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September 12, 2018

Elena Delle Donne

Kristi Toliver

Seattle, Washington

Storm - 98, Mystics - 82.

Q. Elena, when you came here it was with the goal of winning a championship, and you are now two years in. I'm wondering where you see the state of the team, how close you think you are, and whether you can see how to get there from here.
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, I mean, we had a great season. I'm super proud of the way we bounced back from a lot of adversity that we faced all season long. Obviously this Finals didn't go the way we wanted it to, but I think the great thing is that we can still improve. We don't feel like we've peaked and this was it for us. We feel like we've got a lot of young, great talent, and obviously this isn't how we wanted it to end, but it's an experience that we can grow from. So hopefully everybody goes off to wherever they're going this off-season but continues to improve, get better, and then come back and regroup and build off of this season.

Q. Kristi, kind of a similar question. When you look back at the season and the big picture, where do you see it and kind of your thoughts on just the season overall, not just the series.
KRISTI TOLIVER: A successful one. I mean, you can't be unsuccessful if you're in the Finals. You have to think big picture, and this team made a lot of great strides from last year into this year. We showed a lot of character this year, a lot of resiliency coming off after the All-Star break playing really well, and then obviously to make the Finals against a really great team. It didn't go our way, but you've got to keep things in perspective, and everybody else in the league wishes that they were playing tonight, and so we're very aware of that and thankful that we were here, and we know we can improve. And so we will.

That Seattle core has been together for a while, outside of Howard. To me it kind of reminds me of Minnesota and how they had their core together when they made those runs. We're still new. We're still getting to learn one another. We'll have another year next year, and we'll continue to get better and see if we can get back.

Q. Coach told us that he talked to you guys briefly, saying that he was proud of you and just what you guys can also improve on. Being the captains, being kind of the veteran leaders, was there anything that you two told the team in the locker room just now?
KRISTI TOLIVER: No. I mean, I think this is a time that you just reflect. We all know that we're happy and we're proud of where we were at, but we want to be better, and I don't think you have to say that. I think everybody knows. We're going to meet tomorrow, and I'm sure we'll all say what we want to say. But for right now, we're just kind of soaking in what happened.

Q. I know it's been tough going to different venues for all these games, but really good crowds and really sort of maybe gives you a preview of what you're looking forward to next year in a real true home-court advantage. Is that something that you guys can maybe sort of feed off of and are really looking forward to as like a day-to-day thing next year?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, that'll be great, having a home that we can't get kicked out of, hopefully. But both Kristi and I have talked about it. We've seen such a growth in our fan base these past two years. Not going to lie, it was a little quiet when we first came out for our first game, and now look at it. Which obviously winning helps, but we can really create something here, and I think we've really grown this fan base, and they're behind us. They're proud of us, and they know we're not satisfied, and we want to do more.

But I think it'll be huge having our own home, our fans will have a consistent place to show up and watch us play. It's a smaller arena, so it'll be loud, crowded, and kind of have that playoff atmosphere all year long.

Q. Elena, you guys started off just getting to know each other as a roster last year. Can you give us a sense of now two full seasons later how close you guys have become?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, there's been a huge transformation in the culture of this team. Last year we were brand new. We didn't know -- I mean, I didn't even know her favorite beer, and that's a pretty important thing to know about Panda. Now I can go to the bar, order her everything she needs, know what I need to --

KRISTI TOLIVER: I'm going to need a lot tonight.

ELENA DELLE DONNE: To get her -- trust me, I know, I've got you, Panda. But just even certain things like that, knowing people's favorite musicians, things outside of basketball. Obviously the basketball stuff, like knowing she likes a dribble hand-off, knowing she's not a huge fan of the flares, all that stuff.

KRISTI TOLIVER: Quit telling the secrets.

ELENA DELLE DONNE: Everybody knows this. They still can't guard you. So yeah, she loves flares, hates dribble hand-offs. But no, certain things like that on court is huge, but I think the stuff off court is even bigger, knowing each other's families, dogs, all of that. Wrigley writes her messages on Instagram all the time. Things like that. That's what it's all about. That's where the fun comes, the camaraderie. We're only out there on the court a little bit of time together, but the moments that we spend hanging out in the airport, playing "would you rather," hanging out, getting dinner together, those are the moments that are so special, and what we're actually probably going to miss the most now that this season has ended.

Q. Elena, now that the series is over, can you discuss how you were affected by the knee injury?
ELENA DELLE DONNE: I mean, it was different. I unfortunately wasn't able to practice a lot in the moments that we had off, so I was kind of trying to figure out my go-to moves as games were going on and just trying to get comfortable finding different ways. I'm a very left-footed player. I like to push off one leg, and floaters, step-backs, all that off my left leg, so just trying to find a different way to get it done. I felt more and more uncomfortable as we kept going.

Q. On one hand from the franchise side it's building yourselves to be that fierce fighting machine. But this year the league kind of was setting records for setting records every night, and it just seemed like night after night was a challenge, just how much tougher it is now to go out there and play a full schedule.
ELENA DELLE DONNE: Yeah, this league is so talented. I mean, next year there's going to be teams that were super young this year that grew so much throughout the season, and so many teams were knocking on that door just to even get into Playoffs. It's going to be grueling. Even more grueling next year than this year. So we know how great the teams are and how much better we have to be. We're not just going to be satisfied that we got here this season. We know we've got to improve because everybody else is.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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