WNBA Finals 2003 Postgame Quotes

Detroit Shock
Sunday, September 14, 2003

Bill Laimbeer | Swin Cash | Cheryl Ford | Kedra Holland-Corn | Deanna Nolan | Ruth Riley


Laimbeer: Well, if you were in our building today, all of our fans had a great time. That was an unbelievable crowd for us. It was something that our ladies will remember for a long time, and we're looking to duplicate that on Tuesday.

I thought in the first half we came out and played spectacular basketball. We were very focused. We were very into it. We were embarrassed on national television in the last game that we played. And the resilience of our ballclub, any time we have a bad showing, to come back and stand up and show what we really are about, I'm very proud of our ladies.

I thought that the second half, like I said in the last press conference, after Game 1, that at some point in this next game, that they were going to test us. That's what champions do. They get out there and they put the pressure on you. They play great basketball, testing your mind, testing your mental toughness and seeing if you'll crack and they can steal one. Our composure has been not only our biggest surprise all year long but I think our greatest strength is our composure to stand there when a lot of things are going wrong and make the big plays. Kedra's three-point shot was a huge play for us. Deanna, last year, she would not think about driving in there and taking the hit. This year, she's that kind of a player, an all-star player. She went there, drove in there, took the hit and got to the free throw line and knocked them both down.

For the WNBA, today was a great day I thought, especially in this town. There are many, many people here today that have not experienced a WNBA game, and they got one of best ones. Not only did we play great, they made a great comeback and then we won it in the end, and life is great.

Now I'll take some questions. (Laughter).

Q: What about Holland-Corn's contributions in the second half?

Laimbeer: Well, you know, obviously, she made some big plays. You saw the veteran leadership. She looked to me a lot of times about what to run, and then went out and did it herself.

I couldn't keep her in the game long enough, yet at the same time, I had to make other subs and she knows that. She's been a great professional all year long, starter in this league playing 30-plus minutes for the last four years in a row and this year she takes a bench-player role and has excelled in it and shown great leadership. I'm very happy for her today. This was a great culmination of her season right now. We have one more game to go, but this just accentuated how professional she is.

Q: Can you talk about what Leslie was able to do against you in the second half, and the differences that you saw from her. How you were able to stop her in the first half?

Laimbeer: I thought in the first half they didn't really go to her a lot and when they did, she wasn't as aggressive attacking the basket. Granted, we were very active defensively. We were so quick in helping down on Leslie. Every time she put the ball down, we got a hand on the ball every time. Cheryl showed how many times -- did you see her dive on the floor for loose balls? You rarely see a professional athlete do that but she did it. She was always on the floor getting stitched up and came right back and played.

In the second half she isolated Leslie a little bit more, went to her and she performed, like she is, a great player and great players do that, especially great champions. When it's their time to try to win the ballgame, they do it, and she did and we weathered the Storm.

Q: Can you talk about how physical the game was today and do you obviously expect more of that in Game 3?

Laimbeer: Yeah, we are both big and strong. We are two of the biggest, strongest teams in the league across the board.

I expect the same action. Everybody in there banging, working for position. That's why we built this team. We built this team to be a playoff team. If we didn't get to the playoffs obviously we would not be a playoff team, but we built it for big, strong post play, power the ball inside, to play interior defense, to rebound the basketball. Those are how playoff games are won and that's what our team is. That we happen to be able to hit perimeter shots, like Kedra did tonight and Deanna Nolan, that's great. But playoffs are about slugging it out in there and physical basketball, because there are not as many foul calls in the playoffs. I think today we have learned to accept that. We got not as many whistles going our way in the second half as compared to L.A., but we didn't get down. We didn't let it bother us. That was the great thing about our team. We kept on plugging away. We had some work to do, we have to solve the little matchup they threw at us there, gave us a little bit of confusion, no question about that. Going to three guards helped us. Gave us more perimeter shooting but that's something that we are going to watch a lot of tape on and go over some tomorrow. I watched a little bit of Cooper's series and he's not far off there. All the players know each other real well right now. We know them. They know us. We know what they are going to try to do. They know what we are going to try to do. Now we have to try to figure out how to win this one more game. If we can get a crowd in there like that again, oh, that was sweet.

Q: After you scored and took the time-out, what were your defensive instructions on the last possession?

Laimbeer: We were definitely going to trap Lisa Leslie. No question about that. She was not going to beat us. We trapped the wrong player, but okay, we made a couple mental mistakes coming down the stretch in some assignments that we have. It worked out. We trapped and knew we were going to fall back into kind of a zone and they couldn't get a shot off it. It was really good to watch our players hustle.

Q: What would it mean to this franchise and you in particular to win a championship on Tuesday night?

Laimbeer: I think for our franchise, we are well down the road for how great this series is and this team is for our franchise and our town. To win the championship would be unbelievable for our players. I think we are well down the road for our franchise and our town. Our players now want this very badly. They want to be WNBA champions, especially the ones that have been here for a while, and Swin last year going through what she did.

For me, I want it for the ladies. I have mine. I was a player and I won. This is for the ladies. We got the Eastern Conference championship for the fans, for our organization, for everybody else. This championship is for the players.

Q: Both games have been a tale of two different halves for each team. What is it going to take in Game 3 for the eventual winner to rise above that?

Laimbeer: We proved at the start of the series, no matter what happened, it was 120 minutes of basketball. We think we have a good bench. We think we can run. We can really be physical. We can do a lot of things that wear people down and this is 120 -- we have 40 more minutes to go. By the time this series is over, we'll see how tired everybody is.

Q: Was building up such a big lead actually detrimental to your team because --

Laimbeer: I will always take a 16-point lead at the half, okay. (Laughter) Always. Every day. No questions asked.

No. I think what happened to us in the second half was, there was a little bit lack of intensity. Sustaining that pace that we had in the first half would have been very difficult. I understand that. The crowd was so great in the first half, and they are new. It's a new crowd. They have to learn how to push us when we are sluggish.

But you give L.A. all the credit in the world. They played like champions today. They came out and they did exactly what they had to do to try to break us mentally and win the series today. And you give them all the credit in the world.

It reminded me of when I was playing with our team or when Michael Cooper was playing with the Lakers. That's exactly what you're supposed to -- you make all your shots, you are very efficient, you break their will and you win the basketball game and you go home champions. But that didn't happen today. Our ladies stood up when it was time and made the big plays as they had in the past. Now we have a one-game shoot, okay. This is all anybody can ask for. This is classic. I said before this series started it's going to be a great series and it's turning out to be such.

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Q: How did you guys win after they cut a 19-point lead and took a 4-point lead?

Cash: They are a championship team, and they know that. But we never stopped attacking, and we were missing a lot of shots. But, at the end of the game we executed and we got good shots.

Q: Did you as a team lose confidence at any time in the second half?

Cash: I donít think that we lost confidence. We were just trying to get it going, and we were forcing the issue. I think that we felt that we were going to win this game because we knew that we had to execute and we have been in that situation before.

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Q: You guys looked like a totally different team tonight, what was different?

Ford: We are at home in front of our crowd. And we decided that tonight it was do or die. We were either going to win or we were going to go home, and we werenít ready to go home. We knew that we had to come in here and focus and make our shots, and that is what we did.

Q: What do you do tomorrow to prepare for Tuesday?

Ford: Tomorrow we are going to go and watch a lot of film, and we are going to do some stuff on the court to get ready.

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Q: Looking back at your years at Georgia, do you ever remember making such a big shot at a big time?

Holland-Corn: 1995 against Colorado for -- to go to the Final Four. Hit three 3s. We were down by 11 with 3:40 to go, I think. Hit three 3s. That's what I was thinking the last couple of minutes of the game.

Q: Talk a little about the two halves. We saw almost two different games out there. Talk about that and how you guys came out so quick so fast and grabbed that big lead?

Holland-Corn: We knew we definitely had to win this game. So we came out very intense and ready to play. We had a 16-point lead. Second half came around, a little hesitant, wasn't as intense in the second half. I think it was only natural when you have a big lead like that against a team like L.A., it's very difficult to maintain, even though how hard you try to do that.

So we kind of knew that we were going to go on that run. How big that run was going to be, we really didn't know. But at the same time with Bill preaching 120 minutes throughout the entire series, no matter if we were up by 20 or down by four or up by 20, don't ever give up. With that kind of mentality, that pretty much helped us pull this thing out today.

Q: Were you sensing that your young teammates needed some veteran leadership out there?

Holland-Corn: Yes, I was. When the game was tied, Bill pulled me out and they went up by four, and I think we called a time-out. All I heard was, "Kedra, you're back in." When I heard that, I said, if I get a shot, it's going up no matter what. That's because of the fact that we have a young team, and the maturity as far as being a veteran on the basketball court, the leadership, it's not quite -- is not quite there yet just because of the fact they have not played for so many years, and me playing for five years and having played in the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs, tomorrow may not get here, so when you have an open shot you have to take it, and coming off the pick on Ruth, I had an open shot and I took it.

Q: Talk about the crowd again. I know they announced 17,000. Is it the biggest crowd for you this year and what lift did that give the Shock?

Holland-Corn: When we lost against LA, before the game started, we were was saying there's 14,000 tickets sold 15,000 tickets sold, you might have a sellout crowd here. We looked very much forward to going back here and playing these guys. After we won the Eastern Conference Finals, we told them it would be very difficult to beat L.A. and we needed them here for next two games we had. Having them here behind us, they are still a young crowd, new crowd and so they don't know to get in it when the opponents are coming back. But today, they showed their support for us. When we came back, we heard a lot of screams but we need those screams, also, when we are kind of slacking and not playing as well as we were in the prior minutes. They definitely pushed us over the top today and we are very happen and I hopefully when we play on Tuesday we'll have the same crowd if not more.

Q: Having played against L.A. and having so much experience against them, were you surprised that you were able to get that open look?

Holland-Corn: To be honest with you, no, just because of the fact that they concentrate so much on Deanna Nolan and Swin Cash and Ruth Riley, I'm kind of out in the open. They probably want to concentrate on me, too, but they didn't anticipate -- they would rather give me up or Deanna or Ruth up. To have the mentality that Bill has instilled in myself, as far as shooting, without being on, without playing 100%, we cannot win a championship. And having had that mentality throughout these entire playoffs for myself has made me mature a lot and brought out the leadership skills that I have.

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Q: What are you feeling after this game?

Nolan: We are feeling pretty good about this. We came out with intensity in the first half and the second half.

Q: What were you thinking on the line?

Nolan: No problem. I was just taking my time and knocking the shots down. I shoot them every day in practice.

Q: You didnít feel any pressure at all?

Nolan: No. I knew that if I made one or two, we were going into overtime or we were going to win.

Q: How were you able to go after this team, what do you think you guys did well?

Nolan: We moved the ball well, we found the shooters and we knocked the shots down, wide open shots that we werenít hitting the first game.

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Q: That was the plan all along, to get the ball inside?

Riley: We have a big front court. We are going to get out and run and we have a lot of transition baskets and we did get a lot of points in the paint today.

Q: What about the crowd?

Riley: I think itís a record for the crowd today. They really backed us all year and the support has just escalated.

Q: What do you think about the impression you have left on the area?

Riley: I think that the Midwest especially loves basketball, I am from Indiana. If you are in a high school program somewhere you will see there are a lot of young girls out there playing basketball, and they are just waiting for a team to get behind and embrace.

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