Phoenix Mercury Quotes - Sept. 4

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

On mindset going into Game 1:
Taurasi: “We're coming in here to win just as hard as Detroit is. Playing on the road, it's the first time in the Finals for most of us. It's definitely an experience, but once you throw that ball up, it's just 40 minutes of basketball. We're not going to be nervous. We're excited. If anything we're anxious to get the series underway.”

On two regular-season meetings against Detroit:
Taurasi: “At home, we played without Cappie because she was hurt. We lost (87-84) in the last 20 seconds. Here in Detroit (111-82 loss), we played a good first half, but in the second half, they just went off. They had an amazing game. I don't think we were half as good when we played them a month and a half ago as we are now. We're nothing like that now. Our mindset has changed tremendously.”

On late run to clinch Western Conference and difference in second half of season:
Taurasi: “After we got back from the All-Star break, we made a concerted effort to play much better basketball. We got together in the locker room and decided that this season is really about what we want to do with it. We had some strong personalities that had to mesh, and once we did that, things on the court started to happen for us.”

On big-game experience on the Mercury roster:
Taurasi: “We've got people with a lot of experience. Kelly Miller has been in the playoffs four times before. Tangela Smith went deep into the playoffs with Sacramento. Cappie, when she was with Rutgers, played in some big games. Schuey (Kelly Schumacher) and I won a few championships at UConn. The big-game scenario isn't going to rattle us. We just have to go out there and play good basketball.”

On the contrasting styles of two teams and what Phoenix has to do to win:
Taurasi: “Obviously, when you play Detroit, getting on the boards is huge. The first thing when you think of when you think of Detroit is their size. They are so big and they go after offensive and defensive rebounds like no other team in the league. That's what makes them so hard to beat. You would say that our Achilles heal is our rebounding, but when we do rebound well, that's when we cause problems for other teams. It's just going to be a test of our wills against theirs."

Cappie Pondexter, Phoenix Mercury

On matching up against Deanna Nolan:
Pondexter: “Nolan is a great player and she’s definitely improving tremendously as an outside shooter. She works hard but we can’t really get caught up in matchups because it’s about the team right now. I’m just thankful I’ve got great players around me that allow me to showcase my talent.”

On Phoenix as the underdog:
Pondexter: “We can’t really think about things like that right now. We have a game tomorrow and we just have to come out and play Phoenix Mercury ball. We can’t worry about the storylines; we just have to go out, play and have fun.”

On the importance of being in the Finals to the city and the team:
Pondexter: “Our goal is ‘One team, one city, one goal.’ It means a lot since Phoenix hasn’t been the WNBA Finals since 1997 when our [Assistant Coach] Bridget Pettis was on the team. It helps the women’s game at the same time. We’re excited about it and we’re looking forward to having a great Finals.”

On the keys to beating Detroit:
Pondexter: “The biggest key is to play good defense. We need to box out against them because they’re a great rebounding team.”

On being the road team in the Finals:
Pondexter: “It’s good to have the home court, but when you have something as big as the WNBA Championship on the line, you really can’t think about anything but just competing and playing your best basketball. No matter whether we’re home or away, we just want to compete and have fun at the same time.”

On her success early in her career:
Pondexter: “I give credit to my coach and the players around me. We have a great group. I think we’re really special. We bond really well and get along on and off the court. It has definitely translated to on the court and allowed us to play great basketball.”

Penny Taylor, Phoenix Mercury

On the Playoffs so far:
Taylor: “So far, they’ve been very exciting, we’ve had lots of close games, as have been all the games in the east and west, and its been really enjoyable because we’ve gotten wins and we’ve played really well – I’ve never seen any team be as determined and step up as much as we have.”

On playing in the Olympics vs. playing in the WNBA:
Taylor: “Well the games have been very tight and very competitive, in a similar style, but just another level – these games have been some of the best talent in basketball I’ve ever seen.”

On feeling fatigue:
Taylor: “Maybe I did during the regular season, but now its fine. You don’t feel anything – you’re just going off the energy – you feed off the team, and at the moment, you can play through anything I think.”

On the differences between playing for Australia and playing for the Mercury:
Taylor: "I think in a certain sense it’s the same – we’ve been together for a shorter amount of time but we have a really great chemistry. It’s a competitive atmosphere wherever you’re playing basketball and for whoever you’re playing – it’s the same sense of pride and determination in your game.”

On the series with Detroit:
Taylor: “It’s going to be interesting and it will be a battle of the different styles. I think we have gotten extremely good at our style of running the ball and getting it out and taking off on the fast break and they’re obviously very good at their inside game and pounding away on the boards and that style of game, so its going to be a battle.”

Kelly Miller, Phoenix Mercury

On being back in the Finals:
Miller: “It feels great – once again no one expected us to be back. We’re always out to prove everybody wrong and show what we got.”

On being in the Finals:
Miller: “It’s exciting – we’ve worked hard all season to get here and we’re ready for the challenge – we’re looking forward to it.”

On what she brings to the game:
Miller: “I bring energy and I try to get things going with our running game.”

On winning the series:
Miller: “I think we have to play our game, like we’ve been doing all season and play the way we know how to play and it’ll be okay. They’re a good team, so it will be a challenge, but I think we’re ready for it.”

Tangela Smith, Phoenix Mercury

On being in the Finals:
Smith: “As for myself I’m very, very excited because I’ve waited a long time for this moment and I’m just happy and excited to be here but you know it’s not over yet until we win the championship.”

On her career and this season:
Smith: “I was with Sacramento for seven years, and it was difficult seeing them win a championship without me and having two seasons that weren’t too good for me, and to go from that point to now is just really good for me. As a team we’ve just been up and down all season but we put it together at the right time, so I guess the hardest thing was having that up and down season.”

On the match-up with Detroit:
Smith: “I think we match up with them great – we’re two different types of teams, we like to run and they’re bigger, but I think they’re going to be interesting games, we’ll have to see who has the most heart, who has the most fight.”

On the keys to winning the Championship:
Smith: “I think our key is to continue to do what we do, and don’t change anything for anybody – just continue to do what we do, do what we’ve done for the whole season which is up-tempo, running the ball, rebounding, getting the ball out and just being aggressive.”

Kelly Mazzante, Phoenix Mercury

On the importance of being in the Finals for herself and the team:
Mazzante: “Well for me, it’s obviously the first time and it’s the first time for a lot of the players on our team. I think we’re very excited and we have a good support group in Phoenix. We’re just excited to be here.”

On playing in the Finals in her first year with Phoenix:
Mazzante: “Obviously, I wasn’t even in the Playoffs my first three years in Charlotte, so I’m excited. It’s a good opportunity. We have a great team and great focus right now. We’re excited to get it started tomorrow.”

On her role in the series:
Mazzante: “I think my role is as usual: to come in and do things offensively, be active in the zone defense and just contribute.”

On Phoenix as the road team in the Finals:
Mazzante: “We’re just going to take it one game at a time. I don’t think home-court advantage is really a situation. We just have to take it one game at a time.”

On playing Detroit:
Mazzante: “I think we just need to worry about ourselves. We need to rebound and run and play like we’ve played all season.”

Paul Westhead, Phoenix Mercury

On being in the Finals:
Westhead: “It’s been a long time – I forgot the feeling – but it’s nice to be in the final round with this hardworking team that we have and I’m glad to be here.”

On the upcoming series:
Westhead: “I’m not so sure how it’s going to play out, but I am sure how we’re going to play: we’re going to play as fast as we can with no real attempt to dictate anything – that’s how we play. How Detroit responds, well, it takes two to tango so they have the full option to do whatever they like.”

On the physicality of the series:
Westhead: “As long as it’s physical on the move we’ll be pretty good at that, but physical standing around looking at each other…we’re not good playing slow.”

On Detroit’s rebounding ability:
Westhead: “That is a great strength of theirs. If teams had figured that out they might not be here right now. We don’t have any magic formula, we’re just going to be as attentive to getting missed shots as we can and hopefully limit their second efforts.”

Bridget Pettis, Phoenix Mercury

On coaching in the Finals:
Pettis: “Obviously it’s been great just to be in this position – it’s been a long time coming for this organization. It’s something that I’ve always wanted for this organization and just as a (former) player it’s great to see your input and your philosophy of the game manifested on the court.”

On transitioning from player to coach in Phoenix:
Pettis: “It’s awesome – it’s the best feeling ever, especially a place where your heart is. Even the older players that I’ve talked to – Jennifer Gillom and Timmsy – the support behind them has been phenomenal. We have a great group of girls – they’re all focused – and they have it in them to take it.”

On the differences between being a player and being a coach:
Pettis: “I think its harder being a player – as a coach you don’t feel as much pressure as they do as players. I try and step outside of it now. I have a different view of the game, I’ve realized how much pressure it is to be a player - to have to go out there and do it. Even when I was playing I was always the type of player that spoke a lot and said, ‘This is what we have to do!’ But then having to do it … there’s more pressure on the players for sure.”

On the series with Detroit:
Pettis: “I think it’s going to be great, it’s going to be one of the best finals out there. The talent out there that they have is just phenomenal and our talent … I think it’s going to be a very up-tempo game and if we can get them to play that game I think we have the card on that one.”