WNBA Finals Practice Quotes: Monday, Oct. 15

Oct 15 2012 7:02PM

The Fever and Lynx met with the media on Monday in Minneapolis, following Indiana's Game 1 win on Sunday night.

Cheryl Reeve

Seimone Augustus

Rebekkah Brunson

Taj McWilliams-Franklin

Maya Moore

Lindsay Whalen

Lin Dunn

Tamika Catchings

Briann January

Erlana Larkins

Erin Phillips

2012 WNBA Finals Media Availability - Minnesota

Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx Head Coach

On what happened in the fourth quarter of Game 1:
“We came out and turned the ball over the first two possessions. The very first possession, I’ll own it as a coach when you try to run some things we’re not used to running. We had put a new play in and were trying to run that a couple times and we were trying to run that play at that point. It got us in trouble, we didn’t handle it very well and turned it over. We were a little out of character. Indiana is a big reason for the way that we played. We counted; of the first five possessions we scored one time – (Lindsay) Whalen got a layup. Other than that, and even with that, we were down three with five or six minutes to go and they made plays. They made the tough, dirty, hard plays. We got in the lane and they blocked our shot. They competed, they contested every shot. That led to a couple easy run outs for them and as soon as they got that separation it was basically over.”

On the impact of Erlana Larkins, who spent 2010 and 2011 off of WNBA rosters:
“We see that all the time. When you see them come back the way that Erlana did, it’s like Jessica Adair for us – that story kind of died down a bit because of her knee issues this year. Sometimes players think that they’re really good and they’ve been good for so long and they’re really good in college and all of a sudden they get cut and they don’t know what to do. It is how you handle those moments. I don’t know Larkins that well, but clearly she was a player that listened to whatever advice she got – whether it was the coaches when they cut her or people like Taj (McWilliams-Franklin). You go overseas and you have to figure it out. You have a choice, you can think it was everybody else’s fault except yours or you can accept the information, absorb it and imply it and clearly she did.”

On the mirroring of Indiana’s position this year to the Lynx’ in 2011:
“It is on our minds. We want to make sure that we’re not a team that gets out-hungered. That is really important. We all understand the situation with Indiana, we’re well versed in it. We know there are a lot of people pulling for Tamika Catchings, we understand all of that. We’ve got a lot to overcome and we’ll see if we’re able to.”

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx Guard

On the main takeaways from Game 1:
“We just got to come out and be more aggressive on the defensive end. We had a few little mishaps here and there. Our team is composed of a lot of talented players that can to score the basketball, so that’s not our main concern, but defensively we definitely want to try to get out there more and get to action a little bit more than we did in Game 1.”

On making shots versus execution being the larger factor in Game 1:
“I think that it was a little bit of both. I think that the execution wasn’t as sharp as…the shots we normally take we make, and we didn’t make them last night. But that comes back around to defense. If we’re not scoring, they can’t score either. I think more so than anything we’re focused on defense over offense.”

On the resiliency of the Lynx:
“I think that we got a lot of competitors on our team that really hate to lose, so I guess in Game you’ll see the different. You’ll see us come out and be a little bit more aggressive from start to finish – we’re going to play and give it all that we have.”

Rebekkah Brunson, Minnesota Lynx Forward

On takeaways from Game 1:
“Of course, we would have hoped that we would have come out and played better than we did, had a little bit more energy, tried to dictate things more, and did our game plan. We had a great week of practice. We went over everything we could have possibly gone over, but they came out and they were ready to win. They played great.”

On stopping Erlana Larkins:
“We have to find her early and put a body on her. She is aggressive and she is going to keep going – that’s the reason she is out here. She is going to go and crash [the boards] and get them some extra possessions. We have to match her will and match her intensity.”

On what changes will be made for next game:
“We are still trying to look at the video and see what we can do differently, but we will see what happens tomorrow when we get a good day of practice under our belt.”

Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Minnesota Lynx Forward/Center

On adjustments the team needs to make going into Game 2:
“There are no big adjustments we make going into Game 2. We’ve played the way we’ve been playing to get us to this point. [If] we sharpen what we need to sharpen as far as our execution goes, I think we’ll be fine. We’re not going to sit down and change who we are. We were 27-7, so you don’t change fundamentally who you are, you just sharpen what you do well. Sharpen-up our execution; sharpen-up our fast breaks – basics.”

On what the Fever did differently in Game 1 after dropping their two regular-season meetings to the Lynx:
“It was what we did not do. Our mistakes were glaring when you have a team running back at you and second and third opportunities. The Fever played a great game plan. It was about what you expected in the Finals, and then we compounded it with our mistakes. We’re definitely going to clean all those up.”

On the importance of veteran leadership for the younger players:
“I don’t tell them anything, because when you’re a professional athlete, it has nothing to do with that. We have nine players who played in the Finals last year and Devereaux Peters played in the final game of the NCAA tournament, so I don’t know if you have to tell any player anything. They know the enormity of the situation. They know about losing the home-court advantage, and they know what we have to do to win.”

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx Forward

On what the team took away from Game 1 film:
“It was just not what we wanted to be on offense. We hit some tough shots and did what we had to do to stay in the game and even had a lead there for a little while. There are so many things we can clean up, so many different areas where we want to be more aggressive. In general, that was the frustrating part. We just weren’t sure and aggressive in certain offensive areas and then defensively not being the team that we have been all year. Some of the loose balls, rebounding, giving them some key offensive rebounds and just getting mixed up on our defensive game plan at times. Those are not expected, but they’re all fixable things.”

On how the Lynx can improve their execution for Game 2:
“For whatever reason, we didn’t execute – that’s why it’s frustrating. We still have the game plan that we want to go out and execute. You saw a lot of it in the game of what we wanted to get, we just have to be more persistent.”

On the biggest factor going into Game 2:
“Just going out and being confident and aggressive – staying aggressive and being the aggressor. That was one of the more obvious aspects of watching the film was not being the aggressor the majority of the game. When we were the aggressor, we got the lead. That is absolutely going to happen on Wednesday because that is within our control.”

On the sense of urgency going into Game 2:
“[We have a] very high sense of urgency. All that matters right now is Game 2. We’re looking forward to it; we wish it was right now.”

Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx Guard

On how the Lynx are preparing for Game 2:
“I think we just watch the video, study the tape and just take care of our bodies – I think that’s the most important thing this time of year. Everybody’s got bumps and bruises and you just have to make sure that you’re icing and doing that kind of thing. We have a great coaching staff and a great training staff, so we’ll be doing that for the next couple days and getting ready for Wednesday.”

On the main takeaways from Game 1:
“I think we need to do what we’ve done all year – play as a team and execute some things and be ready to go.”

On the tempo of the game and the back-and-forth fourth quarter:
“I thought that they made some really good plays, so real hustle plays. Unfortunately we missed some shots that we’d like to have back and made some turnovers. [There were] a couple defensive possessions where we gave them some looks. We know that we’ll be ready for Wednesday, though. We’re going to have a great atmosphere in here and it’s going to be really exciting.”

On what they need to change for Game 2:
“I think [we need to] just continue to look at the video and study some things, and then get back out here and have a good day of practice to get ready for the next game.”

2012 WNBA Finals Media Availability - Indiana

Lin Dunn, Indiana Fever Head Coach

On what improvements need to be made for Game 2:
“We got beaten on the boards 38-30. I thought there was a time we were staying fairly even, and then it seemed in the latter parts of the second half they just got three or four offensive rebounds in a row. I don’t know if we got fatigued because we played a lot of minutes, but I thought those rebounds could have ended up biting us. We have to do a better job there. We don’t have to win the boards, but we need to be closer, so that is one area. There were times where Seimone Augustus got loose on us and got some good looks that we didn’t really want her to get. Those two things immediately come to my mind.”

On what has clicked with the Fever over their last three games:
“We’re kind of peaking at the right time. We’ve worked hard in the first training camp, we’ve worked hard in the Olympic training camp that we had again and then a lot of our players have gotten quality minutes because we’ve had injuries. With (Jeanette) Pohlen and Erin Phillips and (Shavonte) Zellous and (Erlana) Larkins and all them having to step in and play quality minutes during the season, that is really paying off for us in the postseason.”

On the hunger to get the Fever’s first title:
“Of course when you’ve never won a title you approach it a little bit different than trying to defend a title. We’ve got players that had a taste of the Finals in 2009 and they know what it was like and how close they came. It was almost like they had their hands on the trophy and it got snatched away. (Tamika) Catchings and (Katie) Douglas and (Briann) January and (Tammy) Sutton-Brown who were there before, they set the tone for this team.”

On how Erlana Larkins ended up on the Fever’s roster this year:
“We needed a rebounder. We needed another post player inside that complimented the post players we already had, someone that would be physically tough, aggressive, and Larkins fit the bill. It doesn’t surprise me that she is playing like she is because she continued to get better the whole season, through both of our two training camps while learning our system. Her effort and her intensity and her hustle and her toughness was there from day one.”

Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever Forward

On stealing home-court advantage in the series:
“I think we’re feeling really well right now – feeling good. Definitely don’t want to get too satisfied. That’s something that I keep talking to the team about, ‘Okay, enjoy last night. Tonight, get off your feet. Tomorrow, we’ll get back in the gym and make adjustments.’ We know that they’re going to come out Wednesday and they’re going to be a much different team and much better. And for us, we have to continue to get better too. We have to make adjustments, and I think it’s going to be an even more physical game on Wednesday, and we’ve got to be ready.”

On preparing for Game 1 without considering the Lynx sweep of the Fever in the regular season:
“Just talking to the team, I think that the big thing is that we played that first game at home and we only lost by two at the buzzer – we even had a chance to win. The last three minutes of the game, it looked back and forth, back and forth. I think when you look at that, it was the same thing when we came out here, the last three or four minutes in the fourth quarter. And so the one focus that we’ve been talking about is 40 minutes. It’s a 40-minute game and this team is too good. You can’t play 36, 37, 38, or even 39 minutes – you have to play 40 minutes, because they’re that good shooting the threes and you’ve got Brunson and them getting boards. We’re just really focused on having a complete game, and that was the mindset going into the game. It doesn’t matter what happens in the regular season. We had an opportunity to win both games and we didn’t, but we know we were right there, and a little something could get us over the edge.”

On using the Fever’s loss from the 2009 Finals as motivation to win this series:
“I’m definitely motivated, but we’re all motivated, and we’re playing like we’re motivated. When you’re out here and you watch from one to 11 – and Katie’s not here with us right now, but she’s with us in spirit – when you’re out there and you can tell one through 11, everyone is motivated and everybody’s inspired, and we want to win, genuinely for each other.”

On how much the team missed Katie Douglas in Sunday’s win:
“We put her jersey in her locker, so it was something that we had with us before the game, going into halftime, and going back in after the game. Of course, she texted us right after the game and we all texted her back. But we definitely had that game dedicated for her.”

Briann January, Indiana Fever Guard

On her ability to contribute as a veteran versus as a rookie in the 2009 WNBA Finals:
“Yeah, just kind of understanding the game, being more comfortable with the speed, the intensity, the importance of the game – just being more comfortable with all that has definitely allowed me to perform better in these type of situations.”

On her understanding of the Finals being different than it was in 2009:
“Definitely, because you’re wrapped up in everything when you’re a rookie. You’re like, ‘This is a huge game, I have to do this and this and this and this, and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming when you see all the fans and you see everybody talking about it and all that. But now, three years later, I’m able to kind of step back and see the game for what it is and really be focused on what I need to be focused on and go about it that way, so I’m enjoying every moment. Stepping back allows me to enjoy every moment of this.”

On being motivated to help Tamika Catchings earn her first WNBA title:
“Most definitely – she’s worked hard; she’s one of the main reasons the Fever has been in the playoffs consistently over the years. She’s a phenomenal player. I can’t express how much she does for this team – [and] not only her, but everybody on this team has put in the work. I want to do this for everybody on our team because we’ve become so close and we’ve put in the work together. We’ve put in the hard work, and it would just be great to win it for this group of girls because they are amazing and they have worked so hard to get here.”

On the crowd in Minneapolis and her anticipation of returning to Indianapolis for Game 3:
“Our fans are some of the best, and I can’t wait to get back there, because I know they’re going to show up, and I know they’re going to be supporting us like they have been all season. It’s always nice to be in front of your fans and have someone cheering for you. They have a nice crowd – it was a whiteout. We had zero cheers when we did something good last night, but that’s awesome that they had such a great turnout, and hopefully, when we get back to Indy, we’ll have the same.”

Erlana Larkins, Indiana Fever Forward

On if she is surprised at where the Fever sit right now:
“I knew I had the ability to play with some of the best, because they come overseas and we play against them. I do the same thing overseas. I think as a team we’re shocking everybody because nobody thinks we’re supposed to be here and everybody thinks Minnesota is going to beat us, but that isn’t the case and we’re not going down without a fight.”

On her two-year hiatus from the WNBA and now being one of the “it” players for the Fever:
“It is just a blessing. It was discouraging because I wasn’t playing, then I got used to not playing and was enjoying myself during the summer. I’m glad to be back and I’m glad to be in the position that I’m in.”

On her hustle type of play:
“I would say yes, [I’ve always played that way], now it’s just another level – this is possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you don’t want to think about the should have, could have, would have’s once it is all said and done.”

On where she fits into Indiana’s offensive scheme:
“I’m just getting in where I fit in. (Tamika Catchings) is an Olympian – we have some play calls for her and play calls for Katie (Douglas), but if you’re just in the right place at the right time and you’re open, your teammates have no choice but to pass you the ball. I just try to move around and get open.”

On what is most important going into Game 2:
“[We need to] come out with the same intensity that we did and try to come out with the same results.”

Erin Phillips, Indiana Fever Guard

On how the Fever discounted the atmosphere in Game 1:
“It’s huge. Running into this arena last night with over 14,000 screaming Minnesota fans was actually quite awesome. I don’t think that I’ve ever played basketball in front of a crowd that big before. For me, it was special, but we just really focused in on what we needed to do, what we had to do. We didn’t get caught up in the emotions too much of the game – we just stuck together and I think that definitely helped.

On the importance of winning Game 1 on the road:
They were such a good team and getting Game 1 is big, but Game 2 is bigger. Game 3 is even more important. So, I think to get Game 1 is big, but we’re not going to get comfortable.”

On the most important thing for the Fever going into Game 2:
“We’re expecting a totally different team. They’re going to come in so hungry, so aggressive – they’re the defending champions and they’re here for the second time for a reason. They’re a great team. I think the good thing about Game 1 is that there’s a lot of improvement that we have to do – rebounding was a big, big thing and we need to do a better job of keeping them off the boards. We’re going to watch film tomorrow, practice and get better. We have to get better, we can’t just sit around and be satisfied that we won Game 1 and give ourselves a pat on the back and that’s it. It’s going to be a much harder game.”