August 12, 2021
Seattle Storm 79 - Connecticut Sun 57
CURT MILLER: Honored to be in this game. Certainly thought we had great preparation post-Olympic break to jump-start back into it.
We just had a really poor night. We got out-toughed, from the tip we got out-toughed with the first loose ball, the first 50/50 ball and it just continued from there. We got out-executed, out-played. Our turnovers were really disappointing. We got out of sync. Stewie made a lot of tough shots early. Again, a lot of attention for us game plan-wise were those big three and they still had 43 I think, 43 points and didn't play in the fourth quarter. So we just never could disrupt their big three.
Overall a disappointing night. I know our locker room is really disappointed that we didn't have a better game.
Q. What was Seattle doing defensively that maybe contributed to those turnovers that you mentioned or just made things look really stagnant on offense, especially in that third quarter where you guys only scored five points?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, I thought their activity was good. They weren't necessarily pressuring the ball but they were playing in between us trying to enter the ball into the post. Got a ton of deflections. They gave us different looks when we did get post catches, and we struggled to get it out and they scrambled really well out of double teams and some of their activity just really bothered us.
Just never found a rhythm offensively. Obviously got away from us in the third quarter, and you have to start thinking about Dallas and you have to start thinking about our regular season and how important it is. Again, we play seven games in 17 days in August. So we needed to give our second unit a lot of time as the game got away from us.
Q. You said they might be in better position because they were game-shape ready and you guys had 17 days off or whatever the number is. Do you think that made a difference in that Sue, Jewell and Stewie looked like they had been playing for the last month and didn't miss a beat?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, I thought they had their legs. Stewie made really tough shots there early. They looked like three players that were averaging about 30 minutes in the Olympics and we looked like it was our first game in nearly five weeks.
I worried a little bit about that and we just couldn't disrupt them. Again some of it, all credit to Seattle, their activity was great, but man, we just never found an offensive rhythm to give us a chance. It's uncanny, a stat sheet with that many turnovers, with that many turnovers, 26 turnovers, we still took five more shots than they did. If we had 13 turnovers, which is around our goal, could we have taken 18 more shots than them in this game? I don't know. Maybe. But again, they were really sharp and they played really well.
Q. With Stewart in particular, she was guarding Jones in that 3-2 zone. Jonquel was never able to get in a rhythm. What were you seeing particularly with Stewart and how she was defending Jones that gave her such a difficult evening?
CURT MILLER: I thought she played with activity, with physicality, and again, she stayed in plays. We couldn't get JJ in actions where we got her in space, either with screening -- screening and rolling and getting her in space. Stewie did a really good job staying in play, making JJ have to make a lot of one-on-one plays. If JJ doesn't go and get offensive put-backs, I don't know if she scored in our offense after one of the first possessions of the game. Our second offensive possession of the game, she scored within the offensive set. After that, most of her baskets were all put-backs.
Q. With what those three did, particularly when it comes to Stewart, the level that she's playing at, can you just talk about what she's doing right now in her overall play?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, it's remarkable, right. She steps up to big moments and is big in big games. This first annual Cup-type game is where she shines. The difference with her is this league is filled with tons of talented players that make open shots. What separates the elite players in this league is they make contested shots.
And when she's making jumpshots with Jonquel Jones and her 6-6, 6-7 wingspan in place with her and not giving her much space and she can just continue to make shots, she's an elite player. To me, that's the difference between all these great players in this league. Every one of them can make open shots.
But the elite, the elite, consistently make contested hard shots and Stewie is one of the best at that.
Q. The third quarter (indiscernible).
CURT MILLER: Yeah, the frustrating thing for us was we weren't going to leave her tonight. We were going to sacrifice at times maybe some actions that could hurt you, but we just weren't going to leave her. So when she's having that kind of a night and you know that you're not leaving her, it's deflating.
Again, at one point, I think she missed a foul shot. Was part of her three foul shots in the first quarter. She was about ready to have as many points as we did as a team in the first quarter. That takes a lot of wind out of your sails when going into the game. You have such an emphasis on making her make tough plays, and then she's able to have that kind of first quarter. She didn't score in the second quarter. She didn't need to, but she did her damage in the first quarter.
Q. It looked like the Storm were changing up their defensive principles, at least a little bit from how they were rotating on defense and how they were shadowing Jonquel with Stewie. Did the game plan focus on how they normally played and as the game went on, did you notice the adjustment and try to change with it?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, again, their activity bothered us. It wasn't a scheming thing. They stayed in plays. Their activity, they congested us and still got out and made our three-point shooting difficult. But they got so many deflections and so while, you know, we tried to attack it different ways, obviously we were unsuccessful at finding a rhythm.
Q. Even though the result wasn't what you wanted, at least you were able to get some contribution from the bench in tonight's game in the fourth quarter. How important will that be going into the next game against Dallas to have Kaila Charles and DiJonai Carrington contribute the way they did?
CURT MILLER: Yeah, that's the unintended consequence in a game like that. The second unit got some good minutes together. They got into a rhythm in stretches in the fourth quarter. It will give them confidence. Obviously we know we extend minutes of our starters with that veteran championship group, but in a game like that where it was out of hand early, that's an unintended consequence and a positive is we got significant minutes for our bench in a meaningful game. That should bode well. It should give them some confidence that she should be in there and compete.
Q. Can we expect you at the Commissioner's Cup next year?
CURT MILLER: I can't even think ahead to Dallas in three days, so thinking ahead to Commissioner's Cup next year, we'll tackle that when we get our schedule for next season. But honored to be in the first one and obviously we have had consistent success in the last five years and we'll try to keep putting ourselves in position to do that.
Q. Obviously having the Olympic break and Seattle had three players on the Olympic team, so certainly in great shape, but talk about what Jonquel brings to the table as far as maybe having that possibility of being the MVP after missing last season?
CURT MILLER: She's had a tremendous season, and I know that she missed some games when she went to represent Bosnia in the FIBA event but absolutely been the centerpiece for us. Again, her maturation, her growth, is this year playing alongside of a true five in Brionna Jones, so really you're getting to see the versatility in her game where she's playing offensively at the four, she's guarding four players and she's thriving at it.
One of the elite rebounders in the world, the versatility offensively to play inside and out. You're seeing more of her facilitating opportunities now. You just see that she's one of the rare few in this league that can put themselves in position to be the MVP.
Again, we are going to need her to play like an MVP to chase some of the goals that we have. She impacts the game at both ends of the floor. Her versatility, she's kind of a unicorn. You don't see a lot of people 6-6, 6-7, that are able to play the game like she can, and she's a pleasure to coach. She's a great teammate. She's low maintenance, and again, you know, is just an unbelievable human. That, too, also makes her special.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports