Bill Laimbeer - Detroit Shock Head Coach
Q: Why has the Shock been in the Finals so often recently?
Bill Laimbeer: We have great players. Every coach will tell you that you canít be successful without great players -- starting with (Deanna) Nolan and (Cheryl) Ford, (Katie) Smith, Plenette Pierson, and now Taj (McWilliams-Franklin). Not only are they great players individually but great team players. Thatís what wins championships.
Q: What has Tajís acquisition brought to the team?
BL: I think it gives us that veteran presence that we were lacking when Cheryl Ford went down. Defense-wise she is outstanding. She really knows her assignments. She knows how to help, how to recover on defense. She appreciates that the players around her think the same way.
Q: What are you going to do to guard against overconfidence since you have the home-court advantage?
BL: We donít ever have overconfidence, it is not who we are. Last year we lost in the Finals. That even motivates us more.
Q: Is there a specific type of Shock player that you look for in the Draft or to acquire?
BL: A smart basketball player who understands how to play defense first. Then you look at their skills for offense and try and see how they fit in your team. But defensive rebounding is what we hang our hat on.
Deanna Nolan - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: What do you do to counter San Antonioís adjustments?
Deanna Nolan: Well, of course we expect them to adjust. Maybe theyíll look to run more transition or get Becky (Hammon) coming off more picks, when sheís away from the ball. Those are things that we can adjust to. There are things they did in Game 1 that we took away, thatís a positive thing for us, weíll still do those things. I think weíre going to stay with the same defensive plan. No matter whether they hand off, trap, switch, come off screens, whatever it may be, weíre still going to have people there.
Q: Can you talk about them game by Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) and Katie Smith in Game 1?
DN: I thought they came out and set the tone for us, offensively. They came out making shots which put a lot of pressure on their defense. (San Antonio) was switching from man to zone, and zone to man Ė they didnít know which defense to play with Katie hitting an outside shot and Taj giving them a fit on the inside. It opened a lot of things on the court for everybody else.
Q: How important is it to get a win in Game 2, after winning Game 1?
DN: Itís very important, especially when we didnít have homecourt advantage at the start. Now that we have that advantage and the opportunity to steal another game, we just have to come out and take it one game it a time with the same energy on offense and defense.
Q: Game is on the line Ė why do you want to take the last shot?
DN: Itís a shot I know I can make. Itís a shot that I know I can create for myself, or for someone else if I need.
Alexis Hornbuckle - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: Talk about having your first game in the Finals.
Alexis Hornbuckle: It was everything I expected. The crowd was crazy, it was a nice crowd, it was packed. The atmosphere felt like a Final Four atmosphere for myself. I was very nervous before the game started, but once the game got going and the jump ball went up, I calmed down a little bit. I was still kind of anxious and playing a little bit too fast when I got on the court, but it settled after a while.
Q: How do your Final Four experiences compare to the WNBA Finals?
AH: Itís a little bit different because itís like playing the National Championship game every night. Itís kind of like the process before you get to the Final Four, but playing the same team every night. So unlike college where itís one-and-done, you have the opportunity to come back. Obviously, San Antonio has the opportunity to come back and take Game 2. So you have to come out here like every game is the championship game. So for me, I love the pressure situation -- obviously thatís why I was chosen for this team. I was ecstatic when I got picked to come to Detroit.
Q: Talk about how important the veteran leadership is on this team.
AH: It was soon as they got back from overseas. They were anxious to embrace the rookies and the newcomers and kind of take us under their wings and show us the ropes. That just kept escalating as the season grew and now itís just like, OK, you watch them and they are all business the whole time they are on the court. So, you have no choice but to be focused if you follow their leadership.
Q: How does it feel to have your rookie season ending and with the opportunity to end it with a ring on your finger?
AH: My rookie season, I canít complain. Iíve been blessed all season with a winning record and have a chance to compete for the WNBA Championship. Obviously, most rookies donít get that opportunity. Iím happy and Iím blessed and Iím just taking everything in right now.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin - Detroit Shock Forward
Q: How are you feeling?
Taj McWilliams-Franklin: Iím still a little sick, but Iím feeling much better. Iíve had treatment for my breathing and got some sleep, so that helped. Iím still dealing with a little sickness, but Iím better than I was yesterday.
Q: What is it like to play your first Finals game with this team?
TMF: Itís a lot more calming than I anticipated, especially at this age, but I was very calm at shootaround and during the game. Iím not as excited as I was in my first two trips to the Finals, so maybe that has helped me to hit some shots. Iím trying to relax and take whatever comes to me. These girls are great. They play so well together and theyíve been together and have competed in the Finals so itís very calming.
Q: How does it feel, being new to the team, and having such a big role?
TMF: It feels great. I love being with Katie (Smith), Plenette (Pierson), Deanna (Nolan) and Sheri (Sam). Itís great for me. I get to play with all of these great players at one time. I donít have to wait to play an NBA Live game to have all of the legends on my team at one time. Itís exciting and it really makes you comfortable. I think that is where my calmness comes from because I know that they are going to produce night-in and night-out, especially in the big games.
Q: How important was winning game one on the road?
TMF: It was very important. Normally, Game 1 is the game that is up for grabs for both teams. Thatís when you get to feel the other team out. You donít really know what your strategy against the opposing team will be yet. We needed game one just to steal homecourt advantage from them and we took care of that.
Cheryl Ford - Detroit Shock Forward
Q: How is your knee?
Cheryl Ford: The knee is good. The knee is getting better. Itís sore, itís tough, but itís getting better. Seven weeks post surgery tomorrow.
Q: Talk about how Taj has filled in for you.
CF: Taj, she has come in here with her veteran leadership. We always talk about how sheís kind of like the mom on the team. When someone gets out of hand she comes and calms them down. Sheís doing a great job. She knows the game and like I said she brings her veteran leadership and knowledge to the game. Sheís helped us out tremendously.
Q: How hungry are you for next season?
CF: Iíve been hungry the past two seasons. Iíve been sitting over here in the Finals not being able to help your teammates and not being able to do anything but cheer. Iím trying to be the best cheerleader I can be and be positive and bring positive energy because I do get down, but they never know. So Iím just trying to be positive. Iím really hungry for next year and hopefully I can play a full year and be healthy the whole year.
Kelly Schumacher - Detroit Shock Center
Q: When you started the season, did you have any idea youíd be playing in the Finals?
Kelly Schumacher: I knew that coming in that the Detroit Shock would be a great team to possibly relive that thing that I did last year, with the Phoenix Mercury. Theyíre a great team, theyíre always at the top of the East and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me.
Q: Did you know that you could become the first player ever to win back-to-back titles with different teams?
KS: I was actually wondering that. It did seem a little bit weird, I wondered if I might be the first!
Q: What kind of role has it been for you, coming in with a new team thatís already so deep in the post?
KS: I think itís been a good role for me. I think they expect me to come in and play good defense and rebound the ball. Thatís Shock basketball. Itís defending and rebounding. We have a lot of big players to throw the ball into and go up strong. I think I can fit into that. With me, I like to let someone else do the dirty work inside, and let me shoot the outside jumper.
Q: Does your role become any greater as the season progresses? Does depth become more important?
KS: I think it does when you have a five-game series, and back-to-back games. Anybody can be called upon at any time. Itís a factor, you need to be ready.
Q: What were your impressions of the WNBA adidas i-design shirting shoots before Game 1?
KS: They were lovely. Thatís all I have to say about that.
Olayinka Sanni - Detroit Shock Center
Q: How important is it to open the series on the road with a victory?
Olayinka Sanni: It feels good. Being a rookie, to just have this experience is an honor. We just came out and played hard and I feel like we all played hard, both teams, and we just came out with a victory. Iím just glad that weíre focused and just happy to be here and enjoy the moment.
Q: How valuable is all the veteran and playoff experience on this team?
OS: Itís a great experience, just having so many leaders and for them to come out and play hard and for me to be a part of that and just help any way I can is an honor. Coming from West Virginia, I was never in the Final Four, and now Iím in the Finals. Itís just great to be with Detroit and be here. Having Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford, when she was here playing with us, just having all these great players and being a part of that, itís just fun.
Q: Were you nervous at all being on this big of a stage?
OS: No, I was yesterday, the first game we played I came out a little antsy, but thatís expected, Iím a rookie. Rick (Mahorn) was telling me just have fun out here, this is what itís all about, this is what you live for, and thatís what Iím trying to do, just have fun and leave everything else on the court.
Q: What do you have to focus on to steal another game in San Antonio?
OS: Just focus on what we do best and not worry about anything else. Just come out, do what we normally do, just play hard, play smart, play together as a team and have fun.
Katie Smith - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: How does it make you feel to go out there in Game 1 for 40 minutes and have a career high?
Katie Smith: Honestly, being a little older than most players, being towards the twilight (on my career), to be able to be productive at what you do and play at a high level, thatís what you strive for Ė thatís why you put in the work. I donít want to do this and do it mediocre or whatnot. When Iím out here, I want to give everything I can and I still want to compete at a high level. I feel like Iíve prepared myself and when you get out there, see what happens. You donít always have nights like that, but hopefully I can impact the game by doing more than just scoring. I feel like playing the game is more than just putting points on the board. I hope I do that for our team. Last night was one thing, but I hope that Tweety (Deanna Nolan) gets off on Friday and I get to sit back and relax. But you know what I mean, you play the game, you play the whole game, and thatís what I love about the game but also about this team.
Q: Can you play the same kind of team defense on (Becky) Hammon in Game 2?
KS: Can we make her earn everything? Yeah, I hope so. Will she make more shots, will she be a little bit more persistent, will she try to get out in transition a little bit more? Probably. No, I donít think weíll probably hold her to 10 points, I just think weíll make her earn it. She might 20 and hit tough shots, by all means, Beckyís a great player. So, I just hope we make her work for everything she gets and we donít give her easy things by just forgetting about her or not helping on a pick or whatnot. Itís going to be tough, because I think sheís going to be a little more persistent and really try to get herself rolling out there and her teammates will try to help her out. But, theyíre going to make it difficult, so as the game goes, weíll kind of see what goes on Friday.
Q: How does it feel to be in a position to now take command of the series?
KS: Yeah, it can be either or. It would be huge if we could come out here and steal another one. Itís going to be hard. Their energy is going to be 10 times what it was the other night. It would mean a lot to get it, but itís not the end of the world. For me, I just look at it as a one-game deal. Iím not looking toward going home or looking at three more or whatever. Itís Friday night, 40 minutes, letís get it done. I have a lot of confidence in my team, and I hope we lock into the game plan, and also make adjustments on the fly as the game goes because thatís pretty much all this is. Itís not like weíre going to be out here just playing five-on-five. We watch film, we talk about stuff Ė itís all mental. Same with San Antonio Ė theyíre going to see things and say, we can probably exploit this a little bit. So weíre going to have to deal with some things on the fly, but weíre also going to have to make plays Ė weíre going to have to make shots. Weíre going to have to put the ball in the hole, and I hope everybodyís up to the challenge.
Sheri Sam - Detroit Shock Guard
Q: What makes this a championship team?
Sheri Sam: Confidence, attitude and belief in each other and in the system. We go out there for 40 minutes every game believing that we are going to win. We have that kind of confidence.
Q: Can you describe your role on this team?
SS: I just have to be ready for anything. I play backup for Katie (Smith) at the three or the four, and I just have to be ready at all times to come in and have a veteran presence out there and give them some rest. Iíve been around the league a lot. Iíve won a championship in this league (Seattle, 2004) and itís about keeping everyone fresh and keeping the team mentality. Itís a team game. Weíre a team, and everyone is important.
Q: Do you see your role changing to give players rest as the series progresses?
SS: You never know. Basketball is a crazy game. You hope that no one ever goes down but as a player, you just have to be ready. Iím on the bench, so when players come out of the game I have to talk to them, let them know what I see and talk about it. You have to do whatever you can whether itís physically on the court or mentally preparing them to get back in the game.
Q: What do you do to stay loose and ready to go in the game?
SS: I just try to stay involved in the game as much as possible from the bench and see whatís going on, knowing where I would need to be on the court, seeing certain plays so that when I go in the game I know what should happen. You have to keep yourself involved mentally and when your name is called, you go out there and play basketball.