Detroit Shock Media Availability: Oct. 3

Bill Laimbeer - Detroit Shock Head Coach

I think this was a gutty performance by our team. You know, we came into this into the game with saying that, same old, same old as we did before in Game 1, play our solid defense.

We expected them to do a couple things. One of them they did; one of them they didn't. And overall we also talked about getting out quick. Whether we had a lead like we ended up with which was surprising to me, we wanted to make sure we weren't down. We didn't want to be on the short end of that one. We knew that if we could get off to a good start we could neutralize any emotion, any crowd interaction, and then just play a basketball game from there on out. And that's what happened today.

Unfortunately for us, you know, we got up okay. And they're going to make runs, they're going make shots. We're going to miss shots. But when they started that make that run the second quarter, it's too early in the game to get overly excited about the second quarter, so we just kept our composure and kept on playing.

Then when we were unable to take command of the game in the second half, it was our turn. And we knew at some point in the second half we'd get our turn and we did. And we took it. That's how this works.

I'm very proud of our team. I mean, I'm proud of Kara Braxton. I mean, Kara Braxton gets beat on by me especially. I beat the crap out of her all the time and the media saying how she's inconsistent. But late in the game, she stood up, and her teammates appreciate that. I appreciate that. e in the game, she stood up, and her teammates appreciate that. I appreciate that.

Also, unfortunately, I told them unfortunately in the locker room, but I expect so much from Katie Smith. And this is two games in a row where I actually had to compliment her on over and above the call of duty. She played phenomenal.

She wanted the basketball once again in two games in a row, her will to win the game is what carried us. And no question about it, I thought Deanna Nolan played a smart game today. Once again, she realizes that their focal point is on her, and she didn't the force anything. I'd like to see her shoot more but she played a solid game.

Overall, we'll take it. We've been here before. We lost last year and we don't like it. And we know we have unfinished business.

Q: You talk about Taj's performance defensively on Sophia, because she was 5 of 18 I think?
Bill Laimbeer: Well, we knew what we were getting in Taj; she was a great defender I don't know about great. But I would say smart defender. When I was playing, we used to say, do your homework early on defense. She does her homework early. She denies. She gets out there and pushes players into spots they don't want to be, never misses a defensive assignment; if her job is to trap or her job is to rotate, she's always there. And that's one of the reasons why we got her because we have great defenders in our guards and she fits right in.

It wasn't a great offensive day for her, but I don't think she really cares. I think she just cares about winning a basketball game.

Q: Besides the numbers, can you just talk about the timing of Katie's shot? Seemed every time San Antonio had a chance to get going the crowd getting into it she just silenced them?
BL: That's why I talked about the will to win. Her will is pushing us right now. She is so focused on every aspect of the basketball game. Whether it's defense, and when she has to switch over to Hammon or whether it's guarding the post, or on offense, running the show at the one or playing two or the three and looking to be a scorer. This was a game where she took over mentally and physically in the later parts of the game.

And when we were struggling in the third quarter, she took it upon herself to drive to the basket hard. And man that's two games in a row. I played her 40 minutes every game damn near this whole series, and she'd go out there and play another 40. That's what she does. That's what she wants to do right now.

And we were laughing coming down the hallway, we saw her on the TV after her interview, she is walking down the hallway you can see the cuts in her arms, what great shape she is in, and she's just walking like she knows exactly what she's doing right now.

Q: I guess you guys had a sub .500 road record in the regular season. They were 14-0 against the east or something. What's the difference between the playoffs and regular season?
BL:Focus. The difference between our regular season road record and their record against the east and now we've won two games, it's a matter of focus.

You can say we're a different basketball team, yeah, we are, but we're not that much different. When we lock in I mean, regular season, I said the other day, regular season is not boring to us. But we don't the turn it up for every game like we could, because you just can't get that frame of mind that you do in the playoffs, especially in the Finals.

And when we turn it up we talked about we looked at the playoffs before the season started and we looked at the teams out there. We said, which team can turn it up and which team can't? And because we know that we can. We have another level that we can take it to in the playoffs. And we're showing that, I believe, this year.

Q: What's the approach from here? Going back home with a 2-0 lead.
BL: Near the same thing I said after Game 1. You will hear the players say the same thing. We play a one game series. We're looking at, especially after last year, last year was so brutally frustrating and discouraging how we lost that series. We play a one game series. That's all that matters. We live and die that one game, because anything can happen in the next game.

We don't want a next game. We want to play as few games as possible. We want to win every game we play. That's our mindset.

Q: What do you expect to see crowd wise at Eastern on Sunday?
BL: I expect a full house. I expect an atmosphere second to none. The Palace is a great atmosphere. You put a lot of people in there. This is a bit different. This building actually is louder than the Palace, and they're on top of you. They're like right here.

And we'll have a bunch of people in there we'll have some people that have never been to a WNBA basketball game before, I bet, which is great. And they're going be rooting for the Detroit Shock. And it's going to be loud.

Certain arenas way back when I played in Portland in the Finals, the people were all right there on the court. And it was such an atmosphere. Kind of like a college atmosphere. They were all right on top of you, and it just created an environment that's fun to play in. That's what I expect.

Q: Bill, when you brought Katie in 2005, you obviously knew she was exactly the type of player you wanted on your team then. But did you envision she would still be this good?
BL: No. Honestly, no.

When she got here, she had come off a knee surgery. She was in Minnesota. She was got to be a good 20, 25 pounds heavier than she is now. And that's because she couldn't work out before the season started. That's at least what she told me at the end of the year. At the end of the year, we had an exit interview and I said, "Katie, I need to you come back 15 to 20 pounds lighter. I need you to be the leader with the ball." At that point she was our lead guard. "This is what I expect of you and this is what I need for you." You don't have to tell the her twice.

You can't emphasize that, because once you tell her, once she understands it and then you tell her a second time and she gets mad. She gets feisty. But I told her what I needed, and she now prides herself on her body. She is second to none, I said this last game, she is second to none in her physique, her stamina and her desire. There is nobody else in this league that can beat her.

Thank you all very much.

Deanna Nolan - Detroit Shock Guard

Q: Did you think you’d be able to take both games in San Antonio?
Deanna Nolan: It’s always in us. It’s just a matter of us doing it. Getting off to a good start, making shots, playing good defense, rebounding, running, knowing when to run – you saw it all in the first five minutes.

Q: After they came back and took the lead in the second half, how were you able to get it back?
DN: Oh yeah, I don’t think there’s any pressure on us. We’re on the road, we already got one game, trying to get two – I think a lot of pressure is on them. You know, we’ve been making shots. With us not turning it over, they wouldn’t have got the lead. As long as we take care of the ball and they’re missing wide open shots then the pressure’s on them.

Q: Can you talk about how well Katie [Smith] has played?
DN: Katie’s been on, and we’ve got to give her the ball in situations that call for us needing a basket or making a play. As you can see, she’s getting it done for us, and we’re going to keep giving it to her.

Q: What’s the mentality now that you’re up 2-0 heading back to Detroit?
DN: We still can’t let up. You know, they’re backs are definitely against the wall. They’ve got nothing to lose now and they’re going to come at us full speed.

Q: What are the adjustments to make for Game 3?
DN: I don’t think anything. We’re still playing great defense on Becky. The threes she got at the end were her first good looks. Really, we’re still playing great, we’re getting it inside, they’re still not double-teaming us. Our post is still one-on-one in the blocks. I think we’re still doing a great job of keeping them off the boards, and just keep making shots.

Katie Smith - Detroit Shock Guard

Q: Just what keeps your drive going as you get towards the latter part of your career to stay in such good shape?
Katie Smith: I want to live for a long time. I mean, honestly it's just quality of life, if you want to talk about being in good shape.

I want to be able to, you know, have fun, be active for the rest of my life, if that is what you are talking about.

Here as a basketball player, I want to win. Bottom line, this is why I play the game, because you want to find a way to win whether it's pickup, whether it's here. They'll tell you, I am a little bit of a competitor all the time.

Q: Can you talk about your play tonight? Especially when San Antonio was breaking it even with you all, how you stepped up and hit big shot after big shot?
KS: You know, you try to stay aggressive throughout the ball game. And I feel good obviously with playing and shooting the ball.

But a lot of offenses obviously the first opposite option if they don't take it you feel like you are going to attack if not you feel confident with Taj and Kara. But just trying to stay in that attack mode and not take it easy on it. Especially when Becky's guarding me and whatnot, she wants to stay in the ball game. You understand that she might not get up and get in. Like VJ does and Buescher.

So it's just being aggressive, but also knowing if they take me away, I know I have a lot of confidence with Taj banging the big shot. Kara hit a big bucket. Tweet made some great passes.

So I have a lot of confidence. I think we all do, that everybody on the floor will make good decisions.

Q: Now you guys have a 2 0 lead. What's the approach coming back home?
KS: It's not over. We haven't done anything.

So we're excited about going home. We're excited about getting on the floor. If we could play tomorrow, I'd be happy. We're excited about an opportunity that we have. We have an opportunity but we have not done anything yet.

Q: When you get off to such a big lead, you kind of know as basketball players, a lot of times a team will make a comeback on you, then the momentum goes back to them. But how did you guys both deal with that when they did come back and tie the game?
KS: I was glad we had a cushion. I thought we coming out of the game like that put the crowd on obviously took them out of it for a second. You get a little worried.

But I remember a time I was smiling and was like, here we go again. It's like in a sense we've been in this position quite a bit here this year. And I think we have a lot of confidence. Like, man, it's a 40 minute game. And that's another thing Bill always harps on is whatever happens in the first five to the 35th minute, it doesn't matter. It is a 40 minute ball game. You have to keep grinding and keep playing. They'll have their runs. Just be patient; we'll get ours. Get a bucket to fall and we'll get ourselves going again.

Kara Braxton - Detroit Shock Center

Q: Can you talk about last year you guys felt that the series got away from you, the Finals. How much did that kind of eat away at you, and how much has that been sort of a motivating force this year in the Finals?
Kara Braxton: It's been a big motivator for me, as well as the other girls on the team who have been here. Some of the other girls are new, so we just try to give them any type of experience that we have.

But losing to Phoenix last year hurt us big time. We were right there and we lost focus. So coming into the playoffs this year and the Finals in the season at hand, that was our main goal, to get back in this position and we made it.

Q: When you get off to such a big lead, you kind of know as basketball players, a lot of times a team will make a comeback on you, then the momentum goes back to them. But how did you guys both deal with that when they did come back and tie the game?
KB: We came into the time out and we just had to really set in and focus. Tell everybody just to relax and breathe, you know.

They're great team and they're going make their shots. We're on their home floor. But we just had to buck down and take care of our defense, do the things that we need to do and execute.

Alexis Hornbuckle - Detroit Shock Guard

Q: How big is it to win both games on their court and go back to Detroit one game away from winning the championship?
Alexis Hornbuckle: That’s huge. Obviously with a team like San Antonio it’s hard to beat them on their home court period, so to beat them two games in a row is huge. We’re just going out there trying to make a statement that we want this championship and were not going to let anybody take it from us.

Q: This game was similar to the first game in that you took an early lead, Silver Stars made a run, and then your team played better down the stretch. Did last game give you confidence that you could win a game like this again?
AH: Obviously, we never want to give up our lead or allow any big runs but like I said a great team like San Antonio, with great players like Becky Hammon and Sophia Young and all of their other players who know their role and have the ability to knock down shots, they are going to make their runs. Bill [Laimbeer] says it’s about how you are going to respond and we had to make stops. We went through our droughts where we couldn’t score for a little bit, so once we got back into the flow and starting knocking down shots, and Katie Smith hit big buckets for us, we just followed her lead. We tried to hit shots and overcome adversity, a lot of calls weren’t going our way but that’s part of basketball so we felt that we weren’t going to let them come back and take our game.

Q: How important was it for your team to neutralize Becky Hammon over these first two games?
AH: It’s always important to neutralize Becky because once she gets going everybody else is going to follow. You saw that when she started getting to the free throw line and at the end of the game when she started hitting threes, you have to stop her. You have to go out there and hawk her. Our bigs did a great job of either trapping or hedging and just giving the help necessary and our guards were able to switch because of our athleticism but it’s still hard to stop her obviously.

Q: How big has the defensive play been for this team?
AH: Coming into Detroit, I knew that this team is about defense and running. In the final series you’ve got to play defense, you have to make stops. It’s about who is going to execute and hit big buckets. So like I said, we weren’t hit our shots so we had to fall back on our defense. We pride ourselves on our defense and making stops.

Q: How excited will the city of Detroit be with you headed home with one game from winning a championship?
AH: We’re going to be excited but their going to come to Detroit with nothing to lose and come at us with everything they have. We know that we can’t let down, we know we are up 2-0 but that doesn’t mean anything until the final buzzer goes off and you have three wins under your belt. That’s where our focus is and we are taking it one game at a time.

Q: One game away, can you taste it now?
AH: You know what, it still tastes the same as before we started the series because the way I look at it, it’s do or die. Are we going to let them come back and make it a four or five game series or are we going to go home and take care of Game 3? I like the focus of our team; we want it, we are greedy so we want to take it all.