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October 2, 2013

Seimone Augustus

Cheryl Reeve

THE MODERATOR:  Cheryl and Seimone, thank you so much for joining us and giving us your time.  Congratulations on reaching the finals.
To our media, thank you for joining us as well.  We are going to begin, not with opening statements, but with everyone queueing up for questions immediately for Cheryl and Seimone.

Q.  Hey, guys, congrats on making the finals.  Cheryl, can you talk a little bit about‑‑ I know we mentioned before the mindset of this team this whole season getting back to the finals and trying to get that second title in three years.  Seimone, the same question.
COACH REEVE:  I think we had a pretty focused group since the very beginning of the season, led by Seimone, Lindsey, and Rebekkah.
I think that the experience we had in our first Championship run and then having a tremendous season to follow that up and not quite finishing the job, it allowed us to kind of come in with a great focus of what needed to be done and had another great regular season, played pretty well through the playoffs to this point.
I think they're hungry.  I think they're hungry to get that hardware back.

Q.  Just, Seimone, how hungry you guys are to get that title again?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  I think we're very hungry.  We're a determined group of women that all year long we've been talking about holding our destiny and our goals in our hand, and now we have a chance at another title, which is where we wanted to be, especially after last year and not ending the season the way we wanted to.
To be back here is a privilege, and an honor we're going to do our best to take advantage of it.

Q.  Hi, Coach Reeve.  Hi, Seimone.  First, I wanted to ask if both of you could talk about the difficulties that Angel McCoughtry presents, what she does offensively and defensively that make her such an effective player.
COACH REEVE:  I can speak, Michelle, from a coach's perspective, having watched a lot of video, that she has amazing athletic gifts that make it very challenging.  Despite knowing what you need to do to defend her, it's a challenge to get it done because she is so gifted.
She's an incredibly determined player, has a strong will, and I think the word relentless is what comes to mind for me the most when watching her.  Whatever she's doing, she has a relentless approach about her.  That makes it very, very challenging, and I think our team feeds off of that.
Seimone can speak to actually having to guard her.  I don't get that challenge.  Seimone will tell you those challenges.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  Angel is a tough guard.  Everything that Coach said about being a determined player and also an extremely athletic player.  Angel is going to do things that we don't know what Angel is going to do, and Angel doesn't know at times what Angel is going to do.  So it makes it a lot more difficult at times to guard her.
I think the coaching staff there has done a great job of putting her in spots to be effective.  Running her on the perimeter, running her up the floor a little bit, trying to open up the defense and open up the floor a little bit.
It's going to be a great game.  Two great teams going against each other with two or three of the best players in this league just going head to head, playing great basketball.

Q.  If I could follow that up a little bit.  Coach, forgive me, I'm going to ask you three things.  First, if you could expand a little on Angel.  I know she's a great scorer, but they're I think they're also able to use her as a decoy and do some different things.  There's different things she does out there other than just scoring.  I'm wondering if you could talk about your development in being more of a team player.  And the second question, if you could talk about Maya and just the different things that she's developed in her game in her short time in the league.
COACH REEVE:  Thank you.  I'm getting old.  That's a little tough for me.  And I'm a LaSalle grad, so you know I'm getting slower.
The first part about Angel, I think the hardest thing for us, us being in the west and them being in the east, you don't follow the teams as closely.  I can go on what we read.  I don't know Angel personally.  I'm not well connected to that group.
So I'm just speaking from, I guess, kind of hearsay.  People like yourself that writes about it or an ESPN, and they talk about it.  I can also look at statistically and see that Angel had one of her best all‑around seasons, not only scoring the ball to get the scoring title but to average over four assists.  She gets to the foul line the most of any player in the East.  She's her team's best defensive player, creates a lot of opportunities there on the offensive glass.  There are just so many ways that she impacts the game.
I think that probably the number one thing I've heard is a little more maturity.  I don't know where that comes from.  Maybe some of the roster changes that came about that led to this year's team maybe put Angel in a more peaceful place.  I'm speculating.  I don't know where Angel has kind of gotten her maybe newfound view of playing the game.  It's been impressive.  I think Fred gets a lot of credit for that.
And the question on Maya, Maya's maturity is probably the biggest thing.  Even from training camp until now, she's really evolved.  Her connection with the group.  Maya has a tendency, some of the stuff that she does is a little‑‑ not that it's individual in a selfish way, but there's things that she can just kind of do on her own.
So finding a way to remain a part of the group, to kind of really become a part of the fabric as opposed to being a little bit on the outside, I think she's really immersed herself into that, especially with the absence of Taj.  I think Taj was somebody that really kept her close to the starting five, really helped her.  With Taj out of there, I think that was a challenge for her when she first got back to training camp.
So she's matured.  I think she's developed into a young leader.  Her game, it's well‑documented she's become much more efficient on the offensive side.  She has made progress defensively although we didn't see it in the Phoenix series.
I think the overall growth of Maya, no question, makes it easier for Lindsey, Seimone, Rebekkah.  It makes our team a little more challenging because we've got some pretty darn good players.

Q.  If I could get one more in, for Coach Reeve.  You've watched‑‑ and I know she's in the other conference, but Erika de Souza's been in the league a long time.  She came in as a really young player.  It seems like she's really developed into one of the premier centers when she's on her game.  She's incredibly tough to stop.  Can you maybe talk a little about that development as you've seen it and where she is now in her game.
COACH REEVE:  We just talked about Erika in our staff meeting.  I've been watching a ton of video.  It actually brought me back to the days when she was in L.A. as a young player and just came into this league.  I was in Charlotte back in 2001/2002, and this young player wasn't playing very much because you had a center by the name of Lisa Leslie that was‑‑ things were centered around.
You know, and then I don't remember exactly how things went down.  I know she was in Connecticut, and however she got to Atlanta, all I can tell you is this is a player who's awfully imposing physically.  She has so many gifts, to be so big and so strong and yet so agile, to run the floor the way she runs the floor.
Now, I am going to petition the league for when she throws those fist pumps.  If she connects one of us in the face, she's got to be suspended for a game for fighting, right?  Isn't that what it's going to be?  I can't have that in the finals, right, Michelle?
Michelle, don't print that.  I'll get fined.

Q.  No.  I would not want to be in the way when she celebrates.  Thank you.
COACH REEVE:  You're welcome.

Q.  Can you talk about the similarities or differences between the two teams now that you're going to face in the finals again.
COACH REEVE:  The similarities are that both teams can score the ball and both teams like to defend.  I think the similarities probably stop there.
The way that Atlanta does it is very, very different than the way that we do it.  I think that's kind of the fun of the series as we prepare for it.  I know that they pose tremendous challenges at every position.  They're extremely athletic, and they'll challenge our defensive team in the same way I know that our players, our skill level will challenge their team.
We're similar probably only in statistical categories, but not in the way that we do it.

Q.  Coach, there's been a lot of talk this season about the growth in Maya Moore's game and Lindsey's game for a lot of reasons.  Often overlooked is the growth in Rebekkah Brunson's game.  Can you talk a little bit about how she's grown as a player this season and how you think she'll be effective against the Dream in this series?
COACH REEVE:  I think Rebekkah has grown in the area of leadership.  And it's well‑documented how hard she works.  She only knows one way to approach the game.  That hasn't changed for Rebekkah.  She has put a lot of time into her ability to shoot the basketball, and that's been extremely helpful to us.
She continues to be just a fierce rebounder, our best defender.  She's really embraced all that.  Through her leadership, I think she's become a little more outspoken, and that's been nice.  We've needed that.  That's probably the biggest thing.
She is over 30, so there's not a whole lot that they add at this point, taking care of their bodies and just try to continue to grow and show the young ones the way, and I think she's done that really well for us this season.

Q.  And my last question, this is your third finals appearance this year.  When you look at teams like the Houston Comets and the Detroit Shock that you were very much a part of, is there a sense of the Lynx possibly being the league's next great dynasty?  Do you think you guys have that potential down the road?
COACH REEVE:  That is premature.  I'm not going to comment about that.  That's way premature.  That's not where our minds are.

Q.  Congratulations, ladies.  This is for both of you.  If you can just talk about what single thing, if there is a surprise, that you didn't expect in your run in the playoffs thus far.
COACH REEVE:  Hey, Charles, how are you?

Q.  I'm doing fine, Cheryl.
COACH REEVE:  Seimone will take this.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  Can you repeat the question?

Q.  If you can, just pinpoint something that really surprised you in your success thus far in the playoffs.
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  I don't think nothing was surprising.  Oh, yeah, Coach Reeves hasn't gotten a technical foul.  So that's pretty good.
I think every team that we've faced we've expected.  The way they play, like Seattle, we expected a grind it out series with them.  We expected to go out to Tacoma and have a tough time trying to pull off that game two win.
After watching Phoenix play as well as they did against L.A., we expected to play against one of the top players in the league, Diana Taurasi, and have her try to will her team to a victory.  I really don't think anything was expected‑‑ I mean, unexpected for us.
And it's the same way with Atlanta.  Like Coach said, we kind of know each other.  We all kind of are the same in statistical areas.  It's a matter of who wants it more.  Obviously, Atlanta's going to come out and try to do whatever they can, at least steal a game on our home court to kind of turn the tables as far as having the home court advantage.

Q.  And a followup, if I may.  If both teams are off or have been off since Sunday and you play this coming Sunday, is there any advantage or disadvantage to either one of you, other than the obvious ones, you having the home court, having such a time‑‑ this much time off before the game?
SEIMONE AUGUSTUS:  The only advantage is having home court.  Other than that, everybody is probably happy to get a little bit of rest before we have to face a five‑game series.  I don't think it's any advantage or disadvantage when it comes to getting prepped for the biggest games of our careers.
THE MODERATOR:  If I can, just one second.  We have two more questions for Cheryl and Seimone, and then we will have to bring in our Atlanta folks.  Minnesota has to begin their practice.

Q.  Is this going to be the most difficult series or the one in which the post game becomes the most important for you?  I know there was a question to ask about Rebekkah and her performance, but she's been sort of quietly powerful there in the post the last two games.  [ No microphone ] how important is it going to be to have a really strong Brunson in this series?
COACH REEVE:  You were breaking up through most of the question.  I think what you're asking is about the importance of Rebekkah Brunson's defense, how important it's been and how important it's going to be in the series.
There's no question that, without Rebecca's effort in that area, that we wouldn't be sitting where we are today.  It has become extremely, extremely important in some of our matchups.  It will be no different in this series.  We count on Rebekkah to guard the guards that are playing for her.
We count on her to guard the 6'8" Griners and all the bigs, and just whatever we need.  Whether she's guarding Elena Delle Donne or Catchings or Erika de Souza or Brittney Griner, she just embraces it, and it's something she hangs her hat on.  It's what she's known for, and she takes great pride in it.

Q.  This question is for Coach Reeves.  Monica Wright was the major factor here in the July 9th win against the Dream.  I was just wondering how you would describe her value in this series coming off the bench and just generally, in the context of her role, her value as the sixth woman generally, but also just in terms of playing against a team with so much perimeter speed.
COACH REEVE:  I think my experience in the playoffs, especially when you get this far, that it really does become about your X‑factor players, and I would put Monica at the top of that for us.
What she's been giving us in versatility, whether it's, as you mentioned, either it's a high pressure situation from an athletic standpoint that I need her to be able to break through with her speed and quickness, or whether it's size, defending a Diana Taurasi, size and strength.
She's been really, really important on both sides of the ball for us, and there is no question that, if you look at our team, kind of like Tiffany Hayes for Atlanta, when she was coming off the bench, that when those types of players off the bench are productive, it makes it that much better for the starters, takes a little bit of pressure off of them, and that's going to be huge in the series.

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