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Opening Statement: 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.
WHISENANT: 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?
WHISENANT: My team?
WHISENANT: 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?
WHISENANT: 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?
WHISENANT: 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. Eleven straight playoff wins at ARCO arena here now.
WHISENANT: 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?
WHISENANT: 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.
Sacramento's Yolanda Griffith and Erin Buescher
Q: How are you feeling about the game?
YOLANDA GRIFFITH: 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?
ERIN BUESCHER: 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?
BUESCHER: 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?
BUESCHER: 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?
GRIFFITH: 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?
GRIFFITH: 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--
GRIFFITH: 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.