Bill Laimbeer - Detroit Shock Head Coach
Q: What is Plenette Piersonís injury status?
Bill Laimbeer: Having today will help a lot. I havenít talked to the trainer yet. Weíll call it a game-time decision and thatís not trying to fool anybody. She is significantly injured. We can get the swelling down, but then when she fatigues it, it comes back. Itís really the swelling that causes the problem.
Q: How do you replace Piersonís defensive presence?
BL: Olayinka Sanniís pretty athletic, but weíve always got the ďall-world defenderĒ [Katie Smith] out there Ė who just happens to be only a second-team All-Defense pick.
Q: How do you intend to guard against Becky Hammon?
BL:Well, I donít know strategically why I would ever give you guys our game plan before we play our first game. Weíre going to try to limit her from scoring 30. Howís that strategy?
Q: How has your team overcome the various injuries and other absences and changes that your team has experienced throughout the season?
BL: You know, we donít make excuses, we go play. We have great players. We have determined players, we have championship players. We have what we have. We think we can win no matter what weíve got. Thatís one of our best traits. Whether we have nine bodies, eight, ten, whatever, letís go play basketball Ė weíre coming to win.
Q: Can you identify any key matchups in this series?
BL: You donít really know until you start to play the game. We have new stuff we have put in, we have stuff still to play. The first game is kind of a ďfeeling outĒ process. It doesnít matter whether you win or lose the first game. The second game is a matter of how many adjustments you make, and how you can take advantage of what you see on film. The third game is a lot of the same. That first game, you just go do and see what works against the other team.
Q: What is the difference between your team now and the one that lost twice to San Antonio in the regular season?
BL: We know each other much better. Weíre a much better defensive team than we were then. The first time we were here and we lost, we didnít get a couple of calls down the stretch and still had an opportunity to win the game Ė but we missed a shot at the end of regulation. Ok, so we lost the game. The second game, we were still in ďsuspension mode,Ē and our brains were gone. We were just trying to get to the break and we lost at home. The first game, here, I think was indicative of some of the things you might see here in Game 1. I think weíre a better defensive team with Taj [McWilliams-Franklin], but weíre not as good an interior team, or as good a rebounding team than with Cheryl [Ford]. Itís a little bit of a tradeoff.
Q: Is it any different being that you donít have homecourt advantage in this series?
BL: Yes Ö and no. I canít go in the locker room in Game 1 and say, ďwin the home games and youíre the champions.Ē But weíre a very confident road team. We think we can go in any building and play our game and win. Nobody scares us. No arena scares us. Weíre a very close knit, trusting team. We trust each other. And thatís what wins road games.
Q: Your team was barely .500 on the road in the regular season. How do you fix that?
BL: We lost a couple toughies, no question about that. But weíre a different team now, both personnel-wise as well as being mentally strong. Itís hard for us, being in the Finals a lot, for regular season motivation at times. But I can see it in their eyes now. Weíre a much better basketball team than we were in the regular season, mentally-speaking. We have players that play for the playoffs, that play for a championship. Itís all that matters to them, and their sole focus is pointing toward that.
Kara Braxton - Detroit Shock Center
Q: How do you feel about making it back [to the Finals] for the third time in a row?
Kara Braxton: Iím very happy and excited. Iíve been here three times and every time we come back, itís a different experience. I try to take it all in, but itís just a very fun, happy and exciting time and Iím looking forward to tomorrowís game. It came around very quickly, but I would rather it come quickly, than not at all.
Q: Do you feel like this has been a breakout year for you?
KB: Iíve been doing the same things, but I do feel like Iíve gotten more of an opportunity now that one of our girls Ė really two, Cheryl and Plenette Ė are down. They just need me to step up and do the things that I am expected to do. Breakout, no, but I am happy to be on the court.
Q: Have you felt any added pressure since Plenetteís been out?
KB: No. Our team is built on the idea that if we have a man down, everyone steps it up. Itís just something we do together as a team. Thatís what the Detroit Shock is. We look out for each other.
Q: Was there a point in the season where you all realized that returning to the Finals would be possible?
KB: Not to be conceited, but Bill always puts together a pretty good team. Also, we really had the majority of the same people coming back as the core of the team with myself, Katie [Smith], Tweety [Deanna Nolan], Cheryl [Ford] and Plenette [Pierson]. When you have players like that, who play so hard, and take the game so seriously, you can always expect great things. I expect to be here every year. Thatís the kind of attitude you have to have to get here.
Alexis Hornbuckle - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: What does it mean to you to be here in the Finals?
Alexis Hornbuckle: Itís an honor for me to be here and have the opportunity that so few players get as rookies. [Detroit is] a championship-caliber team, as this team has been to the Finals in each of the last three seasons. I knew coming in that there was a good chance I could be playing in the Finals, but it is a truly a blessing.
Q: What would it mean to win an NCAA championship and WNBA championship in the same year?
AH: Truthfully, thatís something thatís crossed my mind. It would be a great honor to have that become a reality.
Q: What does San Antonio do well that the Shock will need to address in order to take home the title?
AH: San Antonio plays true team basketball. They have so many great players, and every player knows her role on the team. At any time, a player can break loose and hurt you, especially Becky Hammon, who will drive to the hoop or hit a big three-pointer.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin - Detroit Shock Forward
Q: Do you have any family or friends coming to watch the games?
Taj McWilliams-Franklin: My college coach may get some of my old teammates together and surprise me. Iím from the area, so I know that my family, my daughter and people in my community will make it out to support us.
Q: What are you going to do differently during these Finals games as opposed to previous Finals?
TMF: Win the title. I have the same preparation for every game Ė Finals or not. We need to focus on the little things like making sure you go for that loose ball. You have to win a game away in order to be the champion. We are hoping win one here in San Antonio and then go home and win on our home court.
Q: You recently joined the Shock. How have you gotten acclimated to the new team?
TMF: I know everybodyís game Ė Iíve played with or against most of my teammates at some point in last 10 years either here in the U.S. or overseas, so it has been easy for me to adjust.
Deanna Nolan - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: What is your mindset coming in here offensively and defensively?
Deanna Nolan: We are coming in trying to get one, maybe two on the road. Of course considering that they have home court advantage, it gives us the opportunity to win it on our home court.
Q: Are you approaching the Finals differently this year because you donít have home court advantage?
DN: No, I donít think we approach it differently. We are just about winning games. We are a great road team. We are able and capable of winning two on the road. Playing on the road, we are just playing the best games Ė this is the Finals.
Q: How do you think you match up with the Silver Stars?
DN: I think we match up well. As for post and perimeter, we both have shooters. We both have post players that can take you out and shoot. I think itís going to be a great matchup and itís going to be interesting to see.
Plenette Pierson - Detroit Shock Forward
Q: How is your shoulder?
Plenette Pierson: Itís pretty much the same. Itís going to be sore. I played on it kind of early, but the shoulderís okay.
Q: What do you bring to the team off of the bench?
PP: I bring energy off of the bench and try to be that spark plug Ė whether itís getting rebounds, or doing the little things. Thatís pretty much what I bring, and a little bit of scoring.
Q: How does it feel to be in the Finals?
PP: It feels great. Weíve had this goal all season long. Weíve had this goal since we first started playing basketball. Itís just great to be here again, and hopefully we can come home with the championship.
Q: What does your team have to do to stop San Antonio?
PP: Play defense. Weíre going to play Shock basketball. Weíre going to do what weíve been doing all season long. Weíre going to play together as a team and play great defense.
Elaine Powell - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: Whatís it like being back in the Finals?
Elaine Powell: Every time we go into training camp we say the same thing Ė we are going to make it to the WNBA Finals, and here we are.
Q: You lost to the Silver Stars twice during the season, what do you guys have to do to win against San Antonio?
EP: Just play sharp basketball. The first time we played them they won by a few points and the second time we didnít have all of our players. Now that we have our full team we are just going to go in there and play good basketball.
Q: With such a quick turn around, how are you guys plan to be ready to go for Game 1?
EP: We are used to this. After playing them twice this year, we know what they are going to do and we know what we need to do in response: play good defense.
Q: What is the most important thing for you, personally, to play well in this series?
EP: To win. To come out and play every minute and win the title.
Katie Smith - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: What does it mean to you to be back in the Finals?
Katie Smith: Any time youíre at the Finals, itís great to have a chance to participate and possibly win a championship. This is what you work hard for. This is what you play all your games in the regular season is to be here at the end Ė to be one of these two teams, to see what goes down and see who performs the best. Itís going to come down to which team makes plays and gets it done. I mean yes, Iím excited, as I said this is why we do what we do to have a chance to win a championship. Detroit has a nice group and every night you go out and you know you can win a ball game. Itís been fun because thatís why you do it.
Q: When the season started what were your expectations?
KS: To be [in the Finals]. Honestly, with our squad and with the people weíve had Ė obviously we have had some interesting turns during the season with injuries and a lot of stuff and little bumps in the road Ė we have kind of stayed with it, stayed the course. Our expectations from the start were to be back in this position again and give it our best shot.
Q: Last year you had home court advantage and this year you donít. Does that change your approach?
KS: No it doesnít. Last year Phoenix jumped on us in the second game and stole one, but we had an opportunity to win [the championship in Phoenix]. Any game some one can win something. Homecourt advantage is not fool proof, but it definitely helps. These guys get great crowds down here in San Antonio. Watching the games the other night, the crowds were nice. Energy-wise, that will hopefully help us out too in the sense of understanding how big a game and how much fun itís going to be.
Q: How good would it be to end your year with an Olympic medal and a WNBA Championship? How do those two compare?
KS: They are different. Obviously, the Olympics are a different scenario in terms of your time spent, what youíre representing and the people you are with. Here itís hard, itís hard to get here. You are representing Detroit and the WNBA. They are their own thing, but they are both very special. Iím excited to be here. We are going to have fun, enjoy ourselves and hopefully go out there and play well.