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WNBA Finals - Mercury Practice Quotes, September 10, 2007

Diana Taurasi

On being back in Phoenix:
Taurasi:
"It's going to be an exciting game back at home, which is always nice. With the home crowd, hopefully we can generate some more energy with that. It's just nice to be back in Phoenix after being in Detroit for so long."

On the team's preparation going into Game Three after coming off a win:
Taurasi:
"I don't think it changes that much. I think that has been the beauty of this team; I think we've been consistent whether we win or lose games. We bounce back and try to stay with the same energy."

On any preparation changes after two games:
Taurasi
: "We're going to stick to our game plan, what we do well. Hopefully, we'll fix some of the things that we can adjust on."

On the meaning of a WNBA Championship to the team, fans and city of Phoenix:
Taurasi
: "It would be huge. The city hasn't won a championship in I don't know how long. It's a basketball city. It would be nice to win a Championship but we still have a lot of work to do."

On what she needs to do in Games Three and Four:
Taurasi:
"I need to keep the same type of energy that we had in Game Two. We didn't make many adjustments in terms of Xs and Os. It was just basically up to us."

On Phoenix's defensive effort in Game Two:
Taurasi:
"We played a little bit better on both ends and that definitely helped."

Tangela Smith

On the Mercury's offensive options:
Smith
: "Basically, it's Diana [Taurasi], Cappie [Pondexter], and Penny [Taylor] - they're taking a lot of defense with them, and other teams have to pick their poison and me and Kelly Miller are left open so we just want to get in here and work on our shots and if they leave us open we'll take what they give to us. Fortunately, we've been making the shots."

On her playoff success:
Smith:
"I definitely strive for it, I've been overseas the past nine or ten years, I've gone over there just to keep my game tight and work on things I have to work on in the off-season so basically I attribute that to that and just staying in shape over the off-season and working out and working on my shot and other things that need to be worked on."

On playing in front of a hometown crowd:
Smith:
"Oh my god, it's going to be great being home because we have the best fans in the WNBA and they're always with us whether we're winning or we're losing - I think we'll get a big lift from them."

Paul Westhead, Head Coach

On Tuesday's game plan:
Westhead:
"We're going to do a little bit more up-and-down stuff, but it was a very brief and somewhat crisp practice. You don't win the games in practice. I have won a few but not many."

On momentum heading into Game Three:
Westhead:
"We have really been on a pretty good momentum run for a number of weeks now - literally since the All-Star break. During that time we have lost a few games and there have been some snags, but it never really seems to impede our momentum going into the next game. I am very pleased that we have sustained that ability. The second game was much like how we have been playing."

On having home-court advantage:
Westhead:
"I hope that advantage is the word that comes out of this. It is obvious that these are two very good teams. The court, other than the fans, is not really going to affect either team to cause a win or a loss. I don't believe that. It helps being home. Every little bit helps, but when you reach this level, the game is the thing. You have to get out and play your very best whether you are home or away. We certainly intend to do that, but we won't say that it is now our advantage. We better create our own advantage on the court."

On Diana Taurasi's personal momentum after Game Two:
Westhead:
"I have said this since I have been here: We're going to win or lose, live or die, with Diana Taurasi. She is the heart of our team. She has always been that. To her advantage, we have surrounded her with people who can carry the load and can win games for us sometimes if she is struggling. She is the one who is going to be the difference-maker for our team. She has been and will be, and she sure did it in Game Two."

On Diana Taurasi's struggles in the first three meetings against the Shock:
Westhead:
"She is a great basketball player. All of the very good ones have off days, but the really good ones always rebound from it, and she did exactly that. I think I heard Diana say that she can't help her team when she's on the bench with six fouls, and that is the only time she is not going to be in the game."

Jen Derevjanik

On past appearances in the Finals:
Derevjanik
: "I went two years in a row with Connecticut, but this year seems so much more special because we have this closeness on our team which feels incredible. Everyone has so much confidence in ourselves. That's really the difference."

On having more experience than her teammates:
Derevjanik:
"O [Olympia Scott] does most of the talking because she's won a championship, so O does a lot of the leadership talk about being here."

On the difference this year versus previous trips to the Finals:
Derevjanik:
"In Connecticut, the first time we made it to the Finals, I think we were very young and everyone was inexperienced on the championship level. Then, the second year we got there we had an injury to Lindsay Whalen. This year, there hasn't been too many injuries, knock on wood, and everything seems to be falling into place."

On being the only WNBA player from Staten Island, NY:
Derevjanik:
"I love it, coming from a small town (setting). I won't be the only one though. Nicky Anosike from Tennessee is also from Staten Island, but I can claim it for now. I love representing. We have Jason Marquis that plays for the Cubs. I love to represent my hometown and I want to do the best I can while I have the opportunity."

Kelly Miller

On being back in Phoenix:
Miller:
"We're just excited to be back in Phoenix, it feels like we were in Detroit for a month, so its great to be back. Our fans are great, they're our x-factor - the fans give us all our energy so we're excited to be playing in front of them, too."

On Phoenix as basketball town:
Miller:
"Both teams are fun to watch, the way we play and stuff, our fans have been great all season, and they've grown throughout the season so that's been exciting too. I've been to some suns games, I love the way they play so its fun to watch"

On playing with two days rest:
Miller:
"It helps to have days off, to recover a little bit especially the way we like to play, and it's also nice to come home and playing at home after a couple of days off."

On the Mercury's physical play in Game Two:
Miller:
"We just got after it defensively a little bit more and stayed active and didn't let them have too many easy shots so we did a better job rebounding so I think we did a better job all the way around."

On playing in front of a hometown crowd:
Miller:
"It's exciting - we've worked hard all year to do, our fans are great, and their energy will help us out as well, I'm looking forward to that."

Penny Taylor

On Game Three:
Taylor:
"We know that it's still going to be tough we're going to be playing against a great opponent but to have our energy and our crowd really supporting us and cheering us on will be a great advantage.

On playing with bumps and bruises:
Taylor:
"Same old same old, nothing new there. I've being trying to get here my whole WNBA career, so you forget about everything once the games come up."

On preparing emotionally and mentally:
Taylor:
"I think the beauty is that we stick with what we know and what we're good at and we know what we need to do specifically every night. So, you prepare yourself physically, get rest, all of those sorts of things, but mentally, you know what you have to do and if you get that done you know you'll get a win.

On Diana Taurasi's play in Game Two:
Taylor:
"Apart from a couple of games when she was suspended, she's done that for us all year, so that's what we expect and that's what we love about her."

On playing with two days rest:
Taylor:
"Physically, yes, but mentally, you just want to play game after game after game in a row to get it over with."

On playing in front of a hometown crowd:
Taylor:
"We really use the energy they give us, especially in our game where we're running and we're out and we're going. Their encouragement goes a long way for our team."

On staying aggressive:
Taylor:
"I think it's important to do especially against this team, but for us to, its important for us to know that we won't back down from anybody."

Cappie Pondexter

On strategy for Game Three:
Pondexter:
"I think that we're trying to stop them in transition, Deanna Nolan is dangerous in the open court so we made an effort to stop the transition especially with her because she orchestrates everything and when she gets going. Everybody is focusing on her and when she finds Katie and the other guards…I think that's where our focus is."

More on strategy for Game Three:
Pondexter:
"We have to come out focused, intense, and just have fun - play together."

On expectations for the Shock in Game Three:
Pondexter:
"They're gong to come out hungry, they're a great team. The reason they're here is the reason they're the Eastern Conference Champions, so I expect nothing less than a great game."

On playing in front of a hometown crowd:
Pondexter
: "We've been away from these guys for maybe a week and a half, so they'll bring us a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm. I know they're excited to actually see us, it's the first time in a long time that we've been in the Finals and playing a game here. So I know they'll be excited."

On closing out the series at home:
Pondexter
: "It would be great, but we want to take one game at a time. With Detroit, we're messing with a dangerous team - they can have a bad game and be great the next two, so we just have to focus and take one game at a time and come out and be really aggressive."


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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