The Deciding Blog
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on September 8, 2006

We need to refocus from when we lost that game in Sacramento. It was just one of those games. We have to prepare for tomorrow. I think that by this point both teams have figured out the other team's offenses. Our offense and defense just weren't really there in Game 4, they were not according to the gameplan. But we should be alright.

We can't dwell on what happened in Sacramento, and we really have no choice about that. It can't carry over into Game 5. We need to watch tape, we got some rest yesterday, and now it's time for practice. It's all about us. The coaching staff can tell us over and over about what we need to do, but it didn't seem to happen on Sunday. We didn't accomplish what we set out to do in the gameplan. We were down by 13 but managed to cut the lead to four, we made some subsitutions, but they got some key offensive rebounds and putbacks, and then Plenette Pearson threw up a crazy shot at the buzzer that went in. Everything was clicking for them.

I'm expecting a great atmosphere at the arena tomorrow. It should be a great basketball game and the Detroit fans support their team, they want to see the Shock win another championship. Our backs are against the wall, so we have to make it happen.

Trying To Close It Out
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on September 4, 2006

In Game 3, offensively, I think the posts established themselves. All four posts have not always shown up to play, it's been me and DeMya. But our posts were rebounding, and we just need to establish an inside game in order for our shooters to get the looks that they were getting in Game 1. It's team basketball, somebody is going to be on and somebody is going to be off. Last night the posts scored well for our team, and we were ok offensively. Defensively, we still made some mistakes. We have to correct those mistakes before Wednesday's game, these two days are going to give us the time to correct those mistakes and get ready for the next game.

In Game 4, I anticipate that Detroit will come out focused. They are not going to let the crowd or our defense rattle them, because this is a do-or-die situation for them. And it's a do-or-die situation for us as well. If Detroit loses, that's it, we are the champions. If we lose, our backs are against the wall and we have to go back to Detroit. It's going to be whoever has the biggest heart, what team shows up focused and runs the defense the right way. It's not going to be perfect, but if we run our offense the way we are supposed to then we are going to be ok.

In order to win the series, we just have to put forth the effort. I think if we really want it and we are hungry, we should be able to get it. It's not going to be easy, but we can get it if we work as a team. We feel good about what's going on for us now, we have some good people on this team.

A Long Way To Go
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 31, 2006

We won, so we're happy and we're satisfied, but we still made some mistakes on the defensive end that we cannot make tomorrow. I know that Game 2 is going to be a very tough game. We allowed the ball across the board and that is a no-no, we allowed high post entry, and that is a no-no. I'm happy that the shots are falling, I'm happy that we hit our free throws, but I think we can get more high-low with our post players, I think we need to attack the basket and not settle for jump shots. Of course we're happy, but we are not going to celebrate right now, it's only one game.

I know that the Shock are going to make adjustments with Kara and Nicole, but they cannot guard both of them if they are hitting from outside. If they take away our guards, then the posts are going to carry the team. We have a really, really balanced team, which is one of our strengths. We don't rely on only one person to score for us, we use everybody. We have a great starting five, some great players coming off the bench, and we have eleven players that are going to play. Nobody is going to get tired so we need to put forth the effort every time, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

I think Game 1 was probably the best we could have hoped for. They said we set a lot of records, but we are trying to win, not set records. There's still a long way to go, and this series is not even close to being over. We still have a long road ahead of us.

Bring On Detroit
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 29, 2006

The series against LA, we didn't come out strong in that first game, but we got the win. We always count on a lot of players to do a lot and it was the starters that had to close it out. For Game 2, we realized the mistakes that we'd made in the first game that allowed them to hang around and we did our best to not make them again. We were focused and played our defense from beginning to end. We knew they were going to make a run in the second half, but having nine players scoring and our bench outscoring their bench, 23-7 was a plus for us. We've counted on our bench all season and they came through again.

Griffith and the Monarchs are looking strong as defending champions.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
This is what you get paid and work all season for, to get to the Finals. It's going to take all of us, from our coaching staff down to the last player. We have to be smart. The first two games are out here in Detroit where we know they're going to be tough to beat. We have to try and get one of these wins and take it back to Sacramento.

I really didn't think we would get to where we are now the way the season started. We're fortunate to have been able to regroup. Whoever wins, it is two #2 seeds in the WNBA Final which has never happened before. So we're proud of ourselves, we're happy, but we're not jumping the gun. There were a lot of distractions at the beginning of the season, but we're in the championship. Whoever wants it is going to get it. That's all it's going to take. As always, we're just going to stick to our game plan against Detroit. We're going to send them to the baseline like we always do, have our white line. Just because we're playing a team that is just as physical as us doesn't mean we're going to change anything. Eventually someone is going to get tired and wear down. That's why we count on our bench. We have a good starting five and great players coming off the bench that can give us a hand.

Our starting lineup has its hands full with Detroit just like they're going to have their hands full with us. I'll always be on Ruth Riley and we have players that can take care of Cheryl. We've got to knock our shots down, hustle to all the loose balls, play the best defense we can possibly play, and keep them off the boards. Basically both teams are going to be going after the boards. Whoever outrebounds the other team is the team that is going to win; that and the play of the benches.

We're not going to pressure ourselves. We've been the underdogs in every series, so we're going to continue with that attitude.

Ready for the Conference Finals
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 23, 2006

At the end of the season we had a couple of days after the last game to focus on Houston and get our defense where it needed to be. Getting that first game was important for us, whether we had home court or not, because the pressure would've still been on us if Houston would've gotten that first game. Sometimes you just don't need that added pressure. We were able to come out strong offensively, set the tone defensively and get those games.

When you are up by as many points as we were in Game 2, there is only so much a person can do. The fact that we were able to rotate four post players in and out of the game really worked to our advantage. With Michelle Snow and Tina Thompson pretty much playing the majority of the game, I think it wore on them.

During the season when L.A. beat us three times, we didn't have our complete team. When we first started the season DeMya Walker wasn't in, we had some injuries, and Kara Lawson was sick. But we don't have any excuses. Things happened to every team and you just have to weather the storm, which we did. We know in order to get to where we're trying to go, you have to beat best team and right now, L.A. is the best team. No matter how hard their series was against Seattle, we know that they were successful as far as attacking our defense when we played each other. They have some tricks up their sleeve, so we just have to play our defense, be consistent, and knock down the shots.

Our game plan for them includes Chamique Holdsclaw playing. She had four or five days to rest up and get ready for us and we assume she is going to play and provide an impact, whether it is starting or coming off the bench. And you can't put anything past L.A.'s supporting cast. They have a good team that is actually more disciplined than last year's team. It's not just Lisa Leslie, Temeka Johnson, Mwadi Mabika or Chamique. They have players that understand their roles and that are willing to do anything to help the team win. That's why they've been successful. People want to only focus on Lisa or Chamique instead of the whole team and that's a mistake.

Every team needs players that will do the little things and for us, Erin Buescher has been that his year. She was given an opportunity when DeMya wasn't with us after having her baby, and when you are given those opportunities you have to take advantage of them. After the last season the coaching staff talked to Erin and told her what they needed from her. She came back with a better attitude and was willing to get better. She worked hard non-stop in practice and on the court whenever she was playing, and through the good and bad, she's always stayed positive. You want players like that. You want players that are going to work hard and that are willing to do anything for the team. She's a good person on the court and off the court and we're lucky to have her.

We have a great team with a great starting five and bench players that we can count on for points, rebounds and defense. One person isn't going to score all of our points. This series isn't going to be about Lisa versus Yolanda. It's going to be the Sparks versus the Monarchs and that is how we're going to approach the game. We're going to play our defense like we know how and go from there. All you can do is make it difficult for the other team and hope you come out on top.

On the Road to a Repeat
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 15, 2006

Even though Houston beat us three times this year and we're opening up on the road, we're not worrying about it. Teams have been opening up on the road since the playoffs started. We don't want to end up losing in the first round like Seattle did last year, so Game 1 is a must win for us. Houston had to struggle a little bit before getting into the playoffs, but now that they're in, we're expecting them to come out like the veteran team that they know how to be.

Dawn is in her first full season with the team. Tina is always going to be hard to guard because she shoots from the outside and can post up. Michelle Snow is coming into her own right now. Then you have Sheryl who is going to be Sheryl, defensively and offensively. Those four are key. If we can limit certain things within that four, we should be ok. But our only concern is still how we perform. We can't go in there thinking we have to shut this player down or shut that player down.

Right now, I feel our inside game is strong with DeMya Walker getting back into form, Rebekkah doing the things she needs to do, and Erin improving like she has from last year to this year. DeMya in particular started out slow coming back from maternity leave, but she found a comfort zone, got in shape and came back mentally and physically focused to help this team. Our post has been doing good things, but overall everybody has to play. We can't depend on our offense all the time. We have to depend on our defense. Our D has been key in helping us reach 21 wins.

What we did last year was a great feeling. This year, we're not in first, we're in second on the backburner looking in. But we have that confidence. We're still the champions and we're not second guessing ourselves.

The Final Preparations
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 11, 2006

I think the game against Minnesota was an example of how even though a team is pretty much ready for the season to be done and over with, they are still going to fight, and Minnesota gave us a tough fight on Thursday night. We had a nice lead, but I guess we got a little comfortable, and with them having nothing to lose, they made it a game. We came out with the victory by doing a lot of good things, but we made it a lot tougher than it should have been. We need to get back to running our offense and defense the right way, which is why we're going to watch the video as we get ready for the next game against Phoenix.

Yolanda would love to pose with the WNBA Championship trophy for a second consecutive year.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
Games like the one against Minnesota and our game against Washington a game that went double overtime after we blew a 17-point lead are games that will get us mentally ready for how the playoffs are going to be. But with only one game left before the playoffs, there is still a lot of work to be done. We've had a couple of nice streaks this year, winning seven in a row, four in a row, and now five out of six. I feel we're peaking but there is some growth that we need to go through.

Phoenix is one team that I think no one wants to see in the postseason. They're a young, feisty team with some great players and for them to get that win against Houston despite not having a big post presence with Vodichkova out was impressive. I actually am trying to get a copy of that game. I really want to see it.

It seems that right now everybody is trying to figure out what the best matchup is for their team, but you can't go into the playoffs like that. Whoever you play, that is the team you have to prepare for. You can't say, well we beat Seattle, so that is who we want to play. Right now we don't care. We are in second place and the only thing we can do is take care of ourselves. Every team is potentially a deadly team.

Once the playoffs start, it's totally different. Going 0-3 against LA, we're not concerned. The beginning of the season we were struggling trying to find a starting five or a certain amount of players that could play this defense. Last game against LA, we played pretty good, but our offense just wasn't clicking for us. So in the playoffs, it is 0-0.

Every player on our team can be a leading scorer. But we don't care about that. We just want to win. Sometimes we play the best defense, sometimes we don't. Sometimes our offense carries us, sometimes it doesn't. Right now, we know what we have to do as a whole in order to win and get to our goal which is the championship. That's all that matters and that's all that should matter.

Dreams of a Repeat
Posted by Yolanda Griffith on August 9, 2006

Five years ago I hurt my neck in practice, and I was out for the first half of the season. Sometimes, if I get hit in a certain way, whether it is in my back or on top of my head, I get a tingling sensation in the back of my neck, and I need to sit out a few plays.

On Saturday, this happened to me, but I felt the pain in my lower back. Fortunately, I was able to come back, play and help my team win the game against the Washington Mystics. I have had three days to get myself ready for the team's next game on Wednesday night, and I am doing OK.

We play the Los Angeles Sparks who are at the top of the Western Conference, and if we play well in our first postseason series, we should see them in the conference championship. However, as a team we are still in the mind-frame of playing in the regular season. We are using the last few games to improve all aspects of our team in preparation for the postseason.

One thing we must improve on is our defense. Our defense is what helped us win a championship last year. But if all of our players are healthy, which is more than I can say for many of our opponents this late in the season, and if we can take care of business early against whomever we face in the postseason, I believe we will be able to win any series against any team.

However, the Sparks overall are tough to play. Lisa Leslie usually averages a certain amount of points. Chamique Holdsclaw is a force coming off the bench. Mwadi Mabika has averaged more than 20 points against us this season. The key to their success is that they have players who are not worried about their role and are not worried about whether or not they score. When you have players who are not selfish and are willing to make whatever sacrifices it takes to win a championship, then you will have success as a team.

Of course, once you win a championship, the pressure is always going to be on you. I think that the way we started in the beginning of the season, there was a lot of focus taken off of us. Los Angeles came out strong and fast out of the gate and immediately started to win. In the beginning of the season, I think it was a lot of pressure, but now this late in the season, we need to hunker down and play basketball.

This is a whole new year for every team and anyone can win the championship if they have a healthy team and if everybody is focused. If our team can stay focused and healthy, I think we have a great shot at winning another championship.

But, at the same time, I think that our winning has fostered a lot more fans in Arco Arena. Whenever you win, people want to come in and enjoy being in that atmosphere. After winning a championship especially, we got new and more fans. But at the same time, I think we are an exciting team and people want to see us showcase our talent. I think that is important with our job as basketball players. We do entertain our fans, and if it weren't for them, I don't think the WNBA would be possible.