Game 1: Mercury 101, Storm 84

Post-Game Quotes

Posted: Aug. 24, 2007

MERCURY HEAD COACH PAUL WESTHEAD: "Itís not an easy place for us to come up and play. We couldnít win here in the regular season, so itís nice to get one in the playoffs. We had a pretty good spread of scoring between (Diana) Taurasi, (Cappie) Pondexter and (Penny) Taylor. I also thought that Tangela Smith stepped up like the veteran pro she is Ė 10 rebounds and she made some timely outside shots. Of course, Kelly Miller is always the motor of our team Ė she makes everything go."

(On the Storm potentially coming back at any time)
"Itís interesting because I thought Seattle made a nice run at us. In the fourth quarter they started making baskets and trying to gut it out. Itís discouraging when the opposition comes down and makes a three or what looks like a tough play. Tangela Smith and Cappie Pondexter made big jumpers so it kind of cuts into your run. Thatís what weíre pretty good at. We might not always stop you, but weíre pretty good at coming back and scoring on you. For us, we did a terrific job on the boards. Any time we can tie, it favors us because we usually get beat on the boards."

(On whether or not the margin of victory helps going back to Phoenix)
"Weíre a pretty focused team. I think weíll go back and be prepared for Seattleís best on Sunday. We know they can beat us. If you add them all up this year, itís now 2-2 Ė they beat us twice and we beat them twice. We need one more win and we know that, especially with Lauren Jackson, theyíre a very dangerous team. Iím saying the obvious, but it is the truth."

(On how they defended Lauren Jackson)
"We tried to rotate our defenses. Some of our defenses are straight zone, some of them we have our rover player, Diana Taurasi, move up and down with Lauren Jackson. And sometimes we just flat out played her, trying to deny her the ball. We had Belinda Snell doing that for awhile as well as Taurasi. We tried to rotate the defenses so that canít find Jackson in open spots. We did a decent job of that." (On holding Jackson to no field goals for 16 minutes)
"I couldnít have imagined that. But we tried to stay focused on keeping the ball away from her. We did a better job tonight than we have in the past of not letting her get to the rim and get some second shots. I think our defense played that a little better, but I canít imagine that continuing for another 40 minutes." (On denying Jackson the inside and forcing her outside)
"Our plan is to try and make things uncomfortable for her wherever she is. So if she chooses to go in, weíre going to try and go in. If she chooses outside itís a little more difficult to contain her. She came out a few times and got some open shots on us that we would not have liked. Fortunately we had a large enough lead that we were able to sustain it. Thatís why sheís the best player Ė sheís tough in and sheís tough out."

MERCURY GUARD DIANA TAURASI: "Thatís what weíve been talking about Ė little steps. Everything this year has been a little step Ė from being first in the West during the regular season, finally making the playoffs and now winning on the road. A series starts when you win on the road so thereís no other way to put it. Seattle is tough place to play. We lost twice here during the year because itís not an easy place. I think we showed a lot of character today."

(On how they shut down Lauren Jackson)
"It was with five people really. We know theyíre really good when Lauren is playing at the highest level, which she did tonight, but she just didnít get enough touches. Whenever you have a player like her it takes more than just one person. If you try and single coverage her itís going to be a long night. Tonight we did a good job of doubling, tripling, quadruple, I donít know how to say it with five Ö but it was just a tough defensive effort by the whole team."

(On whether Jackson seemed frustrated)
"Not really. Lauren always plays hard no matter what and she did tonight, too. Sometimes you have to defer to other people and tonight was a little bit of a long night for them. But we still have a lot of work to do."

(On whether the Storm seemed tentative from the outside)
"A little bit, but the zone is not something youíre used to playing for 40 minutes. Teams maybe go two or three minutes at a time, but thatís pretty much been our mainstay all year and we feel comfortable in it. I really donít know what they were thinking, but thatís what weíre pretty good at. Weíve been working on it the last two years so we did a good job."

(On her role as a rover in the zone)
"Yes, itís basically a box-and-one. Just track her and not give her any free looks, which is easier said than done. A player like her at 6-5 can really do anything and whatever she wants at any time. But like I said before, itís the help from Penny and Tan (Tangela Smith) down low, Cappie digging in, Kelly Miller playing at 900 percent with no body fat Ö so things like that really help us. If (Lauren) catches the ball down low, itís usually two points or an and-one. Thatís just how skilled and how great of a player she is. We try to limit that as much as possible."

STORM HEAD COACH ANNE DONOVAN: "We didnít hit shots from the outside at all. I thought we really struggled from the perimeter. And our goal was to get to the free throw line a lot more than we did tonight, attacking off the dribble against the zone, making the next pass. I donít think we did that. We were very stagnant offensively against the zone in the first half. We had a little bit better flow in the second half but in the first half we didnít move the ball enough, we didnít make the next pass enough, and I thought we took shots that we donít need to take."

(On whether or not Lauren Jackson got enough shots)
"Absolutely not. We talked about that in the locker room. Lauren Jackson is in my opinion the MVP of this league, sheís carried us into the postseason and weíre not going to make it to the second round with Lauren taking 10 shots. It seems like we lost our focus, in particular, in the second half. Although Izzy (Castro Marques) and Betty (Lennox) hit some outside shots in the second half there were opportunities to get the ball to Lauren in the second half and we didnít. And that canít happen."

(On trying to get Lauren the ball)
"We had set plays that we were running to help her get the ball and I think itís a combination of our perimeter keeping focused looking for her, and Lauren working hard against the zone to get her own opportunities."

(On Phoenix's defense)
"I was surprised in the first half that they stuck with their 3-2: a few possessions of the box and one, and then in the second half they went to the box and one. Thatís what we expected to see from them, those two defenses. I was surprised they stuck with the 3-2 as much as they did. Against the 3-2 we shouldnít have that much trouble getting Lauren the ball if we keep our focus and Laurenís working on her cuts. It shouldnít be that big a deal. Against a box and one itís harder for her to get the ball and harder for us to find her. In the first half we took poor shots and against a 3-2 zone we should be able to better than that.

"Weíve got two games so the series is not over. We did not play our best basketball, thereís no doubt. I though the second half we shook out of it a little bit and started to wake up but weíve got to go to Phoenix and take care of business. Weíve made it difficult and weíre going to have to do this the hard way but weíve had playoffs where we won the first game and then came back and lost the second two so weíll see if we can turn it around this year."

(On the early turnovers)
"That was the key. Phoenix had 19 points off of 11 turnovers in the first half and that completely set the tone. I thought our perimeter with Sue (Bird) and Betty really struggled initially and it gave Phoenix the momentum, and it gave them access to what they like to do which is run. That was our problem. The second half we took a little better care of the ball. Phoenix capitalizes on those turnovers and scored 32 points off our turnovers and thatís pretty difficult to overcome that."

STORM GUARD BETTY LENNOX: "Itís more than frustrating. We were ready, or thought we were ready to come and play defensively and obviously that wasnít the case. It was very disappointing playing in front of a great fan base, a great crowd. For the sixth man being behind us, it was very disappointing."

(On Game 2)
"Obviously tonight I couldnít do anything right. Definitely I hope that when we go to Phoenix the outcome is different. Right now our backs are up against the wall and weíve got to take care of business. Weíve got to get Lauren more touches, she had just 10 touches, and they are keying on her. She needs more touches and we need to be more aggressive on defense. Even when our offense doesnít play well, weíve got to make up for it on the defensive end and we didnít do that tonight."

(On playing against the zone)
"It forces us at times to take outside shots and thatís what Izzy and myself were doing. Weíve got to penetrate the zone and not settle for jump shots. If we settle for jump shots their zone is going to look like an awesome zone. We just need to penetrate the gaps and kick out and hit the open shots."

(On thinking this could be last time playing in Seattle)
"Definitely. At times it seemed tonight like I was forcing something, but I wasnít forcing it I just saw an opportunity slipping away. And I tried to get it back in one or two or three shots. That wasnít possible and that was in the back of my mind. Weíre not guaranteed anything. Being in fourth place we have to go down there and play two games. Thatís why it was very frustrating to walk out of here with a loss. Especially being in front of our fans and what we really need on the road is our sixth man."