WNBA Finals 2003 Media AvailabilityDetroit Shock
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Bill Laimbeer |
Swin Cash |
Cheryl Ford |
BILL LAIMBEER, Head Coach
Q: Is there anything Michael Cooper does in particular that gets under your skin?
Laimbeer: No, I have been down that road before. He blows steam every other day. Iím not quite sure what heís trying to do, whether heís trying to throw himself out there or pump up his ladies.
Q: How ironic is it that the Sparks are going after their third title and here you are Detroit trying to stop them?
Laimbeer: Ironic is a pretty big word for an athlete. I would say there are similarities. Thereís no question about that, but itís between the coaches, not the players. The players could care less. They are two different teams that have their own agendas who donít care what happened 20 years ago.
Q: How much does your team reflect your playing style?
Laimbeer: I hope a lot in that they walk on the court, practice and compete very hard. Very intelligent basketball players driven to win, so if they can get those traits, thatís great.
Q: The Sparks feel they gave you that game in Detroit.
Laimbeer: Cooper also will tell you that they were hurt when we beat them. You can use all the excuses in the world you want. This is a new day and a new time.
Q: How much confidence did that victory give you guys?
Laimbeer: We really donít remember the victory. It was a good building block for us back then. We are a much different team now. Weíre much more confident now. Back then, we were just learning about each other. It was definitely a boost for us, our organization and where we were headed.
Q: Home-court advantage is huge in the NBA, is it the same in the WNBA?
Laimbeer: You have to win your home games in order to win. In this series, especially, we canít win or lose on the road. Everything goes through the Palace. So if we win our home games, weíre the champions. Thatís the bottom line.
Q: How do you feel about yourself as a coach this year as opposed to last year?
Laimbeer: Iíve learned a lot more this year. Last year was no pressure. Last year was taking over a 0-10 team and any win was a good one. Last year, we were just beginning to play hard and play some sense of organized basketball on a professional level. This year, a lot more pressure to win, a lot more talented players to manage. I learned a lot about myself. Coming down the stretch in games, Iím much more prepared both mentally and X and O-wise.
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Q: Feeling pretty confident?
Cash: When itís time in the clutch to win the game, this team always come through. I will take my chances with this team over any other team.
Q: How much does your NCAA championship experience help or does it at all?
Cash: I think a lot of players on this team had been in the NCAA tournament, and they understand that win or itís done. Thatís a lot of pressure. This is a three-game series, if need be. We have to play every minute like itís our last. If you can take that into this series, weíll be all right.
Q: Outside of Lisa Leslie, what other matchup problems do the Sparks pose?
Cash: They have probably Ė you all have written it Ė the best starting five. Theyíre deep at every position as far as their talent level, their experience at winning championships, they have it at every single position. I think thatís the advantage they have right now.
Q: What are the keys for you to win this series?
Cash: Try to limit Lisa Leslieís touches, make her make tough shots, make them beat us from the outside. Our defense is going to be the key for us. Offensively, weíve proven we can run and we can score with the best of them. Defense is going to be the biggest task at hand.
Q: Thereís a lot of attention given to the coaches and their past. Is that a distraction?
Cash: No, itís pretty laughable. Let all that happen because at the end of the day, when we step on the floor, it is going to be us vs. them, and thatís where the game is going to be won. Itís great for womenís basketball to have this type of hoopla going on, for the coaches and all the history in it. Iím just happy to be a part of us.
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Q: You are in the championship series in your rookie season.
Ford: It feels great. We came from worst to first. We were the laughingstock of the league last year. Now, weíre up here. Bill made some great trades, drafted some great players to surround Swin Cash, to help her out. Itís good. Weíre winning, weíre having fun and weíre excited to get this thing going.
Q: How are preparing for this series? What do you expect from the Sparks?
Ford: I expect a lot of physical play. This is going to be the most physical play I will play all season. This is it. Each team wants to prove itís the better team. Itís going to be real tough on the court -- both mental and physical toughness.
Q: Coach Cooper said that this series will be decided in the paint? Do you feel a lot of pressure?
Ford: No, I donít feel that pressure. We have 11 players who can score. All of us can score. If itís not going well for me, then the next person can step up and do her thing. I have no pressure; Iím just going out and play my game.
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Q: The coaches have said that rebounding could be the most important aspect of this series. Do you agree?
Nolan: Yeah, because weíre both great rebounding teams. I think what we have to do is limit their rebounding on the offensive end. We need for it to be one shot and out, and to get those important rebounds, even the loose rebounds that our guards need to track down.
Q: Do you think that their experience might be a factor?
Nolan: Yes, they have experience, but itís all about execution. Thatís what the playoffs are about, teams executing. I think that we have a lot of maturity that should help us.
Q: What are the major concerns in facing the Sparks?
Nolan: Their post play. Dealing with Lisa Leslie. One thing you have to do is keep their guards on the perimeter.
Q: How will you be able to contribute?
Nolan: At this point, Iím not that sure because of my injury. I may be very limited in what Iím able to do. Weíll have to see.
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