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October 8, 2019

Curt Miller

Uncasville, Connecticut

Connecticut - 90, Washington - 86

CURT MILLER: Well, while we're excited for the win today, I want to start by giving a quick shout-out to our amazing crowd. They showed up both nights. It's been a really, really successful year at home for us. So for us to be able to send it back to Washington is really exciting for us, but we couldn't have done it without our crowd. Finishing 18-3 at home this year allows for this opportunity. And for everybody that plays a part inside Mohegan, the workers and the fan base, we can't thank you guys enough, and Connecticut truly showed out here in the Playoffs and really showed up. So really, really happy that way.

Huge win for us. Look forward to the questions. Weathered a difficult third quarter and was able to withstand that and gather ourselves and have a good enough fourth quarter to send this home, send this back to Washington.

Q. Jonquel had only 10 shots today, but it seemed like she was extremely involved. I know you've talked in terms of touches rather than shots. Take me through what your strategy was and how you felt it was implemented tonight for her specifically.
CURT MILLER: Yeah, we went stretches without her touching it, which was frustrating, but her activity never stopped. I thought she was really active around the glass, even when she wasn't touching. I thought she screened better tonight, and then we got her touches when we needed in the fourth quarter to get a rim run after the amount of minutes that she plays, and how much physicality she has to handle and go through.

A big turnaround late. We got in the middle of the floor and got her more touches down the stretch, and I think it was really, really important, since we went stretches at times without her getting touches.

She's still so important. It's not always shot attempts. It's being able to get her in actions.

Q. Going back to your opening statement, last couple years the Sun have been knocked out the first couple rounds of the Playoffs. Getting these deep runs into the Playoffs, especially here at home, what has that meant for the team, again, getting to play these crucial games at Mohegan?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, that's three straight really successful regular seasons, but disappointed in those second-round exits. Finishing the seasons at home with losses, when you've been so good at home has been tough to swallow. But I credit our players. There was a lot of pressure from the campaign of "Burn It Down" to being really transparent and open dialogue since training camp that we wanted to take the next step. And the players handled that pressure, handled that honest talk out in the media, that this team, this was the year that was circled. This was the year that we wanted to take that next step.

So for them to get to this point to go to a Game 5 in the championship series after those disappointment second-round exits in this building, you saw a determined team that was not going to end their season in this building regardless of what everybody was saying.

Q. A two-part question: For the fourth quarter after it was tied, it seemed like -- not to mix metaphors, but a title fight with each team throwing punches with threes back and forth, and then it was the defense or just missed shots that sort of decided it in the last two minutes. What was it like on the sideline watching that feeling? Again, taking yourself out of it, it's been a heck of a series, and it comes down to a fifth game. How great is that for the WNBA having this come down to a Game 5 on Thursday?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, you know, when you sit there with your coach's hat on, there's times where this series is maddening that you can't get stops. But from a fan perspective, from a league perspective, the amount of shots in pressure situations, with how hard everybody is playing, has got to be amazing TV, and good for our league. Both teams in the fourth quarter were making big shots. We would make a three, they'd answer with a three. Ultimately we made a few more plays down the stretch, got to the foul line tonight more than they did. Alyssa Thomas was the best foul shooter in the game.

Sometimes crazy things happen in the Playoffs. But again, first quarter, while they took the lead and ultimately that first quarter really helped us -- has been a big story in all four games, but can't be happier for the league that this is a Game 5, and I think, at least from my perspective, while it's maddening at times to try to get stops against this team, it's really, really good basketball.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Shekinna's performance tonight. She obviously had the three-pointer that gave you guys the lead for good, but she made some key shots earlier in the game, too. What did you see from her just being able to get that shot off but also be able to drive in and be really active in your offense overall?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, I thought -- you name it, I thought she was really active. We put her on the move. She was very aggressive, hunting for her shots, and made that big three. They answered it, but she made a huge three for us. And her defense is so underrated. They can isolate her, and they isolated her the first play of the game, but she doesn't get the credit that she deserves as a help defender, as someone that absorbs when we switch and can guard bigger people. She's never going to get the credit that she deserves defensively, and we wouldn't be in this situation without her defense. And at times we've got to give her help.

But she was huge tonight. Her energy is so important to this crowd. The crowd just absolutely loves her, and her energy is so important to our team.

Q. Is it emotionally draining coaching this deep into a series? And now that it's at a winner-take-all scenario so deep into the series, is there less that a coaching staff can accomplish in the hours or day leading up to that final game? You kind of know so much about each other at this point, just roll the players out and see what happens?
CURT MILLER: I mean, I'm not going home and putting my feet up on the coffee table tonight. I can tell you that. The coaching staff will watch hours and hours of film before we take our next into film session tomorrow when we land. There's things to show. There's things where we have slippage. There's things where they attacked differently tonight than they have in some of the other games. Same with us. So there's still a lot of coaching and trying to show your players that.

But ultimately when the ball tips up on Thursday, it's going to be who stays true to themselves, who imposes their will on their style and their system, and who plays with more energy. But it is exhausting. You know, I can't wait to have a few days off.

But we're having the time of our life right now. Nothing better. You dream as a little kid being in a deciding final game, a Game 7, a Game 5 of a series to win a world championship. If you grew up a basketball fan, these are the moments that you dreamed of.

Q. Curt, tonight early in the game Alyssa seemed to be running the point more in transition than maybe in previous games. Am I imagining things, or was it a point of emphasis tonight? Because things really seemed to go a lot smoother offensively with her just driving down and kicking.
CURT MILLER: Yeah, it changes our spacing. It changes our attack. We like as she's initiating offense and some of the actions that it gets us in. You can't do that -- they're too talented. They're too well-coached to do anything for too long. But in stretches tonight with Alyssa starting the offense, we were really, really productive. Some of our most productive offense came with her running the offense.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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