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WNBA Finals - Phoenix Practice Quotes, September 7, 2007

Phoenix Mercury

Penny Taylor

On the team's preparation for Game Two:
Taylor: "I think, nothing new. What we said yesterday was that we're just looking to do what we've done all year. I think in Game One we sort of went away from that defensively a little bit and didn't stick with what we wanted to get done, we did in stages, but we definitely look to be more consistent in our defense and I'm sure today will be the same story."

On the changes the team needs to make:
Taylor
: "I think in our zone just stepping up more and not letting them get their players settled to set in the post and inside the key, once they get the ball in there it's pretty much over. Like I said, in the zone, being more aware of their post-ups and stepping high and not letting them get the ball instead of waiting until they get it and then trying to stop them, so I think we'll try and work on that again today. We're not a team that changes much - we know that what we do works if we do it correctly and we just look to be more efficient and stick to our game plan more."

On Kelly Miller, Olympia Scott and Jen Derevjanik's influence:
Taylor:
"They are really experienced players and they go out every day and practice and in the games and they work their butts off. They set an example for the players who haven't been here to follow, not so much in what they've said, but in what they've been doing."

On the fans in Australia:
Taylor:
"It would be great - they really admire what we do over here and we get great reception back home, and they'd love [if we won the Championship]. I think they really appreciate that this is the best league in the world and the fact that we have two players in the Finals and Tully [Bevilaqua] and LJ [Lauren Jackson] were here not too long before us, so you know, they'd love it."

Kelly Mazzante

On what they have been working on in practice:
Mazzante:
"We aren't going to get too excited about Game One, we've just discussed different adjustments we can make. Overall, we are just going to stick to our philosophy and just execute it better."

On being more aggressive:
Mazzante:
"The more aggressive teams are going to get more free throws, so I think we are going to look to be more aggressive early."

On whether Game One was more physical than expected:
Mazzante:
"It is what we expected. We know it is the Finals and we are playing the defending champions on their home court, so we expected it to be a physical game. We know what to expect for Game Two and we won't back down."

On her first experience in the WNBA Finals:
Mazzante:
"It is a great opportunity for me and my team- it is very exciting. We are just focusing on one game at a time and not let ourselves get too wrapped up in The Finals."

Cappie Pondexter

On what they have been working on in practice:
Pondexter:
"We've been working on self adjustment-our coach is big on focusing more on what we need to do versus reacting to the other team."

On how they plan to play in the coming games:
Pondexter:
"We need to be more aggressive offensively, but at the same time still playing the way we play."

On the importance on a win before the series moves to Phoenix:
Pondexter:
"It is very important to even the series out and because it will give us a lot of confidence before we return home-also it makes it great for the fans."

Olympia Scott

On Game Two:
Scott:
"We are going to make sure that we focus on doing the things that we did to get to this point."

On her role in winning a Championship:
Scott:
"For me personally, I'm just making sure that we have the right mentality and focus in that we just stay on task and stay motivated and believe that it's possible. For me, I was just trying to keep everyone focused on the reality that this is a true possibility this isn't just like, "Oh, yeah, we want to win the Championship", but we have an opportunity to do that with the talent and the personalities that we have on the team and the system that we were running. So, just keeping everybody focused on the fact that that was a real possibility."

On potentially being the first player in the WNBA to win Championships on two different teams:
Scott:
"It would mean a lot for me personally because I haven't received a lot of the individual accolades that a lot of people strive for, but I really feel fulfilled receiving the team accolades. For me, the biggest reward is being able to bring a group of people together who haven't played together before, and maybe a few of them have. But for us to get on the same page and get on par with one another and click and realize our dreams of winning a Championship, that is the ultimate fulfillment in a team sport. That moment is so big, and even though I won in 2005, you can't recreate that exact moment of the championship - so it really means a lot to me."

On the differences and similarities between the 2005 Sacramento team and the 2007 Mercury:
Scott:
"There are a lot of similarities as far as the personalities and our true desire to develop the chemistry and the unselfishness. I think the difference with this team is that we have more individual star power so that people are more excited about Cappie Pondexter, Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, even Tangela Smith. We have more people individually who are really good. But I think the similarities are that we really genuinely care about each other and have a good rapport on and off the court. I think the team in Sacramento was more focused on going inside, offensively - a half court team - and more focused on their defense. They prided themselves the whole season on being the number one defensive team, and it's so funny because this is the opposite - we pride ourselves on being the number one offensive team as far as scoring points, and we don't focus on getting the ball inside we just focus on getting the best shot you can get especially in transition."

On playing Phoenix Mercury tempo in Game One:
Scott
: "We played half of our game - for me to say we're focused on offense, we're a defensive team also, we're just not the best defensive team. I think sometimes the numbers are misleading a little bit because we get our shots up so quickly we're giving other teams more shot opportunities as well, so sometimes other teams scoring a lot of points isn't a lack of our defense its that we've created more opportunities for them because we score in the first five or ten seconds of our shot clock. We only played the offensive half of our game -we didn't do the things we normally do defensively especially because it's a zone -it's a team defense so if things aren't right as far as the slide then we are exposed -and that's what happened. Basically we played our game offensively for the most part. We didn't do it defensively."

Tangela Smith

On having two days of rest between games:
Smith:
"I would rather have gotten back to it today - I mean, a day is enough rest for me. To get prepared, but I was hoping we could play today, but we can't."

On the physicality of Game One:
Smith
: "I think everybody is feeling good, it was a physical game but we have been up against physical teams all year round so you just have to bounce back from it."

On the game plan for Game Two:
Smith:
"We're just going to keep laying our game, because it's gotten us this far - we don't want to get away from it. We just need to do what we do, right, but basically keep it the same."

On the free throw discrepancy in Game One:
Smith:
"Yeah, they did. I guess they were the more post aggressive team, I thought like both teams were aggressive, but I guess the refs thought that they were more aggressive than us and that's when you get the calls - when you're aggressive so we just have to match their intensity."

On playing for Paul Westhead:
Smith:
"Great, I love it, he's a great coach, he knows the game of basketball and we respect him a lot. I love running up and down the court, up-tempo style. All of it."

Diana Taurasi

On having two days of rest between games:
Taurasi:
"I was ready to play the next day, so I basically had a day off and a night. But you know, these two days are good, to settle down, let things simmer down a little bit. It was nice, I would say."

On the physicality of Game One:
Taurasi:
"They're a tough team to play against, they're big, they have a really good defender, when they focus in and really take things the way they do, I give credit to them. We have to find ways to counter that."

On the free throw discrepancy in Game One:
Taurasi:
"Whenever you have a team shoot over 40 free throws, and they double you, it's hard, if you look at the stat sheet that was probably the dictator of where we lost it, so it's something we have to focus on."

On being in foul trouble in Game One:
Taurasi:
"It was frustrating because I want to be on the court helping my teammates out, being on the bench is a killer because you can't do that so it was frustrating, but more than anything I was frustrated that we lost, that we let a game get away, that last three or four minutes, a possession here and there, and we could have changed it."

More on being in foul trouble in Game One:
Taurasi:
"When you start feeling it a little bit in the second half, you get a fifth foul, you're back on the bench for what might be 18 minutes of game time but 30 minutes of real time, so it's tough."

Kelly Miller

On lessons taken from Game One:
Miller
: "We know how we have to play to win. We made a lot of mistakes and they played well. We just have to fix those and be ready for Game Two. It definitely wasn't a good feeling because we hadn't lost a game in a while (Aug. 4 vs. Seattle). We made mistakes individually and as a team. With Detroit, they want to get the ball inside more than some of the teams that we have played recently. That's something that we have to adjust to for the rest of the series."

Did the layoff have any effect going into Game One:
Miller:
"I think it was good for us. We had tough, hard-fought games in the first two rounds, so I think we needed a little bit of a break. I don't think it really had much of an effect on the way we played in Game One."

What adjustments need to be made for Game Two:
Miller:
"We have to focus on rebounding and only giving them one shot. That starts our runs, so it is definitely something that we have to focus on. It is not a lot of major things, but just a few little things that we didn't do that would have enabled us to win. It's pretty simple, but most importantly, we have to go and play like we have played all season. Hopefully that will be enough to get a win on Saturday."

Paul Westhead

On adjustments needed for Game Two:
Westhead:
"We're going to try to stop the bleeding a little bit in some areas. I've said a lot that I am not big on making multiple adjustments because sometimes you outfox yourself and all of a sudden you have players trying to do things that they aren't used to doing. The spillage is then they forget to do things that got you here. We'll try and be attentive to some things that really hurt us but not overdo it."

On neutralizing Detroit's inside game:
Westhead:
"One of the ways you can try to take away a power game is to try to prevent power from getting the ball. We could be very kind and forgiving and say that one of the ways is to let the other people get open shots, but I don't think that's a good idea. You try to get greedy and not give anything easy whether it's outside or inside."

On missing 48 shots in Game One:
Westhead:
"I'm not real big on missed shots. I mean, I'd like us to shoot 80 percent if we could, but as long as we get enough shots, we're OK. If you score 100 points, you're getting enough shots. If we made some more, we might have had 110. If we were 10 to 20 shots under our normal number of shots, then I would be concerned."

On Katie Smith:
Westhead:
"She's a cagey veteran who may struggle in games, but don't think that those struggles are going to be in the last five minutes. She lived up to her reputation in Game One. She plays so strong and tough. She attacks. Frequently in the last part of the game, attacking is a good idea."

On Diana Taurasi's struggles against the Shock:
Westhead:
"Is she on her game in every game, no, but she's going to be on her game 97 percent of the time. Diana Taurasi is going to show up every time to play hard. I fully expect she's going to be on her game in Game Two. I have no idea why she has struggled against the Shock. She's too good for me to worry about it. Are we going to try to get her alive and well and active, yes."

On rebounding concerns:
Westhead:
"I'm always concerned about the rebounding. When we have struggled this season, that was something that you could immediately turn to. It's one of the things that we have to find ways to minimize that."

Ann Meyers

On her first WNBA Finals experience:
Meyers
: "It's kind of surreal--who would have known. Paul has done a terrific job with him coming back and having his style in place, also in keeping the majority of the players together and getting everyone to come back on time for the first game - that was huge. Also with everyone being healthy, we've been very lucky."

On surprises in Game One:
Meyers:
"I was not expecting Diana not to be on the court, plus we probably came out a little tight - they shot 23 more free throws than us and only won by eight-- I think our team has a lot of confidence and Paul is great in letting them know (what they need to know) before Game Two."

On any adjustments planned for Game Two:
Meyers:
"We play our game and the biggest adjustment is trying to keep our players out of foul trouble - Smith is doing great and Penny is getting more recognition from the media. Diana struggled early after All-Star but has picked it up and Cappie was injured but has really stepped it up. Kelly Miller been steady all year long. When Cappie and Diana were benched, Belinda Snell and Kelly Mazzante both stepped up - Kelly Schumacher did as well."

2 - Shock | Mercury - 3
Game 1: DET 108, PHO 100 | Box Score | Video
Game 2: PHO 98, DET 70 | Box Score | Video
Game 3: DET 88, PHO 83 | Box Score | Video
Game 4: PHO 77, DET 76 | Box Score | Video
Game 5: PHO 108, DET 92 | Box Score | Video
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