Detroit Guard Scores 24 To Spark Second Half Rally
Nolanís MVP Performance Leads Shock To Title
By Matthew Brennan, WNBA.com
DETROIT, Sept. 9 -- The Detroit Shock are known for having a formidable starting lineup, arguably the most talented in the WNBA. However, in their run to the championship in the 2006 WNBA Finals, the one player who was judged to be the Most Valubable Player was guard Deanna Nolan. Nolan scored a game-high 24 points in Game 5 to lead the Shock to an 80-75 victory and the franchise's second WNBA Championship.
"It's feel great to be WNBA Champions for the second time," Nolan said. "This one is even more special because of how much hard work we put in this season, nobody expected us to be here, for there to be a Game 5. We showed a lot of heart and effort in the second half to come back."
In Game 5, Nolan was the lynchpin of the Shock's second half comeback. The Shock trailed 44-36 at halftime, but from the start of the third quarter Nolan, who shot only 4-13 in the first half, did not hesitate to come out firing to help her team. Nolan was a vital part of a 10-0 run to start the second half, as Detroit went from a 44-36 deficit to a 46-44 lead. The run put the momentum in the Shock's favor, and Sacramento would struggle to recover for the remainder of the game.
"We were running out and getting a lot of fast break points, we were really pushing it in the second half," Nolan said. "We had them on their heels, we got easy buckets and cut that deficit in half, and the crowd stayed behind us and we had the momentum."
"Winning the MVP is just an extra bonus," Nolan said. "I wish I could give a piece to each of our teammates, they got me open, got me the ball at the right time, and I was just knocking down the shots.
Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer feels that Nolan's accolades were well deserved, but he still feels that Nolan is capable of even more.
"Every year her game has elevated," Laimbeer said. "I hope that this sparks her to bigger and better things. She has so much more in her than what she has shown, and I hope that this will make her that much more of a marquee player."
"I agree with him," Nolan said. "Everything that happens on the court, everything I do is just a matter of me having that mindset and that effort everygame to want to go out and do it. He wants me to be the best player that I can be."
When asked about how Nolan had managed to get open so many times against Sacramento's vaunted defense, Laimbeer was quick to give the credit to Nolan's natural ability, rather than any strategy employed by the coaching staff.
"That's who she is," Laimbeer said. "She has so much talent that if you just watch her every night and see the plays that she makes, you don't fully appreciate what she can do.
"When she wants to turn it on, you can't stop her, you can't stay with her, you can't challenge her shot. She passes the ball and she can rebound. I hope that this is the launching pad for her to become the best player in the league. If so, you can't touch us, we're unbeatable."
With two WNBA titles and now an Finals MVP on her resume, Nolan has still only touched her full potential. Her continued development into one of the WNBA's best players should be one of the most intriguing developments as the Shock seek to defend their title in the 2007 season.