WNBA Finals Game 3
Detroit Shock 69, Sacramento Monarchs 89
Sunday, September 3, 2006, at Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA

Shock 69, Monarchs 89
Boxscore | Recap
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September 3, 2006
Arco Arena, Sacramento, CA
Points:(DET) D. Nolan, 22
(SAC) Y. Griffith, 15
Rebounds:(DET)C. Ford, 8
(SAC) N. Powell, 6
Assists:(DET) Four-tied, 3
(SAC) D. Walker, 5
Blocks:(DET) Two-tied, 1
(SAC) None
Player of the Game
Yolanda Griffith

DETROIT SHOCK HEAD COACH BILL LAIMBEER:† Okay.† Just played Game†1 again.† I think, you know, our team, this was not a good game for us in all ways.† It was clear before the game started, I told our assistants that we were going to be in trouble from an energy and a concentration†‑‑ I don't think we were ready to play as hard as we had to to win a game in their building.† And I was proven right.

Our team is very easy to read at times, and I was able to, you know†‑‑ it was clear.† Our turnovers, obviously it's a major factor for us in this series.† Our 23 turnovers that we had today, a lot of them were just old shots of past years, just stupid, dumb, throw the ball away, no aggression turnovers.† Just bad, bad plays.† We had to take better care of the basketball, there's no question about that.† That's just concentration, that's being quicker, that's wanting it more, and that wasn't there for us today.

Our frustration is starting to build.† We're tired of being a double standard on the whistle.† We're tired of it and it's showing.† Players are becoming frustrated, and we expect†‑‑ no, we demand, that we get the same calls as the other team.† Did the referees lose the game for us?† Absolutely not.† We lost it for ourselves by our frustration creeping in, and we lost our brain at times.† That's part of who we are.† We have to be bigger and better players and play through that.† No question about it.† But we demand that we get the same handchecks, that we get the same cheap calls that go against us.† Am I whining?† No.† I'm stating a fact.

Now, we're going to bring our best game in the next game.† We're going to come and we're going to hoop and we're going to put forth the energy, the effort, the determination and the professional athlete, but also for our basketball players on our team.

Q:† Can you talk about Deanna Nolan's performance.† Looked she's basically the only one keeping you in the game.

A:† She's a very talented athlete.† Her six turnovers, three or four of them were just losing the ball for no reason, which sometimes happens to her.† Even she played on the stat sheet with 22 points and didn't have any assists, which is unusual for her, I thought she floated.† She has another gear that she can put out.† We all know that.† We've watched her play all the time.† She has to bring that gear.

Did she dominate the game?† No.† Did she have a good stat line?† Yes.† Should could she have dominated the game the game at any time?† Sure.† We need that.

DETROIT SHOCK GUARD DEANNA NOLAN:† Well, tonight I thought, know, we hung in there, at the halftime we were only down ten.† Then the start of the second half was a little bumpy.† We had a lot of unforced turnovers, questionable calls, just a lot of things that didn't go our way.

Q:† It seems like Katie did come alive in the second half point‑wise, did you feel like you had a bit too much responsibility heaped on you?

A:† I don't think I had too much responsibility on me.

It was just me attacking every time I had an opportunity to.

You know, a lot of players when playing well, when hitting shots, you know, when someone†‑‑ especially when you're in a case of you're making shots, you're just making an effort to, you know, try to get open and try to get to the basket or create your own shot.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about playing here in Arco Arena.† I believe that's seven out of eight games you've lost here and the last one you lost here was a 31‑ or 33‑point loss?

A: Everyone always says it's hard to play here and get a win here, and it's because they have the crowd behind them and other factors.


Q: Was there a turning point when things started going downhill for the team?

A: There were a couple spurts in the first half they transitioned, they ran the ball and got a couple easy buckets.† Offensively we didnít execute very well.† We panicked a little but, I missed a couple of lay-ups, missed a couple of free throws and those little things are what you have to do to stay in this ball game. They were relentless attacking us.

Q:† Talk about the turnovers that your team had.

A† All of that is part of it. We had turnovers, we missed shots, and we didnít guard them on the transition. You talk about easy buckets you got free throws, turnovers, transitions and they did that. It was a little bit of everything.† It wasnít just one thing.

Q:† Talk about the atmosphere in the arena here in Sacramento.

A: Itís fun. Iíve played in the west for six or seven years and played here twice each year.† Iíve played here opening night when it was sold out.† Itís great they are coming here to watch a great basketball game, they are coming here to support their girls.† They came at us, which is going to happen, and we didnít stand up and stop that and then get our own run.† We are disappointed in our effort tonight and we didnít do enough to keep us in there.


Q: What did you think was the biggest problem with Detroitís play today?

A:† Turnovers, they made baskets off our turnovers.† We know we had too many turnovers and we didnít execute our plays.†

Q:† Did you feel you didnít have enough rest between cities?

A: No, we are professional athletes.† We just have to work through that.† I donít think we were mentally prepared today because if we were we would not have had as many turnovers.† We have to stay focused and stay positive.† The series is not over, we still have another game to play.† We just have to look at film, practice and try to get it done on Wednesday.

Q:† Did the crowd take you out of it at all?

A:We have been here before, we have played with their crowd, we know they have loud fans, but you just have to try and block all of that out and play ball.

SACRAMENTO MONARCHS HEAD COACH JOHN WHISENANT:† I'm obviously pleased with the result.† We were disappointed in the way we defended them in the last quarter, last five or six minutes.† As we said to the press early before this game, it comes down to us against them, and if we stay with our defensive system, it gives us a chance to win, tonight we did, and I'm happy with my team for doing that.† It got a little ragged there late, but other than the last few minutes, I was really pleased with the effort of my team.† And I'll take questions.

Q:† Can you talk about your bench and just they overwhelmed Detroit's bench.

A:† Well, you know, we've always been pleased with our bench.† When you lose, you always wonder back as a coach what you did incorrectly.† And I thought one of the things that might have changed out the outcome of the game in Detroit was when I substitute, I have to use my bench and I have to use certain combinations.† I can't get too many inexperienced players without some veterans.

So long story short, I was very conscious tonight of keeping combinations, not letting anyone play to fatigue level before I got them out, and I was much more aware of that than I perhaps was at Detroit.† I'm not taking all of the blame for the loss, but I take my part just with the rest of the players.

Q:† It seems like we've seen 11 out of 12 quarters of Monarchs basketball in this series.† Do you think their confidence level is going very high into what could be the fourth and final game?

A:† My team?

Q:† Yes.

A:† I think my team believes that we can win, but I just told them, it's like playing with the rattlesnake, and you get too close, get overconfident, and they will bite you and there might not be†any second chances.

Yolanda is in there with them, and she's reminding them right now, I'll assure you, that just because we won by 20 tonight does not mean one thing for Wednesday night.† We still have to go out and beat them.† Just because we're at our home court, it means nothing.† We have to play the game.† They will come, and I'm sure they will come at us, and we have to be ready.

But yes, I mean, it always helps to win.† I mean, I think it does, and you always warn your team to not think because we won by 20 that it's easy, because we played this team before, and they have beaten us before.

Q:.† Can you explain, a blowout win in Game†1, a blowout win in Game†3, you had a sizable lead in Game†2, how do you explain all that?

A:† I've got a good bunch of players that play good defense most of the time, and our defense is a weapon.† It gives you great advantage in basketball if you play it.† But, you know, we didn't play it in the fourth quarter in Detroit and they got 25 points to our 9.† So it was a very good example of what would happen if we didn't defend.† Our team, when we play, when we do it right, it gives us a great opportunity to win.† And it's the kind of play that you have to have to play in playoff basketball.

Q:† Can you talk about your playoff run, especially DeMya Walker early?

A:† Part of our problem early was DeMya wasn't here.† As you know, she had a child April 11th.† She didn't come to the team until June 20th.† It's taken the whole season to get her back in almost good shape.† She still is limited in the number of consecutive minutes she can play.† She's one of the players that can't overplay, or she will exhaust herself and not be able to recover later in the game.

So I have to watch that closely, and if I don't†‑‑ if I'm not paying attention, it affects her.† But when she's sharp, she's 6‑3 or 6‑4, very athletic basketball player.† You know, she's worked hard on her footwork stuff that we preach about in the post, and you saw some of it early when she was fresh tonight.† She's hard to contain.

Q:† Talk about the dominance here at Arco.† 11 straight playoff wins at Arco arena here now.

A :† It's a great home court.† I mean, the Kings built for us a foundation that the Monarchs are growing into our own Monarch fans, and the enthusiasm is building.† It's a great advantage to have that.† It's a good sixth man, and we're happy to have them.† That's why we wanted to be here, and we certainly don't want to lose that home‑court this Wednesday.

Q:† You mentioned Yolanda talking to the team right now, how valuable is she, not only on the court, but as a leader for the team and for yourself as a coach?

A:† Couldn't have a better one.† There's not a better one for my philosophy, for the way I preach defense, team play, unselfishness, hard‑nosed, tough, never say die.† I couldn't.† There's not one that I know out there in the WNBA like her.† So I lucked out when I got Yolanda.


Q: How are you feeling about the game?

YG A:† We feel pretty pleased about tonight's victory.† We knew coming home the fans was going to be supporting us.† We knew it was going to be kind of like a sellout.

You know, we did a lot of things on the offensive end.† Defensively, we're still making some mistakes.† Doesn't matter what the score is, we're still making the mistakes that Coach has been talking to us through the whole series.† We're happy but we're not going to celebrate.† We know the fourth game is going to be the toughest game ever played from all of our players.† So we're going to practice tomorrow, work on some things that caused us some problems tonight and get ready for the next game.

Q:† Erin, could you talk about that crazy shot that you hit late in the third?

EB A:† Yeah, I've been practicing that a lot and just came, my practice paid off.† (Laughter)

No, I saw the clock ticking down on the other side of the court and just turned around and did some ice skating moves.† Throw them up and they go in.

Q:† With a couple of the starting five getting up there in years, and with you already having won the Most Improved Player of the Year award, are you excited about the future as far as possibly being a starter here?

EB A:† Yeah, I think you always look†‑‑ you're excited looking ahead, and what the future may have to offer.† I mean, I love playing in Sacramento.† I'm from California, so I would not want to be anywhere but here.† So I'm really happy where I'm at. And, yeah, with what the future possibly holds.

Q:† Could you talk a little bit about the play with Kara Braxton when she sort of wound up on the ground.† Just physical play as usual?

EB A:† Yeah, she was coming down.† She was guarding DeMya and we were both post and we both said screen†‑‑ people underestimate my screen.† She didn't see me and we clocked heads, her head and my chin, I felt it.† I felt a little bit like I was on a boat for a little while after that, a little shaken up, but okay.

Q:† You talked about the Game†4 being the toughest game possibly ever for you guys, what is it that makes a close‑out game so tough or different from any other game in the series?

YG A:† Because you're already anticipating a victory.† I think it's going to be tough because the pressure is on us.† If we lose that game, we go back to Detroit.† We might be a little tight.† I was tight tonight.† I have no idea why, but I started a little slow tonight.† That game, the closure is always the most important game, and it's a lot of pressure.† So we've just got to relax and realize exactly with the situation we were in last year with Connecticut, even though Detroit is totally different from Connecticut, we played tight and stuck around, I just think if we execute offensively, you know, do the defensive things that's been causing us some problems, we'll be okay.

Just got to realize, it's only basketball, and just come out relaxed and do the little things that Coach has been talking to us about and we'll be okay.

Q:† The crowd noise in this series, in Detroit it's been like a pop gun, here it's been like a cannon.† Do you think that's a big help here to have the home crowd really pushing behind you?

YG A:† It's always important.† We're in The Finals.† Think of where we started at the beginning of the season and look where we are now.† So we know our fans are going to support us, even when we started bad, our fans were still here.† Actually, I know we had about 14,000, 15,000.† In Detroit, you know, the fans need to come out and support the team is the bottom line.† We knew our fans was going to come out and support us, and we have the best fans in the WNBA.† We had them last year and we have them again this year.

We know it's going to be another sellout in Game†4, and if it happens to go to a Game†5, we know it's going to be a sellout in Detroit.† We're trying to finish it out here.† It's always good to finish a championship game, the final game, with your home crowd.

Q:† With everything that you guys went through this year with Coach Whisenant to yourself and your knee and DeMya and the pregnancy, was there any point you would ‑‑

YG A:† There was a lot of doubt when we started training camp with my knee.† We knew Coach was not the same after the death of his mother and going for the Kings job.† DeMya with Little Z and K‑Law being sick.† Once everything started coming together and Coach coming back and saying, "You play my defense.† You don't play my defense, you don't play," we knew Coach was back.† Once K‑Law came back to practice and start hitting those shots and start wagging her finger, we just knew.† We knew once everybody got back what kind of team we were going to be.† We just had to come together as a team, and everybody had to work hard to get us to where we are now, and you know, it was a difficult start.

But we always knew we had the talent, we just had to work hard and get to where we needed to be.† We're here, we're happy.† It's not guaranteed we're going to win Game†4.† We're going to fight and we're going to put forth the effort.† That's what I ask of my teammates that we do that, and everything else will take its place.


Q: How did the win tonight feel?

A: Yeah definitely, it felt really good getting out there. It was just one of those games where I couldnít sleep the night before and all I could think about was the game. I just kept seeing it over and over what I needed to do. I know that if I get started off then it will get all of us started off on the right foot. Now they are drawing so much attention to me or other post players and now everyone else is wide open and you have to think twice and I am cool with that. I am cool with whatever I have to do whether it be scoring, passing, or rebounding. I felt this.

Q: It seems like most of these games in the finals have been all blowouts, how do you feel?

A: In the second game I donít really feel like Detroit handled us. I feel like we let down in the fourth quarter something that we were doing in the first seven quarters of that series. I felt like we got back to basics. We know the only way we are going to win is if we play defense for forty minutes no matter what.

Q: The way they [Detroit] play does it tend to ugly up the end result?

A: We canít let frustrations or anything creep in and allow us to get caught up in that. We just have to play the game. If we get the calls we get them and if we donít we donít. We just have to continue to play defense. In game two we kind of let all that stuff take away from our defense. Today it was happening.


Q: There were 14,000 fans here today, how big is that?

A: Thatís huge. They make a difference. Thatís true that fans can affect the game. Thatís why we love to play at home and we donít like to play on the road. When they are screaming loud other players canít hear the coach or each other and it gives us energy. We might go through a period where our offensive is down and they will pick us up.

Q: What is it about playing at ARCO?

A: I know that ARCO is a tough place to play for any opponent and you talk to players around the league and they always say this is the hardest place to play in the WNBA. We always play really well at home. We kind of feed off the crowdís emotion. Itís the finals and we are going to play as hard as we can.


Q: You hit a couple of three pointers early, do you feel like that helped lift your team?Ē

A: I feel like anytime anybody can come off the bench and give us something, itís a big boost. Thatís a big strength of this team that you can go down the line and every player can contribute and do something positive out there.

Q: You struggled as a team offensively in the last game and you came out attacking the basket, was that your strategy going into this game?Ē

A: A little bit. We just had to go out there and focus on what we needed to do. I think that we got a little complacent in that second game and got a little satisfied with winning one. After that game we just talked about staying completely focused and playing loose. We wanted to make sure that everyone knew what they were capable of and doing it.

Q: With the bench playing so well, Yo [Yolanda Griffith] was able to rest a lot of this game. How important is that going in, knowing how fresh the starters will be?

A: Thatís extremely important because we need everyone on this team to contribute in order to rest people. A lot of teams in this league can only go down their bench ten people and play only a seven-man rotation. I think itís a great advantage to be able to go nine, ten, eleven people sometimes, to get those starters a rest. Itís a long series, and we have to have everyone be fine when that last game comes around.

Q: Youíre used to playing thirty-five minutes in college. How have you adjusted to your playing time in the WNBA?

A: Iíve always been a role-player. My first year of college I went from being the first person off of the bench to starting half of the season. The next year, I had a different role. Iíve always had to play a role and Iíve always been satisfied with that. Iím a competitor and I want to win. Anything I can do to help my team win is what I need to do.


Q: What are your thoughts on the game tonight?

A: It was a dogfight. It was really physical out there. We just stuck together as a team from the starters to the bench. The bench gave their production and it was just an all around good win.

Q: Youíve been more aggressive in this series, whatís been the difference?

A: Itís do or die time and like I said, these bench players have a role on this team and we have to really come out and give a spark for the starters. Thatís what weíve been doing and we have to keep going. Hopefully we have one more game to go and itís not going to be easy. Weíre not saying itís going to be easy at all.

Q: How great was it to play in front of the home crowd tonight?

A: Itís good to be able to play in front of all these fans. The lower bowl sold out and almost all of the upper bowl. Hopefully we can get more fans to come to game four and weíll see what the outcome will be.

Q: What was the difference in the second half?

A: I think we just came out more focused. It wasnít over yet. We were up on them last time at their place and we let them get back in it. We just came out there really focused and never let down.