WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR GAME QUOTES
All-Star Quotes: West
Chancellor | Arcain | Bolton-Holifield | Griffith | Jackson | Leslie | Penicheiro | Stiles | Smith | Thompson
Chancellor: That's about it. Let the horses run today. Nice playing from Lisa Leslie; looked to me like she was on a mission. She wanted to make everybody know that they should have voted for her.
Griffith, Jackie Stiles -- our team just played well today. Wasn't it an exciting finish when the East came back? Got everybody up, cut it to five.
Q: Talk about keeping your first set of five and your second set of five virtually intact for the game.
Chancellor: That's easy. When Natalie Williams couldn't play -- I hated it for her, and the biggest headache I've had coaching the first two All-Star Games is Kevin and Scotty can't keep up with the minutes. Eleven to go into 10, so to speak, so every 10 minutes, he's like, "give me five."
This is the most enjoyable game of all; we're just working out how to get 11 players. Counting up the minutes, "How many minutes has she played? Well, give her another 10 minutes." That's impossible.
I like that, give me five. When you give me five, here are the five you give me: Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith. Not bad, not bad, Dixon, Stiles. Is that a five to call? That's coaching right there guys. That's just coaching. That's coaching up a storm.
Wasn't that crowd great today? Wasn't that crowd enthusiastic? They say, I get everybody around me saying, where is the WNBA going? They had 16,906, they enjoyed every minute, great fan support, all the halftime shows and everything and about two weeks from now somebody will say, "Is your league in trouble, Chancellor?" I get that all the time. Don't look to me like it is in trouble today.
Not only the crowd, they come to play. They cheered that East. They just couldn't bring them through. Next question.
Q: Leslie in the postgame interview said she could not say enough about the play of both No. 21s, Tamecka and Ticha. What about that, in your opinion? And also, Richie talked about fundamentals turnovers and free throws?
Chancellor: Dixon, outstanding basketball. They have handled the ball, didn't turn it over much. To get Penicheiro to shoot, but outside of that, she ain't going to shoot the ball. And then typically when you get this these situations, 14 for 17, one team is 12 for 14, that's just the difference. You have to just step up and make shots. I thought the difference in the game today was free throws.
Q: Do you think that the home audience got a sense of the excitement? Do you think the folks at home were watching on TV did they get a sense of the excitement here in the gym?
Chancellor: If they didn't get a sense of excitement, what they had better do is call their best friend and call the funeral home because they are ready for a little funeral. I couldn't even hear -- they had me in on that little deal where you are talking during the four-minute marks and all of that. I couldn't even hear the questions; it was so loud. If you couldn't feel that at home watching the television, you might as well go ahead and kiss it off; you're dead.
Q: Was it part of your game plan to let Griffith and Leslie do their thing inside and outside? Was that how you went into the game knowing they were going to put up points?
Chancellor: The game plan, let them inside, let them go out, go high low, let them row. I thought it was a pretty good plan. You know, it's amazing that you can just coach and come up with all the plans when you got Griffith, Tina Thompson, all those horses, Lisa Leslie.
Q: Second half, two-team race, going down the wire, second half the season?
Chancellor: Is this a two-team race? Is that what you asked?
This is what I think. I think L.A. is so strong right now. I mean, they are really strong. They are deep. I don't know, it's going to be a tough challenge. I think Sacramento is coming on in leaps and bounds. I think right now, if I would pick a dark horse, I don't know how well they will finish, but in the playoffs, I am picking Sacramento to be a dark horse, really tough.
In the Eastern Conference, I still believe Orlando is going to come in. I don't know why I believe that, but I do, and New York is going to be tough to beat.
Q: Do you like being the underdog?
Chancellor: I would rather have Swoopes than be the favorite. I mean, I am the underdog; so I'm just rolling out there. Today I was the favorite today, underdog tomorrow, and I'm just going to be fighting and using that with every little ounce I've got in me.
But I would still have Sheryl Swoopes and be the favorite, because I can run one of my all-time favorite plays. In other words, for three years: Get the ball to Cynthia, get the ball to Sheryl. That's hard coaching right there.
Chancellor: I've been pretty wired. I mean, I don't have any pressure now. The more I get to thinking about Orlando, you can't even hardly talk to me.
Q: How has Tina accepted her role now as the go-to player?
Chancellor: Like a duck to water. She loves it. She is been sitting down there pass the ball to Sheryl, pass the ball to Cynthia, and now she's getting all those shots and she's just died and gone to heaven, she just hasn't left this earth yet.
Thank you very much. I do appreciate you supporting the game of women's basketball, especially WNBA basketball. We'll see you out here Wednesday night, which is going to be a great game. That baby is going to go down to the last shot of the last play, so come out there.
Janeth Arcain, Houston Comets
Arcain: For me it was nice to be a part of being one of the best players on the West side. When I got the ball, I just tried to play my game. I think the West has good talent and good players. It feels so great to me to be part of this team, because I know this game will be televised in Brazil, overseas, and all parts of the world. To be recognized as one of the best players in the WNBA, is such a great feeling and great to be a part of.
Q: What about the second half of the season for the Comets?
Arcain: In the second half, we will have to continue to play together. We are playing so well together, and the other players help Tina and I out very much.
Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Sacramento Monarchs
Bolton-Holifield: Obviously, it's a little different than being on your own team. You are with players that you are familiar with, but you haven't really played with them. You have a lot of All-Stars, and you are not playing 25, 30 minutes. And you have to share the ball more. I've been on All-Star teams, I've been on national teams, so I know the mentality. You get up there and try to have fun, but it's all about winning.
Q: How much did it mean to have your teammates here with you?
Bolton-Holifield: It helped a lot. It really did -- to know that we were voted as starters for All-Star. It gives us confidence for our team; it shows us how good we can really be. And not only do we have three Olympians, we have three All-Stars.
Q: Were you expecting the game to be as close as it was?
Bolton-Holifield: I felt like it would be for a little bit. I thought it would start out tight and then we would break away. And we did break away, but we got sloppy and they came back. But I knew that they would be relentless because of the hype that we were picked to win it all.
Griffith: We felt we had to dominate inside because we lost one of the best post players in the WNBA, Nat [Natalie Williams], she was out. So Lisa [Leslie], Tina [Thompson], Lauren [Jackson] and I felt we had to come out and crash the boards, control the boards in place of Nat.
But it was all fun and games, we're glad we won, we're 3-0 against the East. And it's so competitive. We didn't want to get it thrown in our face that we probably choked a little bit because we've been bragging all night since we've been here. But I'm just happy we won and put on a show for the fans tonight.
Q: How tough do you think it was to distribute minutes?
Griffith: It didn't matter who started tonight. Everyone had the same amount of minutes and it's all about team effort tonight. Our guards hounded the ball for us and found us wide open, and they basically wanted to run on us tonight, but we kind of got the upper edge on them. We pretty much got a lot of breaks, we controlled the boards and Coach [Van] Chancellor said, "I want to go home 3-0." And we did it for him.
Q: Did you think about possibly getting the MVP?
Griffith: It doesn't matter. Just being invited is the most important thing. Anybody could have gotten MVP tonight. I'm happy for Lisa [Leslie], and I'm just happy that we won, and I was happy that I came out and just tried to represent the Sacramento Monarchs as best as I could.
Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
Jackson: It was great to get everything out and be part of a team with them, and I'm going to say to them, "It was great getting to know you guys and actually playing with you instead of against you." It was a lot of fun tonight.
Q: How do you feel about playing in the All-Star Game now that it's over?
Jackson: I feel good. I'm glad that it's over, and we did well and we won. I'm just really happy that it's all come together.
Q: How would you sum up your experience here?
Jackson: I had a great time. It was awesome, just the hype of it all. It was cool. It was a lot of fun.
Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
We did a good job of trying to mix it up, we had some exciting plays, as well as some good execution.
Q: Van says that he thought you played as though you were angry because you were not voted in as a starter, and it seemed as though every shot, you were making gestures that kind of punctuated that?
Leslie: I wasn't playing out of anger. What I tried to do was focus and decided, OK, I'm going to come off the bench. What can I do to help this team? I can get out there, still score points, rebound and block shots. I did play with a lot of emotion, even for my own teammates you have an opportunity to see exactly what is happening out there and see what it is your team needs.
I thought, I hope Coach Cooper doesn't bring me off the bench, but it felt a lot less pressure going out there, but I was focused on what I wanted to do and my goal was to try to be MVP.
Q: Tell me what it was like playing with who everybody thinks is your nemesis, Lauren Jackson?
Leslie: It was fine. I think we did very well together. We both were coming off the bench, so we practiced together yesterday. We passed each other the ball. We hit each other five and that was pretty much it. When it comes to playing the sport, I don't carry those type of feelings out there. She was my teammate for today. We did a great job, got her a few assists and she hit some big baskets for us, and that's the end of it. I'll go back and put on my Sparks uniform and she'll go back and put on her Seattle Storm uniform.
Q: Seeing as you were not starting, would you like to see the matter of the vote changed?
Leslie: I don't know. I think that's definitely a league issue, and maybe they will look at it and maybe they won't. Maybe we have to do a better job of promoting our All-Star Game in our own cities. I don't feel that I saw the type of response that we needed to help, even for myself. Could I have done more participating and saying vote for me and things like that? I'm sure we'll look at it and the league will look at it, too. They may decide to stay with the fans voting and which was great, and Yolanda did a great job. It created a little talk about it, but it worked out well. We won and we are happy.
Q: You talked in the postgame interview about how you could not say enough about the play of your point guard, setting up the offense. Talk a little bit about that.
Leslie: I think Ticha is one of the best point guards in the league. She is very young, but she is a great, exciting player and she just gets you the ball. When you think you are not open or you think you're open and she doesn't see you, it still gets in there somehow. I think Tamecka did a great job of playing the 1 because she normally starts for us at the 2 and they really got our offense going. We were able to execute and set up plays, and at the same time we were able to run and fast break. That's what you want to see in an All-Star Game is run and not get too sloppy, and we were able to do both.
Q: Most players envision having a game like you tonight. What is it like? How gratifying is it to actually do that?
Leslie: It's very gratifying because when you set a goal for yourself prior to going out and stepping on the court and then being able to play well, it feels good. It really did feel good. I was excited. I was excited about being able to pass the ball well, about blocking shots, rebounding, and scoring.
I think you come into an All-Star Game trying not to have too much -- you're nervous and you're excited, but at the same time you don't want to start jacking up shots or playing selfishly, and I tried to have the total game tonight and doing all of the different things that I'm capable of doing.
Q: What about the size advantage of the West? That was a factor going in; do you think it played out that way, not so much rebounding, but in other areas?
Leslie: Let's see. Well, looking at the stat sheet, I think we probably didn't do as good of a job as we should have on the boards, because it is even. They shot 40 percent and we shot 41 percent so, that area we didn't hurt each other as well as the three-point shot. Obviously, we got to the free throw line more and they only shot 50 percent and we shot 82 percent. So maybe that was the difference in the ballgame right there.
Turnovers was pretty much the same and the blocked shot. So us getting to the free throw line, being more aggressive on the inside was probably the difference in the game.
Q: You mentioned earlier when you were talking about trying to make it an All-Star Game so that it is fun for the fans, but I noticed a lot of defense being played on both ends.
Leslie: I don't know,I don't think that we have the luxury that the men have to come in and just put it on cruise control for three quarters. It's is very exciting and there are some spectacular plays in the NBA Finals and they are really awesome, but for us, I think we are still trying to buy into getting the fans watching on television, to watching the WNBA and see WNBA basketball. So; therefore, we do defend each other, and we take it really serious. We play with a lot of intensity and we are very focused and the East is tired of being beat.
Q: Tamecka said she was trying all night, hoping to set you up for a dunk, and she thought she had it one time and Phillips grabbed the ball. Did you think you were going to get one?
Leslie: I was very focused on getting a dunk, and the opportunity never really came. They were focused on making sure I didn't get a dunk, and Tari was playing very physical. It is a part of the game. When it come, it will happen and I don't think it is something that we should try to force. She did try to get me a pass, but that's my teammate; I'll pay her later. This was a great game overall. One of these gay days we will get a dunk in a WNBA game and probably in an All-Star Game.
Thanks to all of the media. This is the first time we've had this much media response, and it's great.
Ticha Penicheiro, Sacramento Monarchs
Penicheiro: We only had one opportunity to play in the West, and that was in Phoenix last year. They were trying to get a 'W' and we did play hard and just got more baskets than they did. The crowd was great. These are the best fans in the world. It doesn't matter if you are playing in the East or the West. They are here to just support us as women in the sport of basketball.
Q: How did it feel out there tonight?
Penicheiro: I missed the first nine games of the season due to injury ... and to still be voted in this game is a big accomplishment. I want to take this opportunity to thank the fans for voting for me.
Smith: It was nice to talk to her, and she's just like any of us. She's a rookie and she's making her mark, and she's going to be one heck of a player.
Q: How hard is it to get to know the international players around the league?
Smith: It's tough. A lot of us, we played internationally overseas or with USA Basketball, you get to play against people or meet them. But it is tough to get to know anybody. Some of the kids coming out of college, unless you played with them or knew them before, you have no idea what they're like. You know their games, but you don't know them as a person. It's tough sometimes to even get to know your own teammates in that short amount of time. But everyone really opens up here, and they're really fun to be around.
Q: Did it help that your team substituted en masse?
Smith: I don't know if it was a plus or not, but it's nice because you get five in there, they work hard, they do their job and then you ship another group in there right after them. It was good. I think with the talent you have here, you've got enough guards, you've got enough posts, it was easy. I think when teams are playing together well, which both were, you might as well do it.
Jackie Stiles, Portland Fire
Stiles: It was just very exciting and a lot of fun to be among so many great players. A lot of times, I caught myself watching just in amazement.
Playing with Lisa Leslie, all you have to do is throw the ball inside and you know she's going to score for you. And even if your player gets a step on you, you know she's in the lane and she'll clear it out for you. So it was just incredible playing with so many great players, and I just had a lot of fun out there.
Q: Was it everything you imagined it would be?
Stiles: Definitely what I imagined and more. It was just incredible. I was just so emotional when I first ran on the court, thinking, "Gosh, what am I doing -– I'm a WNBA All-Star." It was just an amazing feeling to run out in front of the fans and just to play in the game.
Q: Do you feel this takes your development that much further?
Stiles: Definitely. I've been an underdog for most of my career in every phase, starting in high school and then in college. People said, "Playing for SMS, you'll never be an All-American, you'll never make it at the next level." I know I’ve always had the doubters, but I love a challenge. I think that's what drives me -- just trying to make it in the big time -- and this was just an incredible honor for me to be a part of the All-Star Game in my first season. But it's a credit to so many great people who have supported me throughout my whole career.
Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
Thompson: It was a great opportunity for me to play in the All-Star Game, because not everybody gets to play. For me to be able to do it once again is very gratifying for me.
Q: With Swoopes injured and Cooper retired, is it on your shoulders to win a fifth championship?
Thompson: It is not all on my shoulders. My teammates (Comets) are doing a great job and playing really well. I think for me personally, I have gotten a lot more opportunities. My role has changed that I have to take more shots and score more points.
Q: Do you like playing in Orlando?
Thompson: It is always fun to play here even when we play the Miracle. The fans are great. They support the game and they support good play. This arena is nice. I enjoy playing on this floor.