DETROIT SHOCK HEAD COACH BILL LAIMBEER: Well, what I've talked about the entire series and throughout this playoffs is about intensity and effort, desire and will of our players.
There was nothing magical that the coaching staff did. Yeah, we put in a couple new plays, got a couple buckets out of it, a couple out of bounds plays, okay. But this is about the players. I said from the start, and I'll keep saying it, that the Finals are about a test of wills and who wants it more, and the players have to come and play. Today we did. You saw the intensity for 40 minutes of our ballclub. You saw our bench, we keep reading about Sacramento's bench. You saw our bench play well. I don't play them a lot of minutes. I have great starters. I have All Stars, world champions. Our bench played big, all the way down to Angelina Williams coming in and playing great defense when she was called upon to do such.
It was a fun game for our team because of the last two days, we have watched us be maligned by ESPN's Doris Burke and Nancy Lieberman in particular, calling us all kind of mean, nasty ugly things, and it actually helped us, brought us together. No question about it, we came in today with a chip on our shoulder to prove that, you know, who we are.
We want very badly to go back to Detroit. We're going down to play in downtown Detroit, in Joe Louis and we're going to pack that place. We're going to have a ton of people in the upper rafters screaming, hollering, yelling for the Detroit Shock to win the basketball game.
You know, we joke around a lot with our ballclub, and one of the things that we were laughing about today was, we would like nothing better than to go to downtown and play in Joe Louis and have Doris Burke actually have to go and stay in downtown Detroit because you know she wants to go back there. She probably will go out down there and stay in her hotel room the whole time. That was one of our driving forces today.
Q: Going to the post, was that trying to set the standard for the game?
A: Rick always harps on me, go to Cheryl first play all the time, go to Cheryl. That's our horse down there. Go to her, go to her. I've avoided it because their post play has been taking our post away, fronting and so forth.
We put a couple new wrinkles in. We screened well today, and that was one of the keys to getting our post players open was our screens. Deanna Nolan set some outstanding screens, Cash, EP came in the game. Yeah, that set the tone for the game. We were going inside, we were going right at them.
Q: You talked about your team's play in the post and defending the post because obviously you dominated both.
We've allowed them just to get any post position they wanted to throughout the course of the series. They just walk in front of us and they are posting up too deep. We continue to talk about fighting for position, and I thought we did today.
Ruth Riley was big, she had a doughnut; doesn't say what she did on the court for us. She was physical out there, she got some rebounds, some big, timely rebounds. You know, that's how we like to play basketball, is be physical down there in the paint and force teams to the perimeter and that's what happened
It's a phenomenal defensive story here. They scored, what, 26 points in three quarters. I mean, that's just solid defense and effort and will and taking control of the glass.
Q. You just touched on it but my question was, how much of their second half effort was they just stopped making shots as opposed to you guys, the defense that your team is talking about?
A: Both teams play solid defense. Their niche is how they play defense. We play straight up man to man defense.
You know, so today, we were able to get after the rebounds. We were able to control the paint. We were able to be physical down there, box out, and get those key rebounds when it was necessary. Yeah, they got a lot in the first half. They got a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half, but we took care of business in the second half. I thought we were aggressive across the board defensively, and you could just see it grow. As the game went along, you could see the confidence in our place grow and grow and it showed in the fourth quarter.
Q. Just talk about Katie Smith's performance and she seemed really hungry out there, especially when Deanna had those three fouls.
A: I'm giving Smith tomorrow off. She played a lot of minutes today. I know she was tired. She's so steady, she's so consistent and she made the big shots. Any time she made the run, Katie Smith knocked down the 3 ball.
The best part, when I was playing and the ball was reversed to me and I was open, you could hear the crowd groan when you were on the road. Tonight every time she got the ball on an open shot, even before she shot, the crowd went, ooh. I know you all heard it. That's the best feeling on the road when the crowd knows it's going in.
Q. When Deanna Nolan got into foul trouble early Elaine Powell stepped in...
Powell was out of control for a period of time there, but overall I thought she was steady, got us into a lot of stuff, got us some big rebounds and dug some balls out. Her job is not to score a lot of points.
It's to make sure we keep an even keel on offense and that's why we got her. She loves it here. Our whole bench played big. EP played really good and solid. They weren't spectacular, they were just solid.
Q. You sound excited about Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, but to play a championship game on a neutral court, how tough is that for your team?
It's not tough at all as long as the fans are yelling, screaming and hollering. All it is is a different routine of going to a different venue than what we do.
I played in Joe Louis in a playoff game. I played there when the roof caved in for half a season. The facility itself is great for basketball because it goes straight up, okay. So you feel like the fans are on top of you. The Palace is a little more of an angled venue where it goes back. Joe Louis is right there. They are on top of you. It's downtown, we're going to have just a bunch of people whooping and hollering and having a grand ole time down there rooting for the Shock. You know, our ladies are pretty excited about it, actually. We're looking forward to it a lot.
DETROIT SHOCK GUARD KATIE SMITH
We played a little harder and we played a little smarter, and basically that's how we ended up where we were.
So we brought and matched their intensity for the 40 minutes and when they made a little run I think in the first or second quarter, we withstood it and, you know, we were able to get stops and climb right back in the ballgame.
Before the game, I know there was a lot of talk about, you know, the Monarchs celebrating tonight and everything. Did that kind of motivate you to want to say, let's bring it back to Detroit?
It was everything, not only the last game, the way we performed as competitors. You want to get on the floor and basically right your wrongs in a way.
On top of that, no, we obviously we didn't want them to have their celebration tonight. We would like another chance to go home and take care of business, also. Obviously there's a ton of motivation but being in this setting and being in the WNBA Championship, it doesn't take much to get ready for this ballgame.
And a lot of talk, also, this team for whatever reason, focuses and tunes in with our backs are against the wall a little bit better than on a normal game day I guess.
You just heard your coach talking about playing at Joe Louis, what are your thoughts about going back to Detroit and playing back this that venue?
Excited about being back in Detroit but don't know anything about the venue. Obviously a little different from the Palace. I'm 32 years old, played basketball a long time, played in a ton of different arenas and it's going to be our crowd cheering for us and excited and giving us some momentum. I don't care where we play. It's the fifth game of the WNBA Championship and doesn't get much better than this. We're going to go home and I hope we play as hard and as smart as we did tonight.
Can you just talk about that one little stretch where you hit the two shots in the row.
Yeah, there was a little steel plate there, we couldn't knock down shots. I don't think we let them score a lot. It was kind of like, you know, we were going back and forth and no one was really budging. So obviously to get a bucket, that makes you breathe a little bit easier. Kind of puts a little more pressure on them.
So I got a good look, was getting a little tired but got a good look and knocked it down. Obviously the next bucket, probably most likely put it out of reach and we were able to relax a little bit and get our defense going and get down there and kind of run some clock.
DETROIT SHOCK FORWARD CHERYL FORD
How does this game compare to Game 3?
We won. We all went and played hard and played together as a team. We did the little things. We just went in and the last 72 hours watched film. We just came out and played hard and played Detroit basketball.
Talk about how the post position set the tone at the beginning of the game.
We watched film and it was all about the post. We knew we had to come in and work hard. Katie knew she had to hit shots from the outside to open it up for us and as you can see, she did it.
How do you feel about going back to Detroit?
We are going back to the Joe [Louis Arena]. Itís going to be packed. We have tons of messages right now from people back home. Itís going to be a nice crowd and a nice Game 5.
DETROIT SHOCK FORWARD SWIN CASH
How pleased are you with this win tonight?
We are really pleased. We understood that they had everything ready for a celebration and we basically wanted to get it back to Detroit. We didnít do anything here; we just won a game and have now positioned ourselves to have an opportunity to win a championship.
Talk about how you kept your turnovers down from Game 3.
We just came together the last two days and just said itís not about the media, itís not about the coaching staff, itís about us. When we come together and we play as a team itís our championship.
Talk about that fourth quarter.
It was a team effort from our bench to our starters. Everyone was really into the game and thatís what we need.
Are you excited to be playing back home in Detroit?
We are going to pack the Joe [Louis Arena]. We are going to be back home with our fans. You can see I got a million messages and there are going to be a lot of people down there representing us. The Mayor and his wife were at the last game. We have a lot of people in Detroit that support us and Iím just ready to get back.
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS HEAD COACH JOHN WHISENANT
Well, it's not nearly as much fun to be up here as it was after the last game. I don't know where to start.
We were awful. We scored 26 points in the last three quarters, two in the fourth quarter. We got outrebounded by 16 in the second half. They got almost half of their misses back on offensive rebounds, 48 and a half percent. That's an unbeatable number, that alone.
Our defense which creates opportunities for us, only got five turnovers in the first half. We did get a few in the second, and didn't do us much good the way we were playing. And we obviously just weren't prepared to play. For what reason, I don't know. But we talked about it, we talked a good game, but we obviously were not prepared to play. And maybe we subconsciously wanted to go back to Detroit, I don't know. I don't think so, at least in my case.
What did you tell your team right after the game, was it forget this one and move on, or what did you tell them in the locker room?
Told them we had a 7:00 flight in the morning, I mean, 7:00 bus to go to the airport to get to Detroit, fly all day.
I had yelled at them at our practice this morning. We were this way in practice, our shootaround. We were dead, and I warned them then that we were celebrating before the dance. You know, we were reading clippings of the second championship. That's very hard not to do that. It's not what you're supposed to do. I think all of our players understand that. But obviously they were intense and played hard and we weren't ready to deal with that.
No team has won on the road in The Finals here, so what's your mindset going in now to a Game 5 back in Detroit?
We don't even worry about that. We can beat them in Detroit. We have beaten them in Detroit. We beat them the first game in Detroit. We swept the season series in 2004 and 2005 with Detroit. It just comes down to, we've got to play.
You know, as I said before this game, it came down to us executing our stuff better than they did their stuff, and obviously they won, easily tonight. So when we go back there Saturday, we've got to see if we can get our alertness and intensity back and do our stuff better than they do. And it will be harder in Detroit on their court than it should have been here on our court. Since I've been here, we haven't lost a playoff game until tonight. So this was my first loss here in Arco in the playoffs and it doesn't feel very good.
The second half, Kristin Haynie played at the point, Ticha played sparingly, can you talk about why you went a lot with Kristin the second half tonight?
They were just guarding us five on four. You know, Ticha has to make shots, has to make at least the elbow shot. You know, the last game she got aggressive and made some of them. Tonight she was hesitant even before she shot the shots, and I don't have an answer for that.
Kristin's not afraid to shoot. Kristin has trouble guarding, is her problem. But she'll make shots, and she's not afraid to knock one down. I have to choose between that.
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS FORWARD NICOLE POWELL
Well, clearly, we're disappointed, you know, obviously, with the outcome tonight.
We just didn't give it our best effort. We didn't play our game, and that's what it came down to. They killed us on the rebounds. You know, that's their bread and butter. They took advantage of that. I mean, we shot 31 percent. It's just a lot of things didn't go our way tonight, and we're not too happy about it.
But on the upside, you know, we feel like we still have a great opportunity. We feel good about our chances in Detroit, so we're going to get ready and go to tomorrow. That's it.
You guys have been pretty even keel throughout the playoffs, not too high after wins. How hard is it not to be really frustrated after especially the second half?
It's frustrating. We felt like we had a great, great opportunity. You don't get this again. It's disappointing. But at the same time, we're a team that we bounce back from things. You know, we can beat this team. We just need to focus a little bit more and I think pull some things together. You know, I mean, really, none of us had a very good performance. I know everybody is going to be fired up and ready to come out and play their game.
You kind of touched on it a little bit, but looking at that stat sheet, did it even look like a Monarchs game, especially that second half, two points in the fourth quarter?
When you look at the stat sheet and you see so many things that are just so one sided, we didn't have a chance. We didn't shoot the ball well, they outrebounded us, they shot decent. It's just, you know, at this level playing against such a good team, you're not going to come away with a win.
On Saturday you've got to play at Joe Louis Arena versus the Palace at Auburn Hills, how does that factor into playing on a first time court for you guys?
I don't think it really matters. It's going to be a hard game. We're just going to have to go in there and do what we do best. It doesn't matter where you play at this point. It's just a battle of wills. It's about getting down and getting the rebound and not giving them second shots.
I think Coach said they got 48 percent of their offensive rebounds. You're just not going to win. It doesn't matter where we play. We have to play hard.
This is the first time the League has ever seen a five game series go to five, last year you guys took it in four. In that fifth game, what is the key? Is it rebounds, what is the key?
The key is going out there and not letting them do what they want to do, period. We just have to find a way to stop them whether it's getting the defensive rebound, making them shoot a difficult shot, not letting their post do well. They had a few people off the bench come in and do really well for them. It's just not letting them get rebounds, not letting them get easy shots, making everything tough. Of course, we've got to do, we can do better on the offensive end as well. So those two things I think.
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS FORWARD YOLANDA GRIFFITH
In each of the last games the more physical team has taken the win, do you agree?
Yeah. Itís a physical game and we know that. We took ourselves out. Our defense wasnít sharp. We made a lot of mistakes in the other games even though we won. Now we have another game. We are not going to hold our heads down. We know we stunk up the place tonight and we have another game. We are just going to stay positive. We leave tomorrow, go to Detroit and we will take care of business as a team.
What happened in the fourth quarter, only two points?
I think it was kind of happening before that. They came back into the lead and got a couple of offensive rebounds and it kind of deflates the effort that you put in as far as getting defense. We felt the momentum turning our way and our defense triggers our offense. It just wasnít on tonight. Games like this are probably the hardest to ever get. But weíre okay. Like I said we are going to watch the video and take care of what we need to take care of. Thatís all we can do.
How is the confidence going into game 5?
We are okay. We are not going to lose the confidence because we lost here. It was a tough game. Like you said whichever team comes up physical seems to win.
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS GUARD TICHA PENICHEIRO
Was tonightís loss a big one at home?
Obviously when playing at home we have a chance to finish in front of our fans and win the championship game in the arena, and it just wasnít meant to be. Itís basketball and itís a professional sport and it is going to happen. We didnít perform tonight even from the jump. It looked like they wanted it more than we did. Now it is down to one game. We have to fly to Detroit. But we have beaten them before there. We just have to keep our head up.
It seemed like Detroit was extremely more physical than game two?
Thatís how they play. Thatís what they are taught by their coaches. They do push and rebound. Today we just were not the Sacramento Monarchs that we usually are. We just need to keep our heads up.