WNBA Finals - Phoenix Game 2 Quotes, Sept. 8, 2007

Phoenix Mercury

Paul Westhead

Coach Paul Westhead: Well, it was nice to get a win. Now we go back home and hopefully we can continue the play that we just had today. But at least we have kind of evened the score and you can only take advantage of what you do. But at least on paper, we now have home court advantage. But that's only if you take advantage of it. But we're happy. It was a good win for our players. Diana Taurasi kind of stepped up and said, "Well, I think I'll bring my game with me today." And she did.

Do you think Diana was motivated by the talk that somehow she struggled against Detroit?
Westhead: Yeah, I don't know. Someone asked me had I talked to her about it and I said no, we have had no conversation, because -- and my response even yesterday was that D's going to show up and play her game and it's going to be more than ample about 98 percent of the time, no matter who the opponent is.

So if there is a game or two during the season or the playoffs where she struggles and gets in foul trouble, there is no pattern here, folks. So she's a very competitive athlete and she's going to come play her best and sometimes like all of us, it doesn't work.

When they decided to go small and in the second quarter, they didn't have Braxton or anyone out on the floor, did you feel like maybe they were playing into your hands ultimately?
Westhead: Not really. We tried to make some zone adjustments anyway and we thought we had done that. Whether they had their bigs in or not. Changing lineups doesn't really affect us as much as other teams because our goal is to get that ball and push it as fast as we can. So if you push it against bigs, push it against smalls, we're really doing the same thing. We had nice get outs today and a nice game by Kelly Miller who she wasn't distributing the ball she was rebounding the ball.

What about Tangela Smith?
Westhead: Tangela Smith, well the only thing she did wrong was she made two threes in a row that's why I took her out. I said, "You make two in a row like that you come out." I had already subbed for her and it was a 20 second sub. So she looked at me. "Okay, I'll make three next time." She had a great game. She had a presence about her. Everyone talks about, like, well you have playoff experience people, Tangela Smith is a playoff experienced person and she kind of showed it tonight.

Could you please talk about what you did do differently defensively inside to stop them.
Westhead: Basically we stayed with our rover defense. We did that in the first half and played a little man for a minute. We tried to jam it down into the paint more than we did last game. So the rover, Diana Taurasi, who does a lot of this instinctively, we just kind of said to her, see if you can slide down the lane and get under and get inside rather than playing more outside. And she did it superbly. So I mean it wasn't like we reinvented a lot of things, we just simply tried to stop that plethora of inside scoring that was exhibited on Wednesday.

Could you talk a little bit more about Kelly Miller, just the energy she brings and will the little plays she makes throughout the course of a game?
Westhead: Yeah. Well, our players, if you ask them, everybody talks about well who is most valuable, who is your most important player. Our players would probably say Kelly Miller is their most valuable player. Because as you see, she does all of those little intangibles over and over and over again at about a hundred miles an hour. Where others even on our team seem to tire, want to catch their breath, she's motoring the ball, ahead of them, saying, "Where is everybody?"

But, and at the end of all of that, someone takes a shot and she's gone down the lane to rebound it, to get an offensive rebound and will be the first person back on defense if it doesn't work. So I don't know how you get much better in effort than Kelly Miller.

Diana Taurasi and Tangela Smith

After the struggles in Game 1, how important was it for you personally to come out and have, get your touch back early tonight?
Taurasi: I wasn't too focused on it. The way we played this year and the way we have gone about games, it's not just one person that gets us off. And Game 1, I struggled personally, but the team as a whole I thought we played well. Not good enough to win but we saw spurts of what we did during the year to kind of bring it over to Game 2. So today was just everybody feeling good, feeling confident and playing like that.

Thirty-point blow out, heading back to Phoenix, about how much of a momentum shift is this for you guys?
Taurasi: It's huge. No matter what, in any series you want to at least get one on the road. And Detroit is a tough place to play at. They play really well here and the crowd gets into it. They heckle, they go after you hard. So to come here and play well and actually win the game, going back to Phoenix 1-1 is huge for our team. I really think it's going to be key.

Do you feel like you have to close it out there because they play so well?
Taurasi: I think we're just going to have to take Game 3 right now. We can't look at it, well we got to win two in a row. Because you got to win one to win two. To win two in a row. So if that makes sense, right? So we got to win one first.

Coach talked about you providing some veteran leadership today, was there anything you tried to do specifically to get everybody calmed down after the first game?
Smith: No, I think everybody was pretty much calm because we know that this is a five game series and one game, if it was a one game series, we should have been mad about it, but it's not andeverybody stayed calm and we just went out there today and pretty much played our game plan and we just, we were more aggressive. Our defense was on point. So we just wanted to do that and stay calm on that.

Do you expect them to be mad in Game 3? Coach Laimbeer was saying they're going to come out mad because of what happened?
Taurasi: Shoot, I would be mad.

You would be?
Taurasi: After getting beat by 30, I would be furious.

Tangela, you were pumped up after those two threes, sorry that you had to come out?
Smith: No, coach said that, didn't he. Coach said when you hit two shots, you got to come out.


No, I was just taking what was given to me and I think everybody on the team was doing the exact same thing. My teammates found me and I felt comfortable. So I just continued to shoot the ball. Fortunately it went in.

Both of you talk about Kelly Miller's role and what she does for you.
Taurasi: Coach always talks about it, you got the four wheels, Cappie, Penny, Tangela, and me. Kelly really is the motor. She gets this team going. Every chance for them to kind of get into it, it was either Kelly Miller tip-in or Kelly Miller offensive rebound, defense rebound, she pushes the tempo. She does so much for us. She really is the, unsung hero. We get a lot of the credit, but it really is a lot of Kelly Miller that gets us, gets us our opportunities. So she's just amazing, she really is amazing.

Smith: We definitely wouldn't be in this position without her. Because she's done so much to help this people. With the offensive rebounding, she sparks our defense too because she's always in the passing lanes. And I just feel that without Kelly we wouldn't be in the position that we are in now. Without all of our teammates, but definitely Kelly Miller.

You talked about defense. Major adjustments, minor adjustments?
Smith: We pretty much stuck to what we usually do. We made some adjustments. But basically it's all about us and what we got to bring out there. When we come out there on the court we know we need to play aggressive and we know that just to go out there and just to try to bang with them, but whatever, whatever, we need to just do our game plan and go out there and do what we need to do.

Are you okay with a split?
Smith: Are we okay with a split?
Taurasi: It would have been nice to win two, but one is nice, I guess.
Smith: Yeah.
Taurasi: We'll take one.
Smith: We're going home now.
Taurasi: Got to buy coach some new shoes now.

New shoes, how come?
Taurasi: We're sitting there --
Smith: Ask him about that.
Taurasi: We were sitting there, we look down and coach has got two different pairs of shoes on. So that was the talk of the -- that was our game plan is to get coach two matching shoes.
Smith: A brand new pair of shoes.

Was it brown and break?
Smith: No, they were two black shoes.
Taurasi: One was gator leather and the other had a buckle penny loafer. It was weird.

What was it again?
Taurasi: Never mind.

Taurasi: One was gator leather and the other was like a penny loafer type shoe. You know coach is a little old, we got to get him into style.

You don't think he may have done that on purpose?
Taurasi: No, because he was as red as those chairs. He was all he was feeling the heat.

So some more poetry or music or something?
Taurasi: He needs some fashion tips. We'll hook him up though. We'll get him ready for next year.

Cappie Pondexter

On putting the game away in the second half:
Pondexter: Yeah, it was a credit to our defensive aggressiveness and to the way Tangela and Dee [Diana Taurasi] shot the ball – they shot the heck out of the ball – when it’s like that we’re unstoppable.

On closing out the series at home:
Pondexter: Well you know that’s the plan, if it works that way, but we still have to work for it, and Detroit’s not going to go away that easy, they’re the defending champions and they’re the champions for a reason.

On looking forward to returning home:
Pondexter: Oh yeah, I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed. It’s been a long five days.

On her expectations for Game 3:
Pondexter: Well, we know it’s going to be a close Game 3, they’re going to come out really aggressive. Detroit’s a great basketball team, they’re going to go back and watch some film, and they’re going to come out really hard and I think we’re just going to have to match their intensity. It’s big for us that we’re going back home and have a crowd with us, we’re 1-1, and like I said, it’s just a game really.

Penny Taylor

On the team’s hot shooting:
Taylor: Yeah that helps, but like Game One, our shooters never got going, and that’s the way we play and tonight we did what we’ve been doing all season.

On evening the series:
Taylor: Well now we go home and now we have our crowd and our energy and it can’t hurt. We know we’ve got to get two more games, so we’re happy with this win, its back to zero-zero, but we’ve still got to get those wins in Phoenix.

On Taurasi’s play:
Taylor: Yeah, she was just shooting so well and getting open shots and really just shot well and was confident in every shot.

On the team’s defense:
Taylor: Yeah, we just did the same things we were supposed to do in Game One, just more consistently and better and had a bigger focus on their inside play. I think they found it difficult with doubling down on the post and they couldn’t get the ball out, so we were successful in the things we had planned to do.

On the difficulty of defending their shooters:
Taylor: Oh yeah, ask them that. It’s tough, you can’t defend everyone and especially when we’re running the ball and taking three’s in transition, that’s the beauty of what we do.