Bill Laimbeer, Detroit Shock
BILL LAIMBEER opening statement: All right. Well, obviously it's a good win for us. Man down, Cheryl Ford today, our players top to bottom 1 through 11 picked it up. Great contributions from our bench. Magnificent contributions from our bench and players who have played roles all year long stepped forward today. We all know what Plenette Pierson does all the time. Kara Braxton had a monster game, used her size well, was very patient. Elaine Powell played very well out there. Leading the floor. We did what we wanted to do with the outset of the game. That was to go inside as often as possible to test the inside of their zone defense. And we were successful at it. They ran like they were said they were going to and we got out there and for the most part ran with them. We got back in transition, they got some easy baskets, okay, that's going to happen with a team like that. But overall I thought we got back well, we fanned out and defended the perimeter well, fourth quarter got a bit hairy, they kept driving and getting some foul calls and going to the free throw line. Those minutes that was the highest scoring quarter you're going to see in this league ever. But overall, bottom line, I told our troops, we haven't done anything yet. We have done what we were supposed to do is win our home games. And that's how we played the whole year, regular season, to play at home. And we got out and took care of business.
When did you know that Cheryl would not be able to play?: BILL LAIMBEER: Knowing for sure and knowing are two different things. I pretty much knew when I came yesterday morning that we had a problem. And I mentioned that this was the worst that she had been. This morning we came to practice and it was clear that we had a big problem. That it was probably not going to happen, you still hold out hope. But at the end of the day, you know, if you take away the last four games, when we rested all of our players, we played very well without Cheryl. We won a lot of close games, just like this one, we gutted it out. We probably, I think 8-1 in one stretch there before in the last four games and I think that the players know how to play if she's not out there.
You said that you guys won a lot of games without Cheryl, but what is it about Kara, she always just seems to really step it up especially in Cheryl's absence?: BILL LAIMBEER: Well I think Kara, it can run hot and cold. When she's on, she's very good. When she's not focused, she's not very good. Tonight she started off poorly, no question about that, and we lectured her about it. And once she got going, the momentum just kept building for her and I'm very happy for her. But as I will tell her, it's only one game. We want it every game. And that's what we expect. And if she stays focused, she will do okay. And that's what we're hoping for.
Do you think there's extra incentive for Plenette to play well against Phoenix and is tonight's performance just proof what a great heist it was to get her from Phoenix?: BILL LAIMBEER: You said that, I didn't. Answer to the first part of the question, I think Plenette is over the fact that she's no longer in Phoenix. I don't think that plays any role in it. I know Plenette is very focused today to win a championship again. She is a solid player for us, she knows that this is a big stage, that she can perform on, she has all the confidence in the world that she happens to be on our team is a great bonus.
You mentioned in terms of the bench performances, does the fact that Kara and Katie and your bigs were able to do what they did today make you feel okay if you can't go with Cheryl in Game 2 and do you know what the status is?: BILL LAIMBEER: The status going into the game was she was not going to play and that we were shooting for her to play on Saturday. Now whether that is still the case, that's what we're going to find out come Saturday morning. We won't know with Cheryl Ford until we get there on game day and even then early on the day and probably won't know sometimes. She will not practice it's, will not even get out there and run anything until the ball gets tipped up, if she's on the floor. If she's able to play, she will start. But that's -- and that's okay. We're comfortable with that because we have solid players, and if she plays, super. If she doesn't, then she's going to be a tremendous cheerleader for us.
You went with Katie and Kara together for awhile in the second quarter and had some success, is that something that you think you'll do more as the series goes on take advantage of the size? : BILL LAIMBEER: Well, I had to get Plenette some rest. She played yeoman's minutes and had two fouls and Plenette is such a hard worker that I didn't need a third foul on her. When Katie and Kara in the game, unless they're playing both of their bigs, we're going to have to commit to a zone defense which I thought in the first half was very successful for us. Second half wasn't so hot. But in the first half it worked well for us, got us back in the game and got us a lead. And with those two big towers in there against their zone, they have a difficult time trying to stop us on the inside because we're just so big. So it's an option for us that we can look at.
Penny Taylor seemed to give you some minutes defensively, were you trying to get your players to switch off on her because I saw you talking to them?: BILL LAIMBEER: Really didn't do a whole lot of anything on her. There in the second half. Whether we wanted to switch or a hedge or keep her in front, we didn't do anything. She took the ball, put her head down and drove to the basket. No matter what we did, we cut her off, but she just powered over and got the calls going to the foul line which helped them out a lot. How we will guard her in the next game is what we'll keep close to the vest.
What did you want to do, switch off?: BILL LAIMBEER: We would have liked to have seen a couple switches there, unfortunately the way they run their offense you get a little bit of a caught up in and in guarding your own player because they're perimeter team and they go so fast on their weave that sometimes you're out of position.
Talk about the job that you guys did on Pondexter and Diane Taurasi?: BILL LAIMBEER: Well doing a job on them is probably a bad statement. I think that in the first half Cappie Pondexter did not shoot well. Diane Taurasi was in foul trouble. And then you get in foul trouble early in the game it really throws your whole game for a loop. It's so hard to get it back when you have to sit and you're not into the flow of the game. So it, in the second half I thought that Diana Taurasi came out nailing shots and Cappie Pondexter was looking for her shot and connecting and that really gave them a big juicy lift. Fortunately, as the half wore along, we played a little bit more solid defense and I told our players, I hate to say this because we gave up a hundo, but that was a pretty good defensive effort on our part. And that's kind of weird to say in this league. But I thought our defense was well, we did well.
You were traded from Phoenix to Detroit. Is there any extra incentive for you this series going up against Phoenix or not really?: PLENETTE PIERSON: Not really. It was great for me to be traded to Detroit. I'm happy for them and their success, but it's not extra motivation for me, it's a business.
Kara, do you feel that you could keep up with their strength and size today or is that a matchup problem?: KARA BRAXTON: No, I came out tried to do whatever I could do for the team. We're a man down right now so I know we had to step up and just luckily it was a good day for me.
Do you guys deal with Ford out tonight did you have to step up the game?: PLENETTE PIERSON: Definitely. We both knew coming into this came as well as Katie Feenstra that we were going to have to pick up the rebounds and get some buckets on the inside. And it was a great day for both of us. Even Katie Feenstra, who didn't play a lot tonight she contributed in a big way and everything was just going for us. We knew that they had a small inside group and we just had to bang it inside.
Kara, how tough is it to keep up with that team running as much as they do?: KARA BRAXTON: Well it's the end of the season so I'm a little in shape now, okay? (Laughter.) No, it's fine. They're a great running team and we do our thing inside, we pass the ball a lot, bang it inside, they run. So we knew the challenges that we had facing us when we came in here. So we're pretty good. I'm good. If that's a question. I'm great. Just want to say that. I'm not good at this, if y'all didn't know.
Your bench out scored their's 50-6, do you see that sort of success in the future or is that just, how did that help out?: PLENETTE PIERSON: Definitely I think our team we have five all-stars starting but any given night anyone can come in off that bench and be a supporting cast or be the main focus on our team. We have a lot of all-stars on our team. Whether we're actually an all-star or an all-star in our heart we just do our jobs and can do it any given night.
Kara, what is it that gets you going in kind of makes you have a good day? Getting a block at one end or getting a lot of feeds at the other end getting the ball, what do you I this?: KARA BRAXTON: You know, I really am not really offensive minded. I would rather pass it to my teammate or do something like that. Once I hear about my rebounds and I hear my teammates, I feed off my team. When I hear my teammates when I hear them cheering for me and saying congratulating me on just a little anything little I just feed off that and it just builds and builds.
Do you think it went back the other way today that they fed off of you? : KARA BRAXTON: Yeah, yes. Yeah, you can say that. I played pretty good today. And they love when I play good. The sparks that I do. So, yeah, they fed off of it a little bit.
The remarks Sheryl said earlier was that this is probably the best game she's ever seen you play. Do you agree with her? : KARA BRAXTON: Yeah. (Laughter.) I hope to play better in the near future. Like Saturday.
Kara, you played with some with Katie in the second quarter which is not a combination, what was that like and do you guys really, you really took advantage, seemed like you guys were able to take advantage of the size with the two of you in there?: KARA BRAXTON: Actually it was pretty fun. Like you said I really don't play too much with Katie at the same time. But it was like whatever you guys call us the two headed monster or something. It was fun. Like I say, I love basketball, if she can post up, I let her go. Like it it's great for me to watch because I love cheering on my teammates. So it was a plus for me.
Katie Feenstra, Detroit Shock
On her first WNBA Finals appearance: KATIE FEENSTRA: "It was fun. It was fun. It's not over. It’s just one game. We've got to win two more in order to win it. It's going to be tough. They're going to bring it hard. If anyone loses they want to redeem themselves the next time around so it's not over yet."
On her frustration in the first quarter: KATIE FEENSTRA: “It was what it was. The game is a long game. When I got out they talked to me about it. I didn't know where the trap was coming from so we adjusted."
On game plan for tonight: KATIE FEENSTRA: “It was to use the post. It's easy to shoot the three-ball against the team but we wanted to use the post as much as possible."
Katie Smith, Detroit Shock
On Detroit and Phoenix playing contrasting styles of basketball: KATIE SMITH: “I think that [Detroit] is pretty versatile. We’ve got bigs that can run, we’ve got bigs that can rebound, we’ve got guards that run. We’re a very athletic team top to bottom, we’re pretty deep. We feel like we can play whatever needs to be done. We obviously want to play to our strengths and not get into a shoot-out with them and take crazy shots, but understand when to run and when not to run
On if she was surprised by Phoenix’s early foul trouble: KATIE SMITH: “Not necessarily. We’ve played them before and they’ve done that before. We attack. Even though they play a zone, we have to attack and make them guard you. They got a lot of turnovers off of us and we lost the ball a lot. We’re going to keep attacking and make them guard us.”
On the importance of winning both games at home: KATIE SMITH: “It is big because we’re trying to keep the home court but also Phoenix is tough at their place. We just want to go out and take care of business and win our home games. It is going to be big, being up 2-0 instead of 1-1 going into their place would be a big thing. No matter what happens on Saturday, we’re just going to keep grinding it out.”