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Opening statement: 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?
Bill Laimbeer: Rick (Mahorn) 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, Swin Cash, Elaine Powell 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.
Bill Laimbeer: 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?
Bill Laimbeer: 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.
Bill Laimbeer: 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 --
Bill Laimbeer: 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?
Bill Laimbeer: 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.
Shock guard Katie Smith
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.
Q. 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?
Katie Smith: 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.
Q. 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?
Katie Smith: 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.
Q. Can you just talk about that one little stretch where you hit the two shots in the row?
Katie Smith: 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.
Shock forward Swin Cash
Q: How pleased are you with this win tonight?
Swin Cash: 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.
Q: Talk about how you kept your turnovers down from Game 3.
Swin Cash: 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.
Q: Talk about that fourth quarter.
Swin Cash: It was a team effort from our bench to our starters. Everyone was really into the game and thatís what we need.
Q: Are you excited to be playing back home in Detroit?
Swin Cash: 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.
Shock forward Cheryl Ford
Q: How does this game compare to Game 3?
Cheryl Ford: 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.
Q: Talk about how the post position set the tone at the beginning of the game.
Cheryl Ford: 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.
Q: How do you feel about going back to Detroit?
Cheryl Ford: We are going back to the Joe. 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.