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Cheryl Ford's Playoff blog|
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Iím feeling as good as I can right now. Fracturing my foot is definitely disappointing and frustrating and unfortunate but at the same time, Iím trying to put a positive spin on something negative. I didnít know what it was at the time, although I definitely knew it wasnít cramps, so Iím just thankful that itís not anything worse. Right now Iím standing on two crutches and wearing a boot. Itís just going to come down to how fast my body can heal.
Douglas will likely be sidelined for the rest of the 2006 Playoffs.|
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Itís been pretty casual around here. I saw my teammates the first night and then at practice, so everybody was extremely encouraging. Theyíd love me to be out there as much as Iíd love to be out there, but Iím here with them on this trip to support them and encourage them, to be a leader for this team in any capacity that I can be, and help them from the sidelines as much as I can. That is my role right now and I know that theyíre going to go to battle, not for me, but for our team and for our goals. I know that this is going to be a difficult series but I know this team is up for any challenge.
Obviously against Detroit weíre hoping that more shots fall than what happened against Washington in the second game. Iíve never been a part of such miserable shooting by both sides. It was unbelievable, just a horrible display of making shots. I donít know if it was a contagious effort or what. Both teams were trying, but itís hard come playoff time because each team is so well scouted that you have to make moves, countermoves, stuff like that.
Playing the Shock, I feel that both teams know each other so well that itís going to be a little ugly out there. I think itís going to be extremely physical. Itís going to be a grudge match, but also like a chess match with all the mixing and matching. We definitely can learn from the Washington series, though, that no matter how ugly it is, the key is always that on any night, you can go out and play defense. We definitely need to buckle down on defense and control the rebounding in this series.
I see three things that canít happen if weíre going to win. We canít turn the ball over and have it converted into points. We canít get pounded offensively or defensively on the glass. Weíve got to either win the battle on the boards or stay even and we canít get beat with the free throw advantage.
Detroit does a number of things very well. Obviously they pound the boards. Theyíre extremely physical. They get a lot of transition, a lot of points in the paint. Katie Smith had some good games against us, but if you take away Katie, you have problems with Deanna Nolan, Cheryl Ford. The same thing goes for us. If you take away me, you have problems with Taj, Nykesha, and Lindsay. You have such threats at every position on both teams. Weíre obviously going to pay a lot of attention to personal tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. In the playoffs thatís what itís all about Ė player personnel, scrutinizing, trying to find that gap, that hole, that weak link. Detroit doesnít have many at all. We have to be able to neutralize some of their players that come off the bench and provide a huge spark.
I donít think me not being on the floor is going to change things for them. What everybody has been saying, and what should be said, is that no matter if I am in or out, this is still a very balanced Connecticut Sun team that has quality players filling in for me. So I think Detroit is going to prepare the same way and weíre obviously going to make little changes and tweaks.
This is a huge test for our team, but I know our coaches are going to have our team extremely prepared and I know our team is going into this series confident, not over confident, but respectful of our opponent.
The time of year that every person who plays this game dreams about, the playoffs, is here and we have our work cut out for us facing Washington. We won two out of three games against them this year, so we obviously did some things right. They?re a really athletic team that likes to play extremely fast paced. I don?t know if that caused them to get tired, but in our two wins we were able to come out of the half, tweak a couple of things and pull away.
In their win, they got us at their place. Pretty much it came down to some simple rules that we usually play by that we didn?t do during that game in Washington, namely boxing out. That one game, they beat us on the boards, so we need to control the glass.
Beginning a series on the road like we'll be doing in Game 1 is always difficult. Since we fly commercial, though, it's probably the best scenario. Still, it's not the home court advantage that we've worked so hard for. To our credit we've played very well on the road this year and I think you can point to our experience as the reason. We're a very veteran-laden team. The experience of having been to the finals two consecutive years and the fact that this team previously was in an underdog role is big for us on the road. Obviously we have huge targets on our backs, but we know how to handle it now.
I think Game 1 is going to be our toughest game of the year thus far. We know they are going to be extremely prepared and amped up to play us, so we have to be equally focused and ready for them.
Outside from limiting their main weapons, it is going to be crucial for us to control their energy players like Nakia Sanford and Coco Miller. Anytime they come in and play well, Washington ends up being successful. In my mind, they're the x-factors.
Our x-factor is going to be Nykesha Sales. She's missed some games, but if we can get her going and get her back in a little rhythm, it will make us that much tougher.
Right now we're going to refocus, get away, go into isolation and get our minds right. Personally I've been a little banged up. My body was deteriorating, so I definitely just need some rest. I'm going to hydrate and hydrate until I can't hydrate anymore so that I'll be ready to go.
Come game time on Friday, we all have an idea of what coach is going to tell us, play hard, have fun, and let's get it done. Now is the time to buckle down.
This 10-game winning streak we have been on is pretty incredible. There were some stretches earlier in the year where we werenít clicking like we should have been. We just got back in the gym, practiced a little since we hadnít practiced in what seemed like forever, and made some minor adjustments in our offense which made a huge difference.
I would share those changes with you guys, but theyíre confidential. Anyway, since then weíve been rolling.
The feeling around the team, though, is that we still have a job to accomplish. Everyone is extremely focused on taking it one game at a time and most importantly not overlooking anybody.
Our next game in Chicago is the perfect example. Theyíve been eliminated from the playoffs, but at the same time, a couple of us including myself (when I played for the Orlando Miracle), have gone through that experience of being out of it as the season winds down and we know that theyíre still going to come out and compete.
For that reason alone, weíre honestly not looking forward or toward the next game at Indiana or the next game or the next game. Weíre just taking it one day at a time, staying focused and hopefully weíll reach our goal, which is playing for the WNBA championship.
If you can believe it, there has been no talk about what happened last year and us losing to Sacramento. They were the best team at that time and they won the championship. It was well deserved.
This year weíre just putting our work in, trying to make things happen, secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs and let the rest take care of itself. There is no bitterness. Itís just a team united working towards one goal.
To attain that goal, you can point to several places that we need to focus. We have to consistently rebound the ball, both offensively and defensively. We have to keep our turnovers down. We might get Nykesha back soon. Sheís been out since the beginning of July. Barring any injuries like last year and with a little bit of luck, weíll be all right if we take care of those other things on the court.