WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR PRACTICE QUOTES
All-Star Quotes: West
Chancellor | Arcain | Bolton-Holifield | Dixon | Griffith | Jackson | Leslie | Penicheiro | Stiles | Smith | Thompson | Williams
Q: Your record this year is impressive, talk a little bit about that?
Chancellor: Thompson and Arcain playing unbelievable. They are doing some things I just never would have dreamed. They are scoring. They're both, second, third, fourth in the league in scoring. I didn't know where we were going to get our scoring from. We have been able to generate offense to win, but we really have a good defensive team. As far as this All-Star Game, we really take a light-hearted approach to that. Our idea is that this is a reward for a great season, or seasons, and we ought to be able to come here and have a lot of fun.
Q: Three time All-Star coach, has it changed any? Is it as exciting as the first time?
Chancellor: You know what, I have been very fortunate because of players I have been able to coach in my third All-Star game. It is thrilling, but I don't know if it is quite as thrilling as the first one in Madison Square Garden because that was Madison Square Garden and that was the first one of all-time. But I've found, what I love best about it is the All-Stars themselves. I have a great relationship. I carried a lot of these to Brazil to an All-Star Game, and I have been able to coach them now in a third year, a lot of them. I have been able to enjoy them plus the fact any time you bring your own players, they?re a lot of fun to coach. Then you get to coach the Lisa Leslies of the year, Katie Smiths and Yolanda Griffiths, that's a lot of fun, guys. I just throw the ball out there and let it roll. Jackie Stiles asked me a minute ago what we're going to do. I said, 'Stiles, play ball.' It is pretty simple. She is worried to death about what we are going to do, what we are going to do in practice.
Q. So you are looking to have fun?
Chancellor: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I told them I'm gonna play to win, don't miss understand me, but I also think you gotta have some fun.
Q. Once again it is you and Richie Adubato ...
Chancellor: Yeah. The players are the players. Richie and I just kinda ... I never have played a coach. I always thought it is just a great moment for the players -- just get out of the way and let them play.
Q. There are two rookies on the roster. Can you tell us a little about them?
Chancellor: Yeah I got to great rookies. I mean great. Lauren Jackson and Jackie Stiles will be in a lot of Olympic Games before their careers are over. They will be All-WNBA, all everything, these are the two of future stars of our league. Great people, wonderful personalities and outstanding players.
Janeth Arcain, Houston Comets
Arcain: To be here at the All-Star Game is so nice and it's a great time. I hope everyone will enjoy it. For me, personally, it's so great because it's my first time. I'm so surprised because I guess I have so many fans here in the United States. I couldn't believe how many votes I got. I'm just happy, will play my game and show them what I do and why the fans put me here.
Q: The WNBA is shown in many different countries and languages, do they show the games in Brazil?
Arcain: Yes, on ESPN International and it's translated into Portuguese. The All-Star Game for sure will play there. My family and friends will be watching.
Q: How do you like Orlando and have you gotten to see much of it so far?
Arcain: I was here five years ago and it's a lot different now. I think it's nice. I went to CityWalk on Saturday and I liked that so much -- lots of things to do and lots of places to eat. I'm so mad because we don't have more time for Disney World. You can find a lot of different international people here. I know Brazilians come a lot because they love the parks and everything.
Q: Besides playing in the game, what other activities will you be doing during All-Star weekend?
Arcain: I know we'll be out meeting fans and teaching kids how to play and how to be. There will be a lot of fans here for the game, and we have to show them what it's like. And like they say, 'Basketball is life,' so we have to teach that to the younger players.
Bolton-Holifield: It's an honor. To be playing basketball all these years and to be acknowledged by the fans is a real honor for me.
Q: Is there anyone you are looking forward to seeing play tomorrow?
Bolton-Holifield: I think Nikki McCray. She'll probably guard me, and I'll be guarding her a lot. But really, just being out there against all those great players.
Q: What does the West have to do to win? You seem to be the favorites.
Bolton-Holifield: Well, we are just going to have go out there and execute; make sure we control the boards. The East has a lot of perimeter players and they are going to be looking to run, so we have to be aware of that.
Q: Looking at the second half, what do you need to do to position yourselves for a run at the title?
Bolton-Holifield: Right now, I think we are in third place, so we have to just go out and keep doing what we are doing. We have to stay focused and keep Los Angeles and Houston and the other teams in our sights.
Dixon: It's cool a great experience. The greatest thing is developing new relationships, we don't get to talk to each other a lot. It is going to be cool for me.
Q: What changes if any is your team going to make over the break to get ready for the playoffs?
Dixon: I don't think we are going to make any drastic changes. We are just going to continue to get better on defense every game. We have been getting better and we need to continue to do that into the playoffs.
Griffith: I think we have to control the boards like we did in the other two All-Star Games. Van Chancellor told us that this is going to a hard-fought battle for us. We have to go in there and stay focused and run our offense and stay focused and control the boards.
Q: What does it mean to get voted to start?
Griffith: Being a starter is a great opportunity for me. But being a reserve player is also a great honor, also just to be nominated for the WNBA All-Star Game. It doesn't really matter who starts, just who wins.
Q: What does Sacramento have to do to position yourselves for a run at the title in the second half?
Griffith: I think we're on a positive note right now. We are winning a lot of games. Pretty much everybody counted us out because we, when our coach (Sonny Allen) left, we're like 6-6. So they didn't think we were going to turn things around. We believed in our team and we believed in our coach that we have right now. The only thing we have to do is stay healthy and focused and win the games that kind of like slipped away from us before. We have 12 games left and we feel pretty positive that at the end, we are going to be right there.
Jackson: I'm just happy to know that people are recognizing me. And even though I'm not doing that well, I think that's great. I hope to play well tomorrow night.
Q: Can you talk about the rookie class this year?
Jackson: Semeka Randall on our team has been great. She's going to be huge in the future. And of course Jackie Stiles, she's been awesome. She's leading the way for all rookies at the moment.
Q: What has the WNBA experience been like for you this season?
Jackson: I think it's been forlorn, it's been difficult being away from home, I think everything has been combined into one thing at the moment. The home issue, playing a different style of game, everything. I feel frustrated because I know I'm right there and if I can make one extra step when I'm playing, I'll be great. But I just can't do that yet, and it's frustrating the hell out of me because I feel I can do it. I think, too, it's my first season. Another 10, 15 years here, I'll be all right. So I'm just going to take it easy because I know I have so much longer to be here, and I'll do what I have to do.
Q: How different is it from what you're used to in Australia?
Jackson: Just the level, the physicality, the athleticism of every player. Every player in this league could possibly play for the U.S.A. team and win the gold medal. That's the type of team you're playing every single night against the same sort of competition. It's pretty tough. It's like playing for the gold medal over and over and over again.
Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
Leslie: To be a three time All-Star, it's definitely an honor to represent our league at the All-Star Game. It's exciting because it's a big national event and on ESPN and a lot of fans can watch and get involved. The league and the sponsors have done a really great job of making this a really memorable event. I'm very excited to represent the Los Angeles Sparks along with my teammate, Tamecka Dixon.
Q: You're bigger than the East, but they say they can probably outrun you.
Leslie: I don't know about the rest of the post players, but the Sparks players, that's all we do is run, so I don't see anyone outrunning me out there. We're an offensive conference and scoring baskets wins games. And we won't have any problems blocking their shots.
Q: Talk about the two rookies.
Leslie: I think they're doing pretty well and having great seasons. To be honest with you, I don't really keep up with their teams because I'm on the Sparks and we're in the same conference, but I think that overall they've done a good job.
Q: Do you think they have star potential?
Leslie: I think Jackie is a very good scorer as well as Lauren. They're very gifted inside as well as out. I see them as always being a threat offensively, but I think that to really be a star, you have to elevate other parts of your game. I think for Lauren, she's 6-5 and should probably be averaging a few more rebounds. Jackie, I think she really has to work on going to her right a little more, so that she can be balanced because I think she's awesome going to her left.
Leslie: Janeth Arcain was one of the leading scorers for Brazil in the Olympics and Tina Thompson is a great player as well. In past years, they've taken a back seat to Cynthia (Cooper) and Sheryl (Swoopes), but it doesn't surprise me at all that they're All-Stars and doing well this season.
Q: Can you dunk?
Leslie: Yes I can dunk, I've done it in practice. Will I do it tomorrow in the All-Star Game? I don't know. I'll be more in tune for it in a game like this. I'll say this, if the opportunity presents itself, I'll try it.
Q: Why is the All-Star Game an important event for the league?
Leslie: I think it is important in all leagues to have an All-Star Game. It's fun and important to show that there's an elite group of players and to allow them to showcase their skills. Obviously, the West is the favorite for the win, but I guess I'm biased.
Ticha Penicheiro, Sacramento Monarchs
Penicheiro: I actually got in last night. I was fortunate because we played in Utah at 1 p.m. and then I was on standby to get on a direct flight to Orlando. So I got on that flight, and it was good because we got in at 11 instead of six o'clock this morning.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about this All-Star Weekend?
Penicheiro: Having fun. Of course we want to win. The West wants to win because we're 2-0 and the East wants to prove themselves, but we just want to have fun. This is two days of just going out there and enjoying each other off the court. This is a great time for us to have a break from our teammates, our team, our plays and get out there and just put on a show for these fans and for the people watching at home -- in the States and all over the world.
Q: You'll have two of your teammates in the starting lineup with you ...
Penicheiro: That will be great. Looking and seeing two other purple jerseys in Yolanda and Ruthie -- I think it's well deserved. Ruthie has done a lot for women's basketball and Yolanda is just a great player. She's up there with the Lisa Leslies and the Natalie Williams' of this league. The fans did their homework, they voted and they did their job and so she's starting with me. It will be very familiar to have both of them.
Q: What does it mean to you to be a three-time All-Star?
Penicheiro: I mean, there's none like the first one, but this one is definitely special because I didn't play the first nine games of the season. I had an injury. I still haven't totally come back from it, and I'm still not at the top of my game. The fans voted me in because they want to make sure they see me play for what I've done in the past. So I'm just very honored. It's just very special. I was like, maybe I'll go to Vegas with my family. I thought I probably wasn't even going to the All-Star Game. And that would have been cool too because this league is so talented and there are so many All-Stars out there that won't be playing here this weekend. Not everybody can make it. It's just definitely extra-special, the fact that I made it this year through injuries and everything.
Q: The West is so much bigger than the East. What is the strategy to capitalize on this?
Penicheiro: We don't have a strategy. That was the same thing that happened in the first two All-Star Games because we are so talented inside in the post position. We just want to have fun, but once the ball goes up, ... we want to win because we're very competitive women. I'm a point guard so playing with all this talent is great for me. They're just going to make me look good.
Stiles: There are people stopped on the highway by our house taking pictures of our apartment. That was in Missouri at my school. A guy once carved me out of wood. I had to sign a kid's forehead. Just things like that. I got a letter from Japan, I thought, "Wow. They know who I am there?" It's just been crazy.
Q: Did you here and whispers early about maybe not being able to play as well in this league?
Stiles: I think I've always been the underdog in my career. I started out from a small town. They said, 'You'll never be all-state in high school.' Then I tried to play Division I and they said, 'You'll never make it there.' Then it was, 'You'll never make the next level.' I love accepting the challenge and really proving the people wrong. I think my biggest thing is my work ethic.
Q: What you looking forward to tomorrow?
Stiles: I'm just going to come out and really try to enjoy this experience and really have fun. To be among so many great players ... it's just going to incredible being on the same floor, playing with and against. I'm just going to go and try to have fun.
Q: What did it mean for you to be selected as a rookie?
Stiles: Words can't describe what this means to me. At the start of the season, I was really struggling and if you had told me then that I'd be selected as an All-Star I would have thought you were crazy. I can't believe I'm here, and I am just so thankful to have this opportunity.
Smith: It means a lot. You look at all the talent that's in the league. You have the best talent in the whole world. You have foreign players, you have everyone in the U.S. combined in one league, and to be voted in by the coaches, especially by the coaches you go against you every single night, means a lot. It means you have their respect. There's probably some people that deserve to be here who aren't, but I'm happy to be here and excited to hang out for two days with a lot of friends.
Q: How big a thrill was the 46-point game?
Smith: It's a thrill, but we lost the game, so it was really a little disappointing. It really was, because we had an opportunity to win that ballgame and we let it slip away. So the 46 points really wasn't as exciting as it could have been. But it's a record. It's great, but records are meant to be broken and somebody will get me someday. But it was neat. I don't know if I can say anything about it, other than it was a decent night, but I still wish we had won that ballgame.
Q: What has to happen for your team to move up in the second half of the season?
Smith: We get ourselves in holes, usually in the first half of the ballgame, and in the second half we play them tight and we get right back in the ballgame. But always trying to fight back, you can't always get over that hump. You're playing against veteran ballclubs that know how to finish off games. You can't do that. We fight and we never give up, but there are times we have three minutes left in the ballgame and we have the lead, and we somehow let it slip away. And we have to be mentally tough and make the right decisions, but also to be poised and be able to handle anything thrown at you.
Q: What can you do personally to get everybody going?
Smith: It's not a whole lot I can say. I'm just going to keep going out there and working hard. We're really a close-knit group; we have people who are really on the same page and working in the right direction. But I think we underachieved, honestly, in the first half. Not to say we didn't work hard, but we just didn't put all the pieces together. But I still expect a lot of myself and a lot out of my teammates. That's basically what I want to bring when we get back at it after the All-Star break. I'm going to be ready, and I expect the same from them.
Tina Thompson, Houston Comets
Thompson: I think the only thing that's probably drastically different is the number of shots that I'm taking. I think my role is pretty much the same. I'm the same person that I was. The difference that sheds a lot of light on me is that Cynthia [Cooper] and Sheryl [Swoopes] aren't there. But I'm the same person I was year one through four. I think Janeth [Arcain] has definitely stepped up a lot and taken a lot of the load off of me offensively. But other than that, I think our team is the same.
Q: What about how you're viewed by your teammates?
Thompson: We all view ourselves on the same level. Everyone can talk to everyone. Everyone gives constructive criticism, as well as compliments. So from that perspective, I know that my team definitely looks to me as far as leadership and for offense, but everyone else has a huge role. It just makes our team better in that however heavy or light the other person's role is, as long as everyone's taking care of their share, it works out evenly.
Q: What does the All-Star experience mean to you?
Thompson: It means a lot. It probably signifies the work that we've all put in, not just this season, but in the offseason to put ourselves in the position we're in right now. It's a lot of fun too, playing with the players we play against on a nightly basis, and these are some of the best players in the world, just to play together and have fun and enjoy the season for fun and not necessarily as work.
Q: What does your team have to do in the second half to win the battle with L.A. in the West?
Thompson: I think just be consistent. I'm really happy with our position and where we are right now in the first half of the season. I just think we need to continue to grow with each experience, and in coming out and continuing to play hard and give whatever efforts possible. I think L.A. is definitely a good team. They're probably the hottest team right now coming into the All-Star break. They have a long winning streak going, but they're talented, so that's expected. I expect them to be competitive, and I have the same expectations from my team.
Williams: It's fun. It's a great opportunity for us to be around people that we don't see all the time. Usually, we see them in a war zone. It's fun to play with Lisa [Leslie] and Yolanda [Griffith] and Katie [Smith] again. I feel like it's the whole Olympic team back. And playing with Lauren Jackson instead of against her, and Jackie Stiles, and Ticha Penicheiro's an incredible point guard, too. It'll be a lot of fun.
Q: What's your impression of some of the younger players in the league?
Williams: I think they're incredible. We knew coming in this was a great year for them. Lauren's making a huge impact for her team and throughout the league, and Jackie Stiles being an All-Star -- she's incredible. And even Marie Ferdinand on our team is amazing. She does things that no one's ever seen before. So I think it's only getting better, and I think it's a lot of fun for fans to watch.
Q: What has to happen for your team to move up in the second half?
Williams: We just have to continue to play like we have been playing the past few games. Our defensive intensity has increased, and we're executing our offense very well and moving the ball around to different people. Margo [Dydek] is playing great. She's a huge stopper inside the key, and I think after our win last night, the way we played, if we continue to do that, we'll definitely be in the playoffs.
Q: Is it disappointing to have a break now when you're playing so well as a team?
Williams: No, not at all. It's only two days. That's not long enough. We go from here to our road trip. We play Indiana on Wednesday, so it'll be nice. It's definitely what our team needs, a little time off to just regroup and come back and play hard.