Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer:
Opening statement: Okay, well, I told our team, cliches are cliches for a reason, and the cliche about a series in professional sports is the series doesn't start until the home team loses. We lost the first game and our hearts were severely tested in this game. They got up double digits on us, we could have folded, we could have put our heads down, but we showed great composure.
A lot of contributions happened today. I thought Swin Cash played the way that we want her to play. She came from the start and brought all the energy in the world to our ballclub. That's the stat line that I envisioned for her when they started the season. I told her, we have additional scorers in Katie Smith, and every time she walks on to the floor, I want her to be capable of having a triple double. Her stat line tonight of eight points, 11 rebounds, and five assists is phenomenal for how the makeup of our team is. That's what we want from her, every game.
Other than that, our bench played a fine role, Pierson and Braxton. What you won't see on the scoresheet, and also Powell played outstanding tonight, our bench contributed in many ways; 18 points off the bench doesn't seem like a lot, but it was their stability that they brought to our ballclub tonight that was a big factor in this game. Made some big shots, Katie Smith made a big 3 ball ending the third quarter and she did the Katie Smith thing, as did Nolan.
Nolan struggled in the first half but Katie Smith and Nolan played well. But the bottom line, we figured it out. Our ballclub figured out how hard they have to play, what they have to do on the basketball court defensively. And offensively, I think the light bulb came on. You look at the stat sheet, every quarter went from 26 on down to 9, a steady decline. That's defense, that's commitment to your teammates and that's taking care of business on the glass after that first quarter, and partly in the second quarter that really hurt us. But we've got a series on our hands. Now our task is we have to win one of two games in their building, and that's what we are focused on.
Q. You all but exploded in the fourth quarter. What was said or what got into them?
BILL LAIMBEER: When Katie Smith made the 3 ball, we just said, you have ten minutes, okay, to protect your home court, to put yourself back in the series. And it was great to see the response of the players. They had a bounce in their step. They had a more physical presence. I mean, Ruth came out of the locker room with a headband on and I told her in the locker room, come out like a thug. Has to be a smarter thug. She had a couple offensive fouls there for being a little too physical, but it was clear that she was determined, also, to go make her impact on the game, and she did down the stretch with a couple nice blocks.
Q. Well, the last two regular season meetings out there, you've gotten blown out. How do you sort of change the psyche and sort of the losing culture you've experienced the last two times you've been out there?
BILL LAIMBEER: The regular season is one of scheduling, travel, all of those things like that that go into a long, regular season.
This is the playoffs. They are traveling the same as we are. We all move in the same time, we go out there tomorrow. So there's no advantage to anybody. They have the home court. They have the fans all geeked up, okay. We won a game, we have momentum. We think we know some things about their ballclub that we have to exploit. That's what series are about. You go to the next game, you take advantage of what you saw in the last game. I think our players are pretty confident that we can win a game.
Q. They started the second half and missed 20 of their first 24 shots and had ten turnovers this that stretch, how good was your defense in the first 15 minutes of the second half?
BILL LAIMBEER: Like I said, we realized that defense is what's going to have to win the game for us and probably win the series for us.
We made some adjustments from the last game to this game that seemed to work. And you know, we went out there and it was commitment. Today we played a lot harder than we did in the last game. When we play hard yeah, we're going to have our lows. The first quarter was a bad quarter for us, the first half wasn't so pleasant but the effort was there. When the effort is there for a 40 minute ballgame, while we'll have our bad moments, we'll also have our great spurts, both defensively and offensively and that's what turned the game for us. We kept our composure and we kept playing hard.
Shock guard Katie Smith:
Opening statement: Obviously we needed this one. You know, the effort was there. It was better. You know, they still jumped on us a little bit early, but then we kind of withstood that and really knocked it down defensively and rebounding wise, we attacked the glass. We were able to limit them, but we were also able to knock down some shots to put ourselves in a position to get back in the ballgame.
Q. Katie, you're down at the half, you had not scored a point, what's going through your mind at that point and then you come out and score 16 in the second half?
KATIE SMITH: The first half was just weird for me because there just wasn't much of a flow for myself personally. I thought we had good looks. Tweety was getting bumped a little bit. I didn't feel like we were in a flow per se.
We have to take a little pressure off everybody and myself included, have to take pressure off of Tweety, have to take pressure off of Cheryl, knowing that I can jump up and knock down some shots. I just have to find my niche and be out there and be aggressive. We have a lot of threats and if we use them all, we can cause some problems. Obviously if any one of us gets hot, I think we'll ride them. And for a spurt there, we got a couple buckets and we made the best of it, obviously on the defensive end, too, by getting stops and scores on the other end?
Q. They missed 20 of their theirs 24 shots in the second half and they had ten turnovers in that stretch, how good was your defense playing in that first 15 minutes of the second half?
KATIE SMITH: I think it was individually well but I think our tendency is understanding how to guard individuals, but also helping on who we needed to help on, not helping off of Powell and Lawson and playing smart. We played hard and we played hard at times in the first half of the game we played hard but maybe not making the best decisions and playing the smartest. In that third quarter we really put it together in that sense, understanding how we need to guard individuals and understand how the flow of the game is and who we need to help and who we don't need to help off of.
Q. That shot you hit right at end of the third quarter was reminiscent of that first Connecticut game, did you feel at that point that you've got a chance to really grab this thing.
KATIE SMITH: Not necessarily. We were still down six at that stretch but obviously put us in a little closer range.
You know what, we have confidence. We're not going to give up. Obviously we have confidence and I know personally and I think everybody included, you might not get back to this position. I haven't been here before, and who knows if I'll ever get back, but I'm sure going to leave it all out there and try my darnedest to help out this team.
Yeah, that was a nice little spurt to end the quarter. As the statsheet shows, we came out and just tied that ballgame back up.
Shock guard Deanna Nolan:
Q. What the heck happened in that fourth quarter at the start, drink some magic water there in the huddle or what got into you, just desperation?
DEANNA NOLAN: Just desperation, like you said. Just having the mindset that, you know, you need to score, at least pull ourselves away to get a comfortable lead, especially going down the stretch. That's basically it.
Q. Last two trips to Sacramento, Katie you were not there the previous year, blowout losses in that arena, how are you going about trying to correct that this time?
DEANNA NOLAN: We're just going to go out and play hard from the start. We know what kind of defense they are going to be in, they are going to be pressure, pressure, pressure. Hopefully we are used to that by now. Basically just try not to turn it over on their home court because that's what they thrive off of and score off of. Really we just have to lock down and limit their second shots and make sure they don't get to shooters.
Sacramento coach John Whisenant:
Opening statement: Well, it's not as much fun to be up here as it was last time when we're beaten. They handled us in the paint in the second half, beat us 40 21. We gave them a 25 point fourth quarter. You know, our goal always is to keep people in the teens each quarter. We do it, that's just a defensive goal. You know, we kept it reasonably close for three quarters and then we just broke down, when their four is inside, and they came and got us. And our offense got stagnant and we got caught standing.
I felt like, you know, we left Sacramento Thursday a week ago, so we've been on the road quite a while, and even though we've been living pretty good, pretty nice five star hotels and eating well, it's still I thought we acted a little tired. It could have been the coach's substitution pattern. Maybe I left them, some players in there too long and they became tired in the fourth quarter.
But needless to say, they played well. They came back, they had to win this game. I think they knew that. They felt going back to our place down 0 2 would have been a very deep hole, but now they are back right where they want to be, right in the thick of things.
So it will be a dogfight from here on.
Q. You missed 20 of your first 24 shots in the second half, how much of that was, you said your offense was stagnant, and how much of that was their defense?
WHISENANT: Probably a lot their defense. They played well.
They were guarding us. They got us, bumping us, and kind of got us out of rhythm. And I thought we stood, we didn't move sharply like we need to against that kind of defense, pressure. We play against it every day; that's what we do.
But, you know, when your legs get a little bit tired, it's easy to get to standing, and I thought we did that. Although, we held them to 15 points. That's where our defense keeps us in the game, and that's what we preach to our team. And so we were still in good shape at the end of three quarters after ten minutes in the third quarter. Missing all those shots, we were still up by whatever. We were still up, anyway. So it wasn't until later that we let it drag us down, got to us.
Q. Do you want to comment on the play of Katie Smith for the Shock in the second half?
WHISENANT: Katie's a handful. When she was before she was at Detroit, she was a handful. She's always been. I call her an Ohio State fullback. She's strong and powerful. Heavy, powerful legs, can power through most guards. It's very hard for guards to stay with her. And she's a deadly shooter, always has been. Been that way since she was at Ohio State.
So, you know, there's a reason she's been on the Olympic teams and won the gold medals. She's an outstanding player.
Q. To kind of go in the same direction, but you held your own in the third quarter but she makes that thought at the end of the third quarter, did that alarm go off at that point even though you still had the lead?
WHISENANT: I would have much rather she didn't make it. But I mean, I still thought we could win the game. I've got confidence in our defense, and I thought that we just hit a wall there physically that I started seeing my players, they didn't have any zip. Detroit was beating us to all loose balls, all deflected rebounds they were getting to. They were just sharper and fresher, and you can say, Bill will probably say, they just wanted it more. That's one expression.
I thought we played -- we looked, showed a little fatigue there.
Sacramento guard Kristin Haynie:
Opening statement: It always feels great to come back home and play in front of my friends and family. It's too bad we didn't pull this one out today, but, you know, I think both teams fought hard. Give credit to Detroit's defense. They took us out of our offense.
Our offense wasn't as sharp as it was in Game 1. We're just going to have a good practice tomorrow and watch film on our mistakes.
Q. Did you just get tired there in the fourth quarter, the team collectively, or what was it?
HAYNIE: No, I don't think we were tired. You know. We played a lot of people. A lot of people played minimum minutes. We have a good bench, we have great starters.
I just think we've just got to get over that mental toughness. I don't think fatigue played a role in that, but we've just got to get our defense back and come back ready for Game 3 in Sac.