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WNBA FINALS: MYSTICS VS SUN


October 8, 2019


Mike Thibault


Uncasville, Connecticut

Connecticut - 90, Washington - 86

Q: You made such a run in that game after a rough first half, what was the difference down the stretch for you guys, when you just couldnít hit shots in the last two minutes?

MIKE THIBAULT: Well, Iím struggling to understand how Connecticut played with one foul in the fourth quarter. The stats are telling me that Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman shot three free throws between them and Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones shot 16 free throws, so I think thatís the difference in the game. Free throw attempts are 26 to 13, so I felt if we could have gone to the line a couple more times, we could have slowed their momentum down a little bit. But we missed some shots driving to the basket, too. We missed some lay-ups. We kind of got in each other's way a little bit.

But it's been hard in this series. Whoever digs themselves a hole, every team has come back in this series, both teams have come back. But it's hard when you're looking at the deficit we were looking at. I think it was 18 at one point, and the fact that we were ahead says a lot of good things, but then our execution once we got the lead was not great.

Q. Mike, when you see what you got out of Aerial Powers tonight, how much of that is just her ability to take over a game in spurts like that, and how much was you deciding that she was the right match-up to be able to take more of a leadership role offensively in that moment?
MIKE THIBAULT: I'll be honest with you, I didn't put her in any leadership role on offense. She got hers because they were taking away other people, and she was aggressive. We didn't run any plays for her in particular. We let her be the off-ball person, and when they helped, let them come to her and swing and let her attack from that standpoint. It's amazing how if you bring energy, the ball finds you.

I wish we had played as a group with the energy that she brought. I feel bad. I mean, I feel bad, her and Tianna Hawkins played well, but it's hard to keep everybody on the floor. You've got Elena [Delle Donne] and Emma [Meesseman] and everybody else.

But Aerial gave us an energy lift as much as anything.

Q. Mike, you guys have the MVP of the league, but it seems that tonight was a great team effort. What can you say about the depth of your team, especially throughout the course of these Finals?
MIKE THIBAULT: Well, I mean, we had the highest scoring bench in the league for the season, so we're used to that, and the bench got a whole lot better when Emma came back from overseas. You know, I just -- you don't -- it's the good and the bad of it. It's a nice thing as a coach to have a bench that can bail you out and do things, but it's tough that if you have to rely on that, as we've had a couple times in this series.

I like the fact that I can play nine people every night and get good results. It's hard for me right now when I'm talking to you to get over how we started the game. So I'm glad our bench gave us the energy that we needed, but it's such a disappointing finish.

Q. Speaking about the start, what do you attribute the slow start to?
MIKE THIBAULT: Well, let's start with the opening tip when we were lined up wrong and Alyssa Thomas laid it in on the opening tip. That would be a bad start.

And then letting them have four offensive rebounds in the first quarter. They got to the free-throw line. We had a couple turnovers. We had some empty possessions. I felt we did about everything we could do wrong in the first quarter. I thought our team is known for passing and cutting and screening. It's not known for having 15 dribbles per possession. I thought that's what we did in the first quarter.

Q. Can you point to anything -- you said the execution wasn't as great once you got the lead. Can you point to a reason --
MIKE THIBAULT: I'd have to go back and look at it. Some of it is -- there were two possessions where we literally almost ran into each other. I know we picked ourselves up off the floor four or five times throughout the game. Literally slipped on the floor and fell down and had to hustle just to get a shot off. Execution doesn't look too good when the ball handler is laying on the floor. It would be nice if we'd stay on our feet.

Q. We talked before the game that Elena, you weren't sure played a little more in spurts than last game, but she played most of the first quarter. I think she played 30-plus minutes tonight. Was that her feeling better or just the flow of the game?
MIKE THIBAULT: I think she felt better. She'll tell you when you ask her. But I thought she felt better and looked better, we just didn't do a very good job of getting her enough field goal attempts. Part of that is she's been -- with the injury, it's been harder for her to post-up on the block. We'll see how she feels come Thursday.

But that would be something we would need to do a little bit better is get an inside versus outside game. They had 26 points in the paint in the first half and we had in the teens. You know, we've got to get her some touches in different spots on the floor.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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