Things said and heard around the WNBA this week.

Notes and Quotes:
June 27, 2005

Phoenix Mercury General Manager Seth Sulka on the return of Maria Stepanova on Saturday:
"It is great for me to be back in Phoenix. The Mercury are my team and I am thankful that they want me to be here. I will work very hard to help my team here so we can be successful."

Mercury center Maria Stepanova, on her return to the team:
"It is exciting to see Maria in Phoenix again. With her full day of travel yesterday and the fact that she hasnít been able to practice with the team, we decided to wait until July 2nd to activate her. We have a break in the schedule this week which will allow us five consecutive days to practice and incorporate her into the team."

Detroit Shock forward Cheryl Ford on Sunday's comeback win over the Sparks:
"We just came together as a team. What was hurting us in the first half was our turnovers. We were hurting ourselves and we knew that. We looked at each other and said one basket at a time and that's what we did... (The win) will definitely boost our confidence, as long as we got that confidence in each other and believe in ourselves, we'll be fine."

Ruth Riley once again showed that she has Lisa Leslie's number.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty

Shock center Ruth Riley after the L.A. win on the key to the game, Lisa Leslie's foul trouble:
"I think that's the strategy that every team takes when they play L.A. She's their best player, she's their leader. If you can get her in foul trouble and force her to sit on the bench, that's a tremendous advantage... You can't give up 10 minutes into the game and they were hitting a lot of shots, we weren't hitting anything so at that point, you're pretty much at the bottom, there's only one direction to go and that's up. You've just got to keep working and working."

Liberty coach Pat Coyle, on the emergence of center Ann Wauters as a critical player:
"She's a presence - I mean, she's huge. You throw it inside, it's a big target. You really can't miss it."

Sun assistant coach Bernadette Mattox, after Saturday's win over the Mercury, as coach Mike Thibault missed the game to be in California for his mother's funeral:
"Mike already had them prepared for today. He prepared them for a game like this when he may not be here... (Scott) Hawk and I did this thing together. It didn't take a lot because the players knew what to do. They stepped up when they were supposed to. They made shots when they were supposed to."

Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith on her 3,000th point in her team's loss to the Sun on Friday:
"It's a good accomplishment, but I'm disappointed that we lost, and the way we lost."

Mystics forward Charlotte Smith-Taylor, on her team's recent success:
"Even though we got off to a slow start, I wasn't panicking," said Smith-Taylor. I've been on a team [the 2001 Charlotte Sting] that started 1-10 and recovered to make the [WNBA] Finals, so I've seen teams bounce back after a bad start. This team has too much talent to lose some of the games we've been losing. It's just a matter of us getting a rhythm and creating some momentum."

Comets center Michelle Snow, after Saturday's win over the Silver Stars:
"We really made a commitment to really emphasize not allowing teams just to come in and manhandle us on the boards."

Storm guard Sue Bird, who returned this week wearing a protective mask, talked about it with the Post-Intelligencer:
"It gets really sweaty. It's a pain in the ..."

Storm guard Betty Lennox, on Bird's return:
"The last few games, I haven't (felt comfortable). It's hard to play without your third -- myself, Lauren (Jackson) and Sue are the top three. We open up so much for each other and know each other a little bit more than everybody else out there on the floor."

Mercury center Kayte Christensen, responding to an article critical of WNBA athletes:
"It is disgraceful that we live in a society where women are proving themselves qualified to compete vs. men in the business world, political world and on playing fields, yet as a society we can't get past the idea that being beautiful is the most important thing a woman should strive to be..." (Full text)

Sparks forward Chamique Holdsclaw after Friday's win over the Storm:
"We just played with a lot more energy. I thought our energy was so high... Sometimes, you see us get the ball out slowly and work it up the court when a team is scoring on us. Tonight, we were just pushing the basketball and just trying to have fun."

Detroit's Swin Cash, who has yet to play a game this season recovering from knee surgery:
"I have been working hard to return. t has been a long process and taught me patience. I have been fortunate to have people around me who have supported me."

New York's Becky Hammon, after Tuesday's win over the Silver Stars to climb above .500 for the season:
"We've come in with a mindset these last few games that: 'It's not about who we're playing, it's about us - let's take care of the mindset and the Ws will take care of themselves...' "The first couple of games, our effort wasn't where it needed to be ... We felt like, after our first two games, we owed it not only to ourselves but to our fans to play better in this building. You've got to defend your home court."

Donna Orender, speaking at the groundbreaking for the new Sprint Center in Kansas City:
"The WNBAís goal is to add a franchise a year for the foreseeable future. Kansas City is a great sports town. Itís a town that supports youth in sports that are family focused and affordable. Thatís what the WNBA brings to any market it comes to."

Washington's DeLisha Milton-Jones, after Wednesday's near run-in with Diana Taurasi:
"She blindsided me. That's what they were doing all night. We'd be running downcourt and they'd run in front of you and just stop. I'm not going to tolerate that. I reacted and I know I could have reacted differently, but my emotions got the best of me at that point."

Taurasi after the same incident:
"That's DeLish. That's what you're going to get from her. I'm not going to back down to anyone, so if she wants to come after people, I'm going to be right there. It's a good thing she didn't get to me... We were just standing there and she fell down. I don't know. Maybe it's the weight room. I've been spending a lot of time in there lately."

Sun guard Nykesha Sales, after a big win over the Sparks on the road last week:
"That's what every coach is looking for, balance. We finally found that. We have players who come off the bench with the same focus and attitude as the starters."

Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes on the play of rookie Katie Feenstra:
"Katie has a lot of potential in this league, and I think everyone caught a glimpse of that."

Mystics center Chasity Melvin:
"We're just basically getting to know each other better and getting to know each other's tendencies better. "The main thing is the chemistry . . . but we're executing our plays better. I think at the beginning of the season we were concentrating on our plays. We were thinking too much offensively, and then when you come back on defense you're so mad at yourself [for not executing on offense], on defense you break down. You're letting everybody else get shots. Now we're executing better on offense and it's carrying over on defense."

Fever coach Brian Winters on his team's winning start:
"Because of our depth and our versatility, there's a lot of different ways we can go. Right now, we're seeming to find ways to put the right lineups out there and doing a lot of good things."

Lynx guard Katie Smith on the prospect of topping 5,000 points in her U.S. pro career:
"I had no idea this is what I'd be doing the last 10 years. It's nice to be able to do what we love, and obviously make a living doing it. But 5,000? No, I don't think about that. I'm sure it won't last for long, the way these guys are going."