Phoenix Mercury Practice Quotes: 2009 Finals

MERCURY HEAD COACH COREY GAINES

On being a head coach in the Finals as opposed to an assistant a couple of years ago: "One good thing about when I was under Coach [Paul] Westhead was that he let me make decisions. I was doing the offense, it was coachís offense but he let me make adjustments so it helped to be the visiting driver a couple of times. But its different itís on me to make sure they got in the right positions, the right sets and make a defense so they donít score."

On the road team winning each of the games in the season series between Indiana and Phoenix: "Our game here when they beat us we got behind by like 17 in the first quarter. We came out, missed a couple of shots changed defenses came back and it was a close game down the stretch. We canít really put them on the line. If you watched the last game they had against Detroit they had 16 points in the fourth quarter of a close-out game. They didnít score anything. Ebony [Hoffman] scored the first bucket with 3 minutes to go. You canít put them on the line and you canít turn the ball over. They score on their defensive fast breaks. Itís funny because theyíre scoring off defensive fast breaks off of turnovers Ė the only difference with us is we preach offense to score regardless. Itís the same philosophy weíre just going about it a different way."

On his players having Finals experience: "We were there in 2007. I have a couple of players who are always in the European Championships Ė the Russian Championships the best league in Europe. They are accustomed to those games. Diana is accustomed to the Olympics; Cappie is accustomed to the Olympic gold medal games. Penny played in the gold medal game, Penny won the World Championship in Russia this year, Penny won the 2007 Championship We have veterans. Tangela, I canít speak about her enough. Sheís a veteran player, you know exactly what you are going to get. If the sunís going to rise then Tang sheís going to be there."

MERCURY GUARD/FORWARD DIANA TAURASI

On the best defensive team going against the best team offensive team: "Weíre going to have to play really good defense. We pride ourselves on scoring but only way to really do that is to get stops on the other end. We have been doing that in spurts in the last couple weeks but were going to have to do that a little more consistently to beat this team."

On preparing the younger players on the Mercury for the Finals: "I told them itís like any other game. Itís no different. If you prepare yourself the right way the whole year then you shouldnít be nervous, you shouldnít feel any panic. Itís just another game 40 minutes; basketball rims shouldnít be any different."

On this year's team compared to the 2007 Finals team: "Itís a completely different team. You have the same core but outside of that you have a different coach, different point guard, different bench, different make-up of the team. The style of play is the same, were still going to try and get up and down, score a lot of points and get it done that way.Ē

On playing in the Finals twice in three years: "Itís kind of nice but weíre in the moment right now. Weíre not looking to games 2 or 3, were looking to tomorrowís shoot-around at 9 a.m. We will get some stuff done there, come back later that evening and hopefully play a good game."

On the team's current level of play: "I think the last week we have really come together. And that doesnít mean necessarily playing great basketball but it means finding ways to win when youíre not playing well. When everything is smooth sailing of course youíre going to win, but when things arenít necessarily going so well and you find a way to win, it think thatís when a teamís character really comes out."

On potentially bringing home another WNBA championship to the fans of Phoenix: "Itís huge and they have been great all season. Just walking around the city all week people are tuned in, their ready to go, and their excited about it. The Suns are gearing up so everything is kind of coming to a head right now."

On the matchup between the Mercury and Fever: "Itís a David and Goliath really. They are a big physical team that likes to pound it inside, theyíre tough and defensive minded and weíre up and down, so it should be fun."

On whether she is playing the best basketball of her career right now: "I am probably the most focused, the most fit Iíve been and it helps when youíre on a team the makes you better every day. And I think thatís our biggest advantage."

On the contributions of LeíCoe Willingham: "I told LeíCoe this in the beginning of the year, if she plays well no one will beat us. You pretty much know what me and Cappie are going to do every game and LeíCoe is really our x-factor. She is probably our most dynamic player down low as far as her scoring, and when she plays well we donít lose, and she has proven me right every time sheís played really well."

MERCURY GUARD DEWANNA BONNER

On winning "Sixth Woman of the Year" and making the Finals: ďFeels great to come in on a season like this. We have great veterans and great teammates that know what it takes to get here, now we just need to finish it off. But it feels great to be in the WNBA Finals my rookie year."

On the Phoenix fans: "They are great. They come out and support every game. I know they will come out for the Finals and be just as pumped up just as much as we are."

On each team's style: "They are a great team. They have great veterans on there team and so do we. Itís going to be a dog fight. Itís going to be a battle between two great teams, the number one team from each conference going head to head, so its going to be a great series."

MERCURY GUARD CAPPIE PONDEXTER

On returning to the FInals: "It feels great, especially after not making it last year. Weíve worked tremendously hard over the last year and a half to get back to this point. Itís definitely exciting."

On the Mercury's commitment level: "Definitely. It really started at the end of last season. The organization knew they had to make some changes. Personally, I wanted Temeka Johnson here. We got Nicole Ohlde, whoís a true five. Thatís something we definitely needed. Diana and I took it upon ourselves to work hard in the offseason. We brought Penny (Taylor) back. It seems like itís full circle again."

On the battle between offense (Mercury) vs. offense (Fever): "You guys have to give us some credit defensively. You donít lock down a very good scoring team like L.A. for no reason. There was some defense involved there. To win a championship, you have to have that effort to get stops defensively. We are a talented offensive team, without question. We led the league in scoring. But, there has to be some defense at some point. I think youíre going to see sound basketball at both ends, because Indiana is a pretty good offensive team as well."

On the media's role in that battle: "Itís a good story. We led the league in scoring. Theyíre the best defensive team. Itís a good story to play on. But, at the same time, I think that both teams are talented on both ends. Youíve got two dynamic duos in myself and Diana Taurasi, and they have Tamika (Catchings) and Katie (Douglas)."

On Diana Taurasi's growth: "Of course sheís grown. Even with the little incident she had earlier this season. Sheís really grown tremendously, and itís good to see that. I think itís allowed her to focus even harder than she was at the beginning of the year."

MERCURY FORWARD PENNY TAYLOR

On the 2007 Mercury and 2009 Mercury: "Definitely people will compare because for the most part, the core group is the same. Weíve added some pieces in Leícoe [Willingham,] DeWanna [Bonner] and Temeka [Johnson]. I think itís a totally different team weíre playing against. Indiana has those extraordinary players at the guard positions. Whereas Detroit was dominating with the bigs on the inside. So itís a totally different Finals series for us. We take experience into the series from 2007 which is such a positive for us. We know we can get it done. It gives me a lot of confidence.

On her role's changing from 2007 to 2009: "For me itís quite a bit different, Iím playing more as a guard on the wing but Iím still stepping into the four at different moments in the game. Itís completely different coming off the bench. Itís been a little bit of an adjustment, but at the same time, I know whatís expected of me. I know what Corey [Gaines] wants. I know the girls, I know how to play with them. There are differences but at the same time I feel completely comfortable."

On the personnel changes from 2007 to 2009: "Temeka [Johnson] obviously is a big change at point guard. Sheís been so efficient and adapting to our style of play. Sheís pushing the ball and getting it up the floor to Diana [Taurasi] and Cappie [Pondexter] is the most important thing. Sheís really bought into Corey [Gainesí] style of play and does it so well."

On whether a good offense beats a good defense: "Itís an interesting concept and one that I absolutely love and one thatís proven to work. At the same time though, you know youíve got to play defense. Youíre playing against such good players from all over the world and you know youíve got to force them out from what they want. I think against L.A. in the third game, we showed that when weíre out there with our energy and our style of play, we can play defense just as good as anyone."

MERCURY FORWARD LE'COE WILLINGHAM

On her personal goal for the Finals: "Iím just looking to do the same thing Iíve been doing all year and thatís do all the little things rebounding, pushing out, boxing out, being the enforcer out there and getting up the court and getting the shooters open, doing all the intangible things. Those are the things Iím looking to do. Everything Iíve done the entire year plus a little bit more. As far as our style, we just want to play Mercury basketball and continue to do the things weíve been successful at."

On Game 1 being at home: "I think itís a huge advantage. Itís always awesome to play here in Phoenix in front of these fans who are so rambunctious and loud and cheering us on. We always say they are our X-factor and our sixth man. Itís a good feeling to relax and to be here. Two games here and if you start them of right, then you are looking good going into the away games."

On mentally preparing for the Finals: "Basically, this is it. This is what you have been playing for and working hard for all year. You just leave it all out on the court, everything."

On starting in the Finals: "I didnít think about it like that. Iíve been thinking about just having this opportunity again to be here in the finals and third time is a charm hopefully. Itís just an awesome feeling to be back, starting or not starting, itís just awesome to be in this position."

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