by John Schuhmann

DETROIT, Aug. 31, 2006 -- The Shock were in a serious mood as practice opened around 11 o'clock this morning. They focused on perimeter defense, which was certainly an issue last night in Game 1 as Kara Lawson and Nicole Powell lit them up for 10 bombs from downtown. Coach Bill Laimbeer had them working on getting through screens to prevent open looks like the Monarchs got in the opener.

And even though they had finished Game 1 only 13 hours earlier, he did not take it easy on them, as he and fellow Bad Boy Rick Mahorn set the screens themselves. Talk about punishment.

But even if the Shock can do a better job of getting a hand in the face of the Sacramento shooters, they will still need a better effort from some of their key players, namely Swin Cash.

Frustrated with what he saw from his small forward, Laimbeer gave her a quick hook in both halfs, and she played just 11 minutes on Wednesday. She took just two shots and did not score.

It was a frustrating night for Cash.
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
In speaking about both Cash and center Ruth Riley today, Laimbeer said, "They just got physically pushed around on the inside. They have to step their game up mentally and physically."

Deanna Nolan believes the mental part is key for Cash.

"I think she thinks about the game itself too much, instead of letting it come to her," Nolan told us. "You can't go there saying 'I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna do that.' You have to let it come and let your game flow. I think that was one of the things we all did wrong."

It's not the first time Cash has had a disappointing game in these playoffs however. Just four days earlier, she had a similar performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference and recovered nicely in the deciding Game 3, leading the team with 16 points and eight boards.

To her credit, Cash did not seem to worked up about what went wrong in Game 1, believing it was more of a lack of playing time than a poor performance. And she knows what needs to be done in order to help her team even the series on Friday.

"For me, I just have to come out there and play my game," she told us. "I'm not gonna change too much, but I'm just gonna go out there and do what I do."

Her teammates expect the same type of recovery we saw in Connecticut from her here in the Finals.

"Any time you have a disappointing game," Katie Smith said, "and I can speak personally, you're ready to get on the floor again and go out there and contribute to your ball club. I know she'll go out there and she'll give us the energy that we always need out of her."

They Know How to Come Back

The Shock lost 11 games during the regular season, but only once did they drop two straight. That's a sign of a mentally tough team, one that doesn't let the previous result affect the next one.

"I think it's the competitor in you," Smith said. "It's kind of a pride thing in a way. Last night was disappointing and partly embarassing in some spurts. You want to get on that floor again and show that we are a better basketball team."

So don't expect a carbon copy of Game 1 Friday night. The Monarchs certainly aren't.

"They're obviously a very good team and bouncing back has been one of their strengths," Nicole Powell told us. "We definitely expect them to be focused and play hard."

Happy Happy

Once practice broke, the seriousness of the Shock took a break as well. After all, it was time to celebrate. Today is Plenette Pierson's 25th birthday and her teammates serenaded her with Stevie Wonder's version of "Happy Birthday." Taking us back to grade school, Pierson then passed out cupcakes.