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October 14, 2015

Cheryl Reeve


Indiana Fever - 52
Minnesota Lynx - 69

COACH REEVE: Well, this never gets old, kind of coming to the microphone champagne soaked. I think I got the worst of it. I don't know how Maya looked so damn dry.
We really talked about this entire series that, if we played great defense‑‑ I just wanted to give our players the confidence that, if we play great defense, we're going to win a Championship. I thought we had moments that we were really good, just not as consistently as we were good tonight.
So we kind of came into the locker room before the game and said, this is it. This is our chance to play great defense. We did every bit of it. I think we were really hard to play against. What an unbelievable series.
I want to congratulate Stephanie White and the Indiana Fever on a great playoff run. I liken them to the monster‑‑ I don't play much video games, but the monster that you kind of like hit and you hit and they start to stumble but they never fall. And you give them like that hit, and they're laying on the ground and you think they're dead, and all of a sudden, they jump up at you, and they're not going away. That's the Indiana Fever. That's because of Tamika Catchings and Stephanie White. So I really want to take my hat off to them.
And I certainly want to thank our business staff, Carley Knox and Jake Vernon do an unbelievable job of giving us this environment here. And kudos to our fans for coming out and supporting a Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. I'm just thrilled we had a chance to win a Championship for them right here in front of them.

Q. Cheryl, Sylvia was obviously really huge, but to see Seimone play the way she did, to see Brunson play the way she did, was it kind of special to have those vintage performances to put you guys over the edge here?
COACH REEVE: Sylvia, obviously, was big in this series. When she was in foul trouble, it was a problem for us. Game 1 and 2 here, she was really good, scored 20. Game 3, she was really good, but it was more distributing the basketball, and we were able to play off of her. It was one of our better offensive games because we shared the ball and we didn't force things. Game 4, we virtually played without her. And then obviously stepped up in a big, big way.
She knew she was the key to this game offensively and defensively. I don't think Syl gets enough credit in that area, how she defends the pick‑and‑roll.
For Seimone, it's about damn time. It's about damn time. She played well in Game 1 against L.A. We hadn't seen her since then. It was great to have a Seimone Augustus sighting in Game 5 in front of her fans.

Q. The defense in the middle quarters was terrific, but especially against Briann January, who's been troublesome for you guys the whole series. The fact you guys were able to shut her down, no points in the second quarter and then get like one bucket in the third, how key was that to just the whole defensive effort?
COACH REEVE: It was huge. Briann obviously got them off to a good start in this game. I thought she got them off to a good start in the series. The January‑Larkins screening action is really hard to play against. And I give our guards a lot of credit because they took some licks against the screens of Larkins. Her timing is terrific. I think January's reads were terrific.
So I just think, as each game wore on, they got more and more confident how they were defending it and how to get through the screens. And I thought it was key kind of slowing her role because she got off to another good start here tonight.
We just thought that Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman had their way with us. When we did get January under control in this series, all of a sudden, here comes Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman. We increased the heat on those two. I think that was the difference. If you put a lot of pressure that January is going to make all of her shots, knowing that Johnson and Coleman weren't going to get going, that was a big factor for us. So I credit Seimone and Maya for that.

Q. If you saw the box score before the game with Maya with five points, what do you think the final score is going to be?
COACH REEVE: We get beat by 20. We get beat by 20. What a testament to this team, you know. I think probably it tells our story. I think Game 5 tells our story. First and foremost, we didn't do anything easy. This was not an easy year for us by any stretch. Just finding a way and having people step up for us.
We don't get enough credit for our depth. Largely, people think that I don't play people enough. I think that we don't have Western Conference home court advantage without Renee and Anna. There's no question about it. Devereaux Peters, the play of her throughout the playoffs was really, really big. And I thought tonight was a testament to those guys really stepping up.
Obviously, Syl was big. I thought Whalen played well in Game 4 and Game 5. And then Seimone being Seimone, that was really important for us.

Q. Cheryl, yesterday you talked about how this isn't a team on the rise, this is a team at its peak, and it's probably going to‑‑ it's not going to go up any further. To get it done for a third time in five years, just what does it mean to you, and what does it mean to the people who were here for all three of them?
COACH REEVE: I experienced a great deal of emotion when we made the finals. I think because I have an appreciation of where these guys are and how hard it was, overall health. I think that, when you put things out in the universe as much as the media has, you can't help but be human, and I think that maybe Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah kind of heard the words of kind of that they were old, older, whatever it was, and that this thing was coming to an end and maybe even this year, we weren't going to be able to get through it this year.
I think that those are things that kind of fuel this group. At the same time, I think it made them appreciate things. Each time we're together, it gets harder and harder. The rise is always the easiest, as people tell you. Staying here is incredibly difficult, and you don't do it without the fortitude of players like Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah Brunson.
By the way, please talk about Rebekkah Brunson because she was absent for four games and she really showed up in a big way. We're not in the WNBA Finals without Rebekkah Brunson in the L.A. series and the Phoenix series, and then certainly in Game 5 she showed up in a big, big way.

Q. Coach, I'd just like to take the opportunity to pick your mind for some coaching tips. One part of that would be, with Sylvia Fowles, you got more out of her in this half‑‑ and also the same question I asked of Coach White with respect to the crowd, the turnout that the local support in Indiana, you also have local support that many teams in this league would just be salivating for. How do you do that?
COACH REEVE: Wow, some really good questions. I'm not sure on the Sylvia Fowles front. I think Syl's been a great player for a long time. She's an Olympian for a reason. I think she was important to our team because she's so different than what we've had. So it's important that we acquire a player like that.
Obviously, playing against Griner in the West, everybody's trying to get a little bit bigger. But I just think for us, being able to have that presence, it was going to take some pressure off of great players like Lindsay, Seimone, and Maya. I'm not sure we necessarily got more out of her. I think the series really suited her.
If you look at the strengths of our team, look at strengths of their team, we definitely targeted that one to five feet. It was a battle of one to five feet. You guys didn't talk about that very much. Indiana was persistent. They scored the second highest points one to five feet, but they also gave up the second worst percentage one to five feet. So we really viewed the series as a battle of one to five feet, and whoever won that in each game was who I thought was the victor in each game.
I think Sylvia Fowles coming here and embracing everything about what we do, being so coachable‑‑ when you're at the professional level, you don't see a player, when you call her name, that she looks at you in a way that she's eager to hear what you're about to say and even runs over to you. You don't see that in the professional basketball. And so I think it's about‑‑ it's a testament to Syl. She had to hear some stuff that our team had a hard time incorporating her, that it was a problem having Sylvia Fowles.
I'd say the problem was the coach, you know, play calling. Play calling when she first got here, trying to figure her out and learn her. Syl just stayed with it no matter what. I'm so incredibly proud. I'm just so glad it worked out for her in this way.
I forget what the next question was. Oh, about our fan base. I think our business staff does an unbelievable job, led by Carley Knox, Director of Business, who I think understands how to leverage our success, I think, better than anybody in the league, and she's done that throughout her time here. It's no different tonight.
Give credit to Indiana. They had an unbelievable crowd, but we're going to have the highest revenue of any playoff game. That speaks volumes because not only do you have the people in the stands, but you have paying customers. That's really important for this league. So that was really impressive, and I want to take my hat off on behalf of the team. Thank the business staff for the entire season to give us an unbelievable environment.
Yeah, we have to win. You have to have an exciting team, but you have to have a group behind you that believes in what you're doing. We have, obviously, a brother team support us from the standpoint of you have no choice but to support us because we're really, really good.
And I think you have someone like Carley, who is going to come forward and say, this is how we're going to do it. And I thought the addition of Jake Vernon on our staff was really good. And they just were really aggressive in putting people in the stands.
It is not easy to sell playoffs for the WNBA. It's not the same as where if the Wolves were to make it, where you just stand by the phone and wait to pick it up. You have to work really, really hard, and you have to be very, very creative, and I think our staff is one of the best in the league at providing us this environment, and we thank them so much.

Q. Cheryl, Maya wins another title but didn't have her typical game tonight. Also doesn't seem concerned by that. Is that what you see every day from her?
COACH REEVE: Absolutely. Maya is about winning. If you know Maya, Maya is one of the best people you ever come around. She's a tremendous teammate. At no point in time did Maya‑‑ obviously, she wanted to play better. But I thought that her activity on defense was really important.
Obviously, you guys don't pay much attention to that kind of thing, but we look at Maya's box score and think she didn't play very well, but I thought her activity on defense was really good. I thought that she moved the ball when necessary.
I knew we were going to be okay. We had a really good shootaround. We had a really focused‑‑ we had a nice video session yesterday, where we were disappointed in Game 4. Then I thought we came out in shootaround and had a great focus about what we were going to do tonight, and we carried that shootaround. Maya was one of the players that was really locked in. The box score doesn't show it, but I thought Maya was really instrumental tonight.

Q. Having Devereaux Peters come off the bench and defend that screen action that Indiana likes to run, how important was that?
COACH REEVE: Dev's probably‑‑ every coach has their person that takes a little more of a tongue lashing than others, and Dev is my person largely because I know she can handle it, and Dev has high expectations of herself.
Dev was good at times, and I had to get on her early. I thought that she settled in and helped us as the game wore on. Dev had a great series. Dev hit some big shots for us. And Dev has been big all season for us to be able to give us a different look than what we have.
And Rebekkah Brunson, who there's not a better power forward defender in the league than Rebekkah Brunson, and Dev comes in behind that group and gives us a different look and embraces her role. Dev was big for us in this series, and I'm really happy for her.

Q. Cheryl, you won the first two on the road. What was it like to be here and be in this building and celebrate with these fans and your own locker room?
COACH REEVE: Best way to describe it is surreal. I'm a real coach when it comes to this kind of stuff because I just don't let myself go there in terms of thinking about beforehand what it would feel like. So when you're in the moment, all of a sudden, there's two minutes to go and you're up double figures, you're thinking, is this really happening?
I knew, when I first stepped onto the floor, I just looked around and was really impressed with the crowd that we had. I was really hopeful that we weren't going to let them down. They were there with us. Our crowd all season long has been just a diehard group that pushes us through some tough times.
I know, when it got towards the end, it was just really, really special. Our fans requested that we win one at home, and I don't necessarily know that that was our plan, but it worked out in a way that‑‑ I mean, how more exciting do you get that a Game 5 in front of your home fans with the turnout that we had, and they were incredibly engaged?
To stand there as a group in front of our fans, I just think that both groups deserved it. Our players deserved it because I tell our players all the time, they built this. Our players built this, what they're experiencing. And then our fans, just to be able to connect and identify with our group is a really, really special time in our franchise history.
So I hope that both groups really soaked it up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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