WNBA Finals - Phoenix Game 5 Quotes, Sept. 16, 2007

Phoenix Mercury

Paul Westhead

Opening Statement:
Coach Paul Westhead: Well, it's a great feeling -- it's a great feeling. The players, I think, intentionally went straight at me with the champagne. The celebration was to see if we can get him. They've been trying to get me all season.

First I want to say I think it's a great series. Any time you're 2-2, I think it shows that both teams belong and could easily have won a championship.

We came out today and made shots, and you know, that's what we do. So when we make shots, we put ourselves in a great position to be on the top end, hard to beat when they're scoring like that.

You've got a ring from way back when, 1980. How does this compare?
Westhead: Believe it or not, I think there was more champagne for this one (laughing). At least my players 27 years ago didn't worry about getting me, you know, sprayed. These players they were gunning for me.

But it's a great feeling. I mean, to be honest, I was happy with one in a lifetime. You don't need multiple championships.

But this was very enjoyable. And mostly because I've gone on record, just this group has been a delight to coach. I mean, I've used the line from the song "Drift Away," and I sincerely mean it. I said it to them again, "Thanks for the joy that you've given me. This has been fun."

You told them that afterwards?
Westhead: I told them that afterwards. And you know, they just play so hard, they're such a team, a group. You know, we get different people helping us. Penny Taylor from Game 4 to Game 5, you wouldn't believe the change in her performance. She was spectacular.

Even after you won the game in Phoenix the other day, how much concern did you have coming back here to Detroit's home, playing with the crowd? How much concern was that for you?
Westhead: I wasn't like -- well, in a sense I was thrilled. Because there for a while, I didn't think we were ever going to get here. But once we had tied it up, to be honest, we didn't really care where we were going to then play.

We just wanted to exhibit our speed game, and try to get our break going. We knew it would be very difficult to play here. But you know, if you're going to win a championship, you have to win it somewhere. And you have to perform very well.

So I think when you get to Game 5, home court advantage almost disappears. It's a one-game, and hopefully the better team wins.

Can you just talk about Cappie's performance in the playoffs in general in this series, specifically?
Westhead: You know, it's really hard on our team to pick an MVP. We've been debating this all season.

You know, Penny Taylor certainly was our great performer throughout the season. We don't win anything without Diana Taurasi. Cappie Pondexter proves surely in the playoffs that she was the key player for us in all of the playoffs, especially this last series.

And I repeat again, if you were to ask our team, they'd probably say well, obviously, Kelly Miller's our MVP.

But back to Cappie, I mean, well deserved. I mean, she made every big basket in Game 4, and again today when in doubt, we just spread that court out and gave her the ball and said, "Hey, do your thing, girl." And she just breaks people down. She's a relentless offensive player who goes right at you. Well-deserved award on a team that had three or four other people that really were very valuable.

If I can just follow up: I was going to ask you about Miller. She's sort of an unsung hero on this team?
Westhead: Pardon me? Miller.
Westhead: Yeah, well, Kelly Miller, she's the point guard who runs our offense and makes us go fast. I think sometimes our players feel tired, but they say, Uh-oh, here goes Kelly with the ball. She will not let them slow down.

So she's the speed that keeps our fast break, and therefore open shots coming over and over again.

Kelly Miller

On being champions:
Kelly Miller: Itís unbelievable. Itís something that we worked hard for all season. Right now itís kind of surreal Ė I canít believe weíve done this Ė but this team really deserves it. Weíve worked really hard.

On thinking the Mercury would be here at the start of the season:
Miller: After last season I knew we had the potential. We came out strong at the end of the season and we continued to play like that and just improve and work together as a team. I knew we could be here Ė I really did have confidence that we could get here and itís exciting.

On being the first team to clinch on the road:
Miller: Thatís very exciting too since itís never been done, but I had confidence we could come in here and play a hard game and thatís what we did.

On the unselfishness of the Mercuryís:
Miller: This team is incredibly unselfish. Everyone can score, so that makes it hard to guard us and itís such a fun team to play with. Itís incredible.

Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor

Cappie, given how many of your teammates had great series, how did it feel to be named the MVP?
Cappie Pondexter: It feels great. But, you know, I know it came along with help from my teammates, and they did a great job just believing in me. I just, I don't know. Just giving me the confidence to go out there and play.

At what point did you guys realize that you were going to win the championship?
Penny Taylor: About a minute from the end. When they started subbing people out. They're such a good team that you can't count them out until the siren goes. Maybe a minute early.

But, yeah, I mean we were there, and we knew they could come back at any moment even though we had quite a lead the whole game.

Could this game have started any better that you guys shot over 70% in the first quarter and really set the tone there?
Diana Taurasi: Ever since I woke up Friday morning, I kept saying we're due to have a good game. I mean, four games that we played like crud for four games, really. In our opinion, after watching film after watching ourselves, and we didn't put it all together.

You know, just looking at the stat sheet, everything that we've focused on all year kind of came into play tonight. You know, 97% from the free-throw line, 52 from the floor, 100 points.

All the things that people said we couldn't do and win the championship, today was kind of full circle. And that doesn't come without these two playing like monsters today. Without Kelly Miller doing what she does. Without Kelly Mazzante coming off the bench and hitting three.

It was really nice for everything to come full circle and come together. Kind of like Coach had envisioned two years ago, so this was kind of a culmination all of that.

Can you put in perspective what this championship means to you?
Taylor: Yeah, it means a lot, because I've been playing in this league for seven years, and never gotten to this point, let alone won it. So it's huge. And it feels so much more better because I'm doing it with these girls. And the chemistry we have on our team is almost impossible to have in any situation in World Basketball. And you know, we have it, and we have the right people with the right attitudes, and we got the job done.

You've won titles in college, the Olympics, how does this compare to those?
Taurasi: This is sweet. I was talking to Penny in the locker room two months ago, we were 7-7, you know. Sitting, you know, at U.S. Airways thinking, Man, are we going to make the playoffs again? And there came a point in the season where we challenged each other, and really put the responsibility on each player to really play up to their potential every night.

You know, sometimes when you have great talent it doesn't always workout. But we found a way to maximize every little bit of talent we had. And we're just a tough team. You know, coming into the series, how are we going to match up with all this physicality. We're just as tough as anyone out there. And I think we proved it over the five games.

I know you guys are the top scorers, but I know you appreciate the efforts of Miller. Can you just, Diana, talk about her contributions maybe overlooked sometimes?
Taurasi: You know, I said it before. You've got the wheels and Penny, Cappie, myself and Tan, and then you've got Kelly Miller, And she's the motor. If the motor's not working, all the other pieces really don't count.

Like Coach said, I think we all take a lot of pride in Kelly Miller being, you know, the center of our team. She might not get a lot of credit, but in house, we know how much she means to us.

Yeah, Cappie, unlike Diana, you didn't win a championship in college?
Taurasi: Sorry, Cappie.

But you know, Tennessee kind of got you a few times there. But how does this feel to you to be able to do that, you know, after those disappointments?
Pondexter: It feels great. I'm happy right now. I know, you know, God, everything happens for a reason. And I'm right here sharing it with a UConn fellow. And then Penny, and the rest of these guys, so it's even better.

You know, it's like a long-time coming. It's something I've been waiting for, working hard for, and it's finally here. So I'm extremely happy.

First of all, it's been a pretty good 12 months for you. You won a gold medal in the World Championships?
Taurasi: Can we not mention that right now?

And also you said I'm not going to have another game like I did Thursday. And really came out and showed that from the beginning?
Taylor: Well, yeah, like I said earlier, it can't get much worse than that, and we won the game anyway, and that is the thing like Diana said, we haven't had great games, but we won games anyway.

That is purely the credit to the heart of this team. The determination. Even when it looks bad, we stick together and somehow find a way to get the job done, and we've done it all season.

I'm just so happy that we did it tonight also and the other question was? Oh, the Worlds. I mean, yeah, it's been a great year. What more can I ask for? The Worlds was unbelievable. And this is just as good.