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WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE


September 25, 2012


Seimone Augustus

Katie Douglas

Becky Hammon

Kara Lawson

Kristi Toliver


RON HOWARD:  Joining us from the Minnesota Lynx, Seimone Augustus, from the Indiana Fever, Katie Douglas, from the San Antonio Silver Stars, Becky Hammon, and from the Connecticut Sun, Kara Lawson and Kristi Toliver of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Q.¬† Becky, you've been a heartbreaker for this franchise the last few years.¬† Are you expecting anything different this time around and I have a follow‑up to that?
BECKY HAMMON:  Obviously we have a pretty good rivalry with L.A.  We've had some really good battles with them this year.  I think they're playing very well.  The last few weeks they've been peaking at the right time.  Obviously, Candace Parker has been playing at another level for them.  And Kristi Toliver is having an all-around great year.
We just want to come in, focused and be who we are.¬† I think just defensively we've got to be on our toes with them.¬† We have so many great one‑on‑one players.¬† So it's going to take a team effort for us.¬† It's always been like that for us.¬† It's not like we have all these one‑on‑one players.¬† We truly try to beat people as a team, so that isn't any different.
We're looking forward to the match‑up, and know it's going to be a war with the given history of our two teams?

Q.  You kind of touched on this, but you beat this team and took three or four from this team this season.  What are you maybe saying looking at the film that tells you that the Sparks team that you're going to be facing in this coming series are different than the team that you played in the regular season?
BECKY HAMMON:  I think when you look at L.A. in years past, I think the greatest feat that Coach Ross has done is gotten them to play together.  They're a lot more dangerous that way.  So like I say, we're going to have a game plan, try to execute the game plan as best as possible.  Defensively and offensively we're going to have two to three points that we want to hit defensively, and two to three points offensively.
But I think with Ogwumike in the mix, they're obviously one of the best rebounding teams in the league, them and Minnesota.  We'll just try to put their players in difficult positions, and, you know, hope one of them has an off night because when they get it going, they can be really difficult.

Q.¬† Seimone, Seattle has been really kind of an up‑and‑down team in part because they didn't have Lauren.¬† They're kind of still finding their identity a little bit, even this late in the season.¬† Can you just talk about what that match‑up is like?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:¬† Yeah, they're a dangerous team with or without Lauren, but they're that much more dangerous when she's there.¬† In defensive schemes, it's kind of hard to pick what player you want to try to take away, because she's good at what she does, and in the pick‑and‑roll situations, it's a tough defensive scheme.¬† The best thing we can do is come out and match their intensity and be aggressive on the defensive end.
But as far as having a dominant game plan, I don't think so.¬† I think Lauren and Sue and the rest of the players are finding their way.¬† It's going to be a tough match‑up either way.

Q.  Katie, you guys are facing Atlanta again.  They were a problem last year when you met in the Eastern Conference finals.  Can you maybe talk about how you can counter that or hope to counter that a little better?
KATIE DOUGLAS:  I think that we're kind of a different team than we were last year.  Obviously, Catchings is playing the four this year, so we'll have a different look.  I think we can go small.  We've played with a lot of different lineups.  So I think we've played well against them in our series, and in the regular season against Atlanta.  So I think we've tried to counter what they did to us last year going small.
We tried to counter that this year in the regular season in our series.¬† So it's definitely going to be a very fast, up‑tempo kind of series which I think all the players are probably looking forward to.¬† But I think we're going to do some things to try to disrupt them and try to pull them down.¬† They're extremely explosive, athletic and talented.¬† But we're going to try to do some things to try to disrupt them.¬† I think it's going to be a great match‑up between us and Atlanta.

Q.¬† Becky and Kristi, I wonder if each of you might handicap what you see as the key factors that will decide the L.A.‑San Antonio match‑up?
KRISTI TOLIVER:  Yeah, we want to win the battle of the boys, and that is the biggest thing.  We've got a phenomenal rebounder in Nneka and Candace, so if we can control the boards, we can get out and play at the pace that we want to play in.
So for us, rebounding is really the key.¬† Offense always comes and goes.¬† We don't want to live and die by that.¬† We have a lot of great one‑on‑one players offensively, but we want to get in control of the game and prevent them from getting up‑and‑down.
ATHLETE:  For us, it's probably similar.  The battle of the boards is always huge.  We have a tremendous amount of respect for the play that they play.  We're aware they love getting out in transition, and they have players that can make some great plays in and out transition.  They can lead the break with two or three people, so that puts your defensive transition in a bit of a dilemma when you have Candace leading the break.
So we're putting in a couple of things, like I said, to just try to slow them down a little bit, as well as just being really focused on blocking out and rebounding they're pretty much bigger and more athletic at every spot than us.  So we'll have to play very fundamental basketball in order to compete with them.

Q.  Kara Lawson, you guys already have increased your schedule because you saw a lot of New York, and now you haven't seen them for a month.  If you on guys look at film, do you see them playing better in regards or anything they're doing differently or anybody that's stepped up?
KARA LAWSON:  Yeah, it's been a while since we've played them.  I mean, I think they're playing as a team better since we've last seen them.  Cappie's been more aggressive here in the second half of the season, and more assertive on the offensive end.  She's one of the most difficult players to guard in this league because she can score in a lot of different ways.
They changed their starting lineups since the last time we played them.  Mitchell's starting at the point, and now they have Cappie starting at the one.  That gives them a little more size on the wings.
But they're a big, physical, tough team.  Every one of the games, except for one of them that we played this year was a couple of possession game in the last four or five minutes.  So we expect everything to be at a high level because it's the playoffs.  They have a lot of experience on that team.  So we have to play the way we played all season long, and utilize the strengths we have against them.

Q.  (Indiscernible)in Sacramento, but can you define that a little bit?  Can you compare and contrast coaching styles?
KARA LAWSON:  Yeah, they're pretty different.  Whis is obviously very, very much concentrated on defense and how we play on that end.  He's pretty rigid in terms of how he wants us to play certain situations that come up defensively.  So we didn't have much flexibility.  We kind of did things the same way every time.  The philosophy there was if you do the same thing every time, it's going to become instinctive.  And with a lot of different players you can take the offenses and it worked really well.
Coach Thibault's more on the defensive end, just more flexibility.¬† So we do a lot of different coverages.¬† Depending on the match‑up and the team, we'll change things up a lot.¬† Same thing on the offensive end, just a lot more plays.¬† A lot of different sets drawn up throughout the course of the game, not just in practice, but throughout the course of the game.¬† So they're pretty different in the way they coach the games?

Q.¬† Kristi, you guys like to do a lot of switching out on the wings defensively.¬† You're going to be going against a really challenging duo in a dynamic, unpredictable scoring, Becky, and you'll give up a size advantage to a very athletic Danielle Robinson.¬† What thoughts do you have going into that match‑up defensively at the guard position?¬† What do you think is key to the guards having success there?
KRISTI TOLIVER:  Yeah, they score in different ways, obviously.  They're athletic once they get to the rim.  I think they have the fastest point guard in the league.  Becky just has a style and a flag that is unlike any other point guard.  So the main thing is just really keeping it a difficult task.  So you've got to try to slow her down.  She's not predictable.  She's another hard guard.
So for us, we try to use our size and athleticism.  I mean, our size is definitely our advantage, so we'll have to tweak things in order to use our strengths.  But no matter what happens, it's not going to be easy by any means.

Q.  You've developed into sort of a Becky Hammon style scorer and guard.  Becky has been a tough player for the Sparks for a number of years.  Are you looking to the series to maybe do a changing of the guard?  Sorry for the pun, but in that this is maybe your chance to emerge and establish yourself as a great playoff scorer and guard?
KRISTI TOLIVER:  Yeah, anybody that wants to compare me to Becky, I'll take it.  I think that's a little much.  She's been one of the players that I've always watched as a younger player.  Just because we've struggled in the size department, we find our way forward.  And she's like no other guard in the league with her size.
I think I need to do the things I've been doing all season hopefully it turns out well.  Again, she's going to be a tough guard.  I'm a tough guard for some of them.  So it will be a battle.  It will be competitive, and I really just can't wait to get it started.

Q.¬† I know you guys are all focused on the playoffs, but there is actually a big event tomorrow.¬† The draft is going to take place tomorrow night on Sportscenter.¬† Obviously your off‑season job is evaluating women's college basketball.¬† I wonder what some of your thoughts are on maybe how transformational the draft could be, especially the top three spots?¬† If anybody else on the call wants to chime in, will you be watching it?¬† Are you interested to see how that goes since it's coming so quickly after the regular season?
BECKY HAMMON:  I don't think I'll watch it, but I'll certainly see the results at some point.  Yeah, I think you just wish there were three Western teams in the lottery so they could all go west, I think.  This class is very, very good.  Obviously, Brittney Griner is going to make things very difficult for all players with how much she's going to change things defensively with her length and just with her athleticism.
I think this class has the ability to be right up there with some of the best classes that have come in.  But Griner to me specifically stands out that you can put her anywhere, and she'll have a huge impact and ability to transform a team.  If she goes to a city that maybe hasn't been getting as great support, she has the opportunity to transform that community in terms of women's basketball and getting people out to watch games.

Q.  Seimone, can you talk about the difference from this year to last year in terms of your confidence coming off the championship that you did win last year?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  I mean, my mindset is the same going into the playoffs.  You want to put yourself in a position to win starting with the first round.  You don't want to look too far ahead as far as defending a title.  You've got to get past the first round, second round to get back to the finals.  So just being focused in on what we need to do against Seattle is the most important thing right now.  Defensively getting out there, and offensively efficient and more poised on the court.
RON HOWARD:  All right, thank you so much for your time, and we wish you the best of luck as you start the playoffs.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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