to defend is, and she points to a former WNBA MVP.
"Diana Taurasi is the toughest," she said. "Her release is so quick and she can shoot from so deep. It's hard to figure out where to stop her because she can drive, too."
So how do you stop a multi-talented player like Taurasi?
"Just stay aggressive and give it your all. Your best," Pondexter said. "Whatever happens, happens."