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September 25, 2012

Rebecca Lobo

RON HOWARD:  Welcome to all the media who have joined us.  Once again on the call we're going to begin with ESPN analyst, Rebecca Lobo.  Followed by coaches, Lin Dunn, Dan Hughes, and Cheryl Reeve, and then by players, Seimone Augustus, Katie Douglas, Becky Hammon, Kara Lawson, and Kristi Toliver.  We'd like to begin right away with Rebecca.

Q.  The Liberty have a long history of sort of having bad runs during the season, even backing into the playoffs totally.  Then once they're there, they start raising holy heck.  Is there any chance that they can call off that old playoff magic and surprise the Sun for even one game?
REBECCA LOBO:  Of course there is a chance.  I wouldn't say they would surprise the Sun, but I think because the Sun are expecting a tough series with New York.  Even though Connecticut won four of the games this year, except for one, they were relatively close, well‑played games, fun, exciting games.  A lot has been talked about the difference in the postseason experience between these two teams.  Connecticut has Kara Lawson and Asjha Jones who have experience winning in the postseason.
But for the most part, there are other players that do not have experience winning in the postseason, and that is a very different story when you look at the Liberty roster.
So playoff time is a time when experience matters.  Knowing how to win matters.  Having championship experience can matter, and New York has a lot of those things.

Q.  The Fever made it to the finals in 2009, and have stayed relatively intact.  Do you think that this team might be good enough to get to that level again?  Because they start against Atlanta which you eliminated the last year, and they'd have to win a game at Connecticut in order to even get to the finals, if they got even to the Eastern Conference finals.
REBECCA LOBO:  Well, you know, this will be a little bit of a similar answer to the last one.  They've had players who have been there before.  Who might not have won the championship, but have won games in the WNBA finals.  You know, Catchings is healthy, and she's unbelievably dangerous when she's healthy.  I think the question for them, of course, is the health of January and Zellous.  They need those two young, energetic players in this first round because Atlanta likes to run.  They're youthful and Indiana really needs to have those two players healthy.  Could they win the conference championship, I think without question, they could.

Q.  You don't think that the window is completely closed on them yet?
REBECCA LOBO:  No, no, I do not.

Q.  Do you think that the Lynx have anything that you see that could be exploited by either of their Western Conference opponents, either the Storm or potentially the Sparks or Silver Stars?
REBECCA LOBO:  Do I think they have any weaknesses?

Q.  Yeah, anything that stands out that can be exploited by any of their potential opponents?
REBECCA LOBO:  No, I don't look at that.  When I watch Minnesota play I don't look and think this is an area they can be exploited.  They're so talented offensively.  They've got scoring at every position.  They've got three Olympians on the team.  They're a good defensive team that gets out really well in transition.  They did not skip a beat once they came back from the Olympics in terms of the intensity level.  As long as their main guns are healthy, I don't see a weakness.
That doesn't mean I don't think they could lose a game.  I just think that I don't see a weakness when I look at their team.

Q.  Do you see anything in Los Angeles, because I'm out here in Los Angeles that would enable them, anything in particular that enables them to be uniquely challenging to the Lynx?
REBECCA LOBO:  Their ability to score from inside and outside.  Los Angeles is really a talented team, and Kristi Toliver can be unguardable at times.  Candace Parker can be unguardable at times.
I think one area where Minnesota has the edge on L.A. is in their depths.  You know, L.A. really only plays seven.  Minnesota goes deeper than that.  You really only need seven to win a championship.  L.A. has what it takes to win a championship.  They are a very dangerous team.  So I can't point to any weaknesses.  That doesn't mean that L.A. couldn't come out of the west.

Q.  Who do you think is going to be the surprise team in this year's playoffs?
REBECCA LOBO:  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure.  Would it surprise me if Seattle came out of the west?  That would surprise me.  But if Lauren Jackson plays the way she's played in stretches since her return and they start clicking, they could work some magic.
Maybe people would see Connecticut as the surprise team, even though they've won the regular season the East, because they haven't been to the finals in a while.  Perhaps people would see them as a surprise team.  But this is a year where I do think that Minnesota, and they've proven all season long they've been the most consistent, best team.
But nothing would really surprise me in terms of a final's match‑up.  I think maybe Seattle would surprise me the most just because they don't have a long time in terms of between now and the game on Friday.  But to make all their chemistry come together since Lauren hasn't played as much, but you never know.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Maya Moore, she seems to have elevated her game in the second half of the season.  Do you think she's the Lynx best player? What do you see from her in the future?
REBECCA LOBO:  They have so many good players.  I voted for Lindsay last year because of what she did on that team.  And she and Seimone Augustus and Cappie are the most difficult to defend one‑on‑one offensive players in the league.  But then you see Maya have the type of second half she's had this year, and the big shots and big threes she's been able to make in big moments for them, she's been playing great.
It's hard when you look at Minnesota because they have so many good pieces and they compliment one another so well to say that this piece or that piece is the best player ‑‑ I think that's what's going to hurt them in some ways in terms of MVP voting, or even first and second team.  When you look at the roster and try to figure out who is the best player, it's hard to do.  But I'm sure Cheryl Reeve is happy to have that problem.

Q.  If San Antonio and Sophia Young, do you think they've been a bit under the radar and could challenge L.A. in the round, especially since they've had early season success against the Sparks?
REBECCA LOBO:  I think they've been under the radar, yes.  I absolutely think they can challenge the Sparks.  It's going to be a fun match‑up.  They beat them three out of four, granted those three were in June.  But San Antonio played really well to close out the season.  Danielle Robinson looks great.  They've got some people who can be match‑up problems, especially Danielle Adams coming in off the bench.  Yeah, I think they've been a bit under the radar, and again, that's a team that would not surprise me if they were representing the West in the WNBA finals.
They've got the pieces.  Dan Hughes is a great coach.  They are fun.  But, yeah, they don't have a player like Candace Parker or Kristi Toliver who is making the big splash in terms of MVP talk or what Minnesota was doing.
Even when they went on their 12‑game win streak, it seemed like it went under the radar a little bit.

Q.  We've talked about on the Sparks, Kristi Toliver and Candace Parker.  I wonder if you could speak a little about the impact that Nneka Ogwumike has had on the Sparks team this year?  Maybe how well the game, her game, and Candace Parker, how they've and integrateted with each other this season?
REBECCA LOBO:  Well, not only the impact of Nneka, but Alana Beard in the second half of the season and her offensive production has both been phenomenal.  And Nneka's the type of player that I think no matter where she was, she would have fit in seamlessly with whoever she was playing alongside, and she would have produced, because that is the type of player she is.
She just has a great attitude, and a great work ethic on the court.  She's relentless when she goes on the offensive and defensive glass.  She's the kind of player who would just get it done, and it's been great for Candace.  Because of the type of player that on Nneka is she's had a great year out in L.A., no question, the Rookie of the Year in the WNBA.
And I think that the way she plays hard all the time, defensively, she makes an impact, but especially on the glass.  I think it makes her teammates play harder because of how hard she plays.  I think she's had that impact on L.A.

Q.  What players do you think are most capable of single‑handedly winning a playoff game or even a playoff series for their team?
REBECCA LOBO:  Kristi Toliver would be one, because I've seen her at times this season when she's been completely unguardable.  She makes more crazy fall‑away shots than I've seen from a lot of people.  She is one that could single‑handedly win a game.  Cappie Pondexter would be another.  And I'll speak mostly of guards because you can do things to keep the ball out of post players hands, as great a player as Tina Charles is, she still counts on guards to get her the basketball.
If you decide to triple‑team a big guy, then you can limit them a little bit more than an explosive perimeter player.  So Toliver, Cappie Pondexter, Seimone Augustus would be another one that I would put there.  Becky Hammon has had moments like that as well.
Tamika Catchings would be another.  Even though she's playing the post this year, she's the type of player that can bring the ball down the floor and just kind of take over.  Oh, and Angel McCaughtry, too.  Again, an explosive player who when she is at the top of her game is unguardable.

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