Shock Postgame Quotes: Game 5

Shock coach Bill Laimbeer

LAIMBEER: Well, we broke the Joe Louis jinx. Every time I've been down here we lost, as a Piston or now as a Shock in previous years we lost in this building now we won. I thought it was a tremendous turnout. It was great fun for our players. First half wasn't so fun, obviously.

We weren't really in sync. We had too many turnovers. We're a little out of sync. We were playing hard. No question about that, but we could play harder. We talked about that at halftime. We talked about how we had 20 minutes. All we had to do was stop turning the ball over. Don't give them second shots. Run the ball. That was a big important factor we thought in the second half where we had to run the ball up the floor to create mismatches, get some easy buckets against their defense, and bottom line was go out there and play solid Shock defense. Don't give them second shots. Be active all over the place. You saw a fine defensive effort in the second half.

I'm happy for Nolan as the Most Valuable Player. Every year her game has elevated. I'm hoping this brings her to bigger and better things. She has so much more in her than what she's shown to this point. And this would make her that much more of a marquee player. I thought Katie Smith also could have got the Most Valuable Player. Very steady throughout the season. Very steady throughout the year. Probably our most consistent player night in and night out but so many great contributions. Plenette played big. She's played big a lot of the year, comes in tonight, 16 points, 6 rebounds, attacked the rim, got them in foul trouble. Superior player.

Cash, while she's 0 4, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, I want a double double opportunity from her every night. We have other scorers, Cheryl double digit rebounds. That's what she does. Our whole ballclub did what they do well tonight. Got good contributions from everybody. And hats off to our coaching staff. I thought Rick Mahorn and Cheryl Reeve did a great job preparing our team, coaching our team at times being a baby sitter to our team. The whole package came together. We knew we were a team that was going to win the championship or come real close to it. And it proved to, came to fruition.

Q: Bill, you talked about Katie. Obviously she's accomplished now everything in women's basketball. Talk about what it's been like to coach a player like her.
LAIMBEER: Consistency that she has every game, every practice. She lost 20 pounds going into this season to make sure we asked her to and she did. Make sure she could play the 36 minutes a game that I played her this year.

Her demeanor as far as on the court, just a competitor, true and true, every minute of every play. As a leader in the locker room and as a teammate, solid. She's fiesty at times, no question about it. She'll speak her mind, and we'll listen and we'll take it. No problem.

But she's fun to be around.

Q: It seemed like Deanna could get wherever she wanted in the third quarter, was that by design or something that you --
LAIMBEER: No, she is.

(Laughter) She has, you know, so much talent that you just, if you don't watch her every night and see the spectacular plays that she makes, you don't fully appreciate what she can do. She chooses not to showcase herself every night. We're working on that one.

But when she does want to turn it on, you can't stop her. You can't stay with her. You can't challenge her shot. She's that good. And she passes the ball well. And she can rebound.

So if she wants to be I hope it's a launching pad for her to want to be the best player in the league. Because if she wants to be the best player in the league, you can't touch us, we're unbeatable.

Q: How does it feel to be a champion again?
LAIMBEER: I'm very happy for the players. I'm happy for the coaching staff, because they haven't won a WNBA championship before, besides myself. I know that the last two years have, the frustration of myself, a feeling of frustration we just couldn't get it done. I was unable to figure out what buttons to push. I think our players had to go through that experience. They had to go through the frustration. They had to go through the bad games and through the, quite frankly, through the criticism of themselves and how they didn't come and play every night.

And get that chip on their shoulder again. And they got it. We talked all year from the start of training camp, this was our year. We believed it. We believed we had the pieces in place.

We believed we were going to win the championship. And that takes you a long way, that mental frame of mind, when you believe you are the best team. You believe you walk on the court in the series you're going to win, that takes you a long way, and that's what we were this year. We took a helter skelter road to get there at times.

That was okay this year, it wasn't years past. It wasn't the frustration. It was grinding your teeth, bang your fist and cuss a lot, but the bottom line you still believed in your ball club and we got it done.

Katie Smith and Cheryl Ford, Detroit Shock

SMITH: First half was a little, excuse me, slow, took a little getting used to. I think we were getting some of the jitters out, had some turnovers, definitely came out in the second half with a lot more intensity. Little more mental toughness, I think my view of it was how we want to leave this season. We want to come out, we didn't play well well, come out, leave it out there. That's what we did in the second half and every single person stepped up and made contributions in all kinds of ways.

And the second half was a lot of fun.

Q: Katie, we'll get this one out of the way real quick, how does it feel?
SMITH: It's awesome. Any championship is special because being number one in anything is tough to do. And I think as you get older, when you're younger you think, you know what, I'll get another chance, I'll get another chance. It's easier as you get older, you realize how special and hard it is to be number one at anything. And to get this and with this group and coaches and as close as we are, it's special.

And these fans came out and got us going today, too.

Q: Cheryl, since you were so young when you won the first time, and then you had a couple of down years, is this one even more special because you've had some downtime?

FORD: Well, I mean nothing is, no one championship is as special as the first one, because '03 was my first championship in anything. So just, I mean, it's special, don't get me wrong, because we've been through so much this year, playing an up and down season.

I don't think anybody but family and friends expected us to get past the first round. We did and we have a great group of girls and we wanted to win it for Katie because she's done so much for this league, and just glad we could win you one, Katie. SMITH: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

Q: In the fourth quarter, Katie, seemed like you were in the zone a little bit, did you feel it? Or was it just something, did you realize the magnitude of the situation?
SMITH: You know, it's just my mindset in a little way. First I didn't get in a flow where I contributed offensively we all needed to pick it up a bit. I know obviously my past, that's what I do. I'm going to score buckets and it was fun. I know if I got a shot I want to knock it down. Tweetty found me for the 3.

You put up a shot. You don't hope it goes in; you shoot it like you're going to make it. Everybody needed to make plays, whether it was making buckets and whatnot, and we did that during the second half. And I feel comfortable with the ball in my hand and taking shots.

And I am confident that I can, you know, do good things.

Q: If you could touch on what it was like to play in front of your home crowd here. It was a different arena but same fans.
FORD: Definitely it was the same fans. You know, they support us 100%. We won at The Palace. We wanted to be there, but we came down to The Joe. I hear fans talk about they'd rather come downtown than drive to Auburn Hills. But I think they'll follow us to the end of the world if they had to. We thank them for that.

Like I told everybody else, we are professional athletes. Wherever we play we know that's our job and it's a basketball game. You got two hoops and a basketball. So just go play.

SMITH: They definitely were there for us from the get go. I think during the warmups they had the music going and didn't stop clapping. We didn't have much to cheer in the first half. Second half we got it going. Being in an older arena they felt it was on top of you, and

FORD: Claustrophobic.

SMITH: It keeps you going there when you might be a little tired hearing them cheering. But it was fun and thanks Detroit.

FORD: Thanks Detroit.

Ruth Riley, Detroit Shock

Q: How does it feel to win a second WNBA championship?
Riley: It feels great. Obviously we worked real hard to get back here and it was a total team effort to go out there and get the lead in the second half.

Q: Which championship feels better, the first or the second?
Riley: You canít rank any championship. Just being the best and coming out on top, itís special.

Jacqueline Batteast, Detroit Shock

Q: How does it feel to win a WNBA championship?
Batteast: It feels unbelievable. Itís just like a dream but I know itís real because Iím wet (from the champagne) and happy.

Q: Four months ago did you ever think you would be a WNBA champion?
Batteast: No. The Lord works in mysterious ways and I canít believe it.

Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock

NOLAN: You know, it feels great to be WNBA champions for the second time. You know the first one is always special, but this one is, I think, even more special, just because of how much hard work we put in the season. I don't think anyone expected us at all to be here. More like a Game 5, you know, everybody was expecting for Sac to win it in game 4, but I thought we showed a lot of heart and effort, just hard work in the second half to pull it out. Winning the MVP is just an added bonus to it.

I want to say MVP to my teammates, got me open and the ball at the right time. I was just knocking down the shots.

Q: You seem to be able to get wherever you wanted in the third quarter. Coach mentioned that one of the keys at halftime was to beat the Monarchs down the floor. I mean, how did that affect you in terms of, you know, getting to your spots?
NOLAN: I think it affected them a lot because we were running out and getting a lot of fastbreak points. We were pushing it a lot more in the second half. I think we had them on their heels in the second half.

We got a lot of easy buckets. We cut the 8 point lead, 8 point deficit, in the half to 2 within two or three minutes. That was a big push for us. The crowd stayed behind us, gave us the energy and momentum.

Q: Deanna, your coach was in here talking about how he would like to see this be the launching pad for you to be the best player in the WNBA, how do you feel about what he said?

NOLAN: I agree with him. You know, everything that happens on the court, everything I do, everything I can do is up to me. It's just a matter of me having that mindset and that effort every game to want to go out there and do it. Sometimes you may not play a not so great team and you kind of float. I'm sure you heard him say that word a lot about me, floating. And you know I see what he's talking about. Sometimes, you know, I can, of course I can get I think I can get any shot I want to, but it's times where, like he says, I float instead of not going off a pick hard. Kind of floating, trying to get my teammates open, which is not a bad thing, but you know he wants me to be the best player I can be.

Q: Could you talk about the shooter's mentality that you have, because in that first half you were only 4 of 13, missed the first 7 of 9. What was the difference between then and obviously especially early in that third quarter?

NOLAN: I think once you always hit your first shot, you have just that focus of shooting more, just seeing if the second one goes in, and it did, and the third and the fourth went in. So you kind of have that mentality and that focus. You just are in that zone. And that's what happened.

Q: How did you feel when the game was over?
NOLAN: It was a relief, a big sigh of relief. At the same time it just felt unreal because we worked so hard and then the moment finally came and we won it all.

Q: Was this the most physical series youíve been involved in?
NOLAN: I think so. Both teams are known as defensive teams and rebounders.

Q: How much of an advantage was it to being as close to home as you could be?
NOLAN: A big advantage, because we had the crowd behind us and I think they motivated us in that second half and gave us that momentum.

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