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September 5, 2007

Bill Laimbeer


KAREN KASE: We'll take questions for coach. Start with an opening statement.
BILL LAIMBEER opening statement. All right. Well, obviously it's a good win for us. Man down, Cheryl Ford today, our players top to bottom 1 through 11 picked it up. Great contributions from our bench. Magnificent contributions from our bench and players who have played roles all year long stepped forward today. We all know what Plenette Pierson does all the time. Kara Braxton had a monster game, used her size well, was very patient. Elaine Powell played very well out there. Leading the floor. We did what we wanted to do with the outset of the game. That was to go inside as often as possible to test the inside of their zone defense. And we were successful at it.
They ran like they were said they were going to and we got out there and for the most part ran with them. We got back in transition, they got some easy baskets, okay, that's going to happen with a team like that. But overall I thought we got back well, we fanned out and defended the perimeter well, fourth quarter got a bit hairy, they kept driving and getting some foul calls and going to the free throw line. Those minutes that was the highest scoring quarter you're going to see in this league ever. But overall, bottom line, I told our troops, we haven't done anything yet. We have done what we were supposed to do is win our home games. And that's how we played the whole year, regular season, to play at home. And we got out and took care of business.

Q. When did you know that Cheryl would not be able to play?
BILL LAIMBEER: Knowing for sure and knowing are two different things. I pretty much knew when I came yesterday morning that we had a problem. And I mentioned that this was the worst that she had been. This morning we came to practice and it was clear that we had a big problem. That it was probably not going to happen, you still hold out hope. But at the end of the day, you know, if you take away the last four games, when we rested all of our players, we played very well without Cheryl. We won a lot of close games, just like this one, we gutted it out. We probably, I think 8-1 in one stretch there before in the last four games and I think that the players know how to play if she's not out there.

Q. You said that you guys won a lot of games without Cheryl, but what is it about Kara, she always just seems to really step it up especially in Cheryl's absence?
BILL LAIMBEER: Well I think Kara, it can run hot and cold. When she's on, she's very good. When she's not focused, she's not very good.
Tonight she started off poorly, no question about that, and we lectured her about it. And once she got going, the momentum just kept building for her and I'm very happy for her. But as I will tell her, it's only one game. We want it every game. And that's what we expect. And if she stays focused, she will do okay. And that's what we're hoping for.

Q. Do you think there's extra incentive for Plenette to play well against Phoenix and is tonight's performance just proof what a great heist it was to get her from Phoenix?
BILL LAIMBEER: You said that, I didn't. Answer to the first part of the question, I think Plenette is over the fact that she's no longer in Phoenix. I don't think that plays any role in it. I know Plenette is very focused today to win a championship again.
She is a solid player for us, she knows that this is a big stage, that she can perform on, she has all the confidence in the world that she happens to be on our team is a great bonus.

Q. You mentioned in terms of the bench performances, does the fact that Kara and Katie and your bigs were able to do what they did today make you feel okay if you can't go with Cheryl in Game 2 and do you know what the status is?
BILL LAIMBEER: The status going into the game was she was not going to play and that we were shooting for her to play on Saturday. Now whether that is still the case, that's what we're going to find out come Saturday morning. We won't know with Cheryl Ford until we get there on game day and even then early on the day and probably won't know sometimes. She will not practice it's, will not even get out there and run anything until the ball gets tipped up, if she's on the floor. If she's able to play, she will start. But that's -- and that's okay. We're comfortable with that because we have solid players, and if she plays, super. If she doesn't, then she's going to be a tremendous cheerleader for us.

Q. You went with Katie and Kara together for awhile in the second quarter and had some success, is that something that you think you'll do more as the series goes on take advantage of the size?
BILL LAIMBEER: Well, I had to get Plenette some rest. She played yeoman's minutes and had two fouls and Plenette is such a hard worker that I didn't need a third foul on her. When Katie and Kara in the game, unless they're playing both of their bigs, we're going to have to commit to a zone defense which I thought in the first half was very successful for us. Second half wasn't so hot.
But in the first half it worked well for us, got us back in the game and got us a lead. And with those two big towers in there against their zone, they have a difficult time trying to stop us on the inside because we're just so big. So it's an option for us that we can look at.

Q. Penny Taylor seemed to give you some minutes defensively, were you trying to get your players to switch off on her because I saw you talking to them?
BILL LAIMBEER: Really didn't do a whole lot of anything on her. There in the second half. Whether we wanted to switch or a hedge or keep her in front, we didn't do anything. She took the ball, put her head down and drove to the basket. No matter what we did, we cut her off, but she just powered over and got the calls going to the foul line which helped them out a lot. How we will guard her in the next game is what we'll keep close to the vest.

Q. What did you want to do, switch off?
BILL LAIMBEER: We would have liked to have seen a couple switches there, unfortunately the way they run their offense you get a little bit of a caught up in and in guarding your own player because they're a perimeter team and they go so fast on their weave that sometimes you're out of position.

Q. Talk about the job that you guys did on Pondexter and Diane Taurasi?
BILL LAIMBEER: Well doing a job on them is probably a bad statement. I think that in the first half Cappie Pondexter did not shoot well. Diane Taurasi was in foul trouble. And then you get in foul trouble early in the game it really throws your whole game for a loop. It's so hard to get it back when you have to sit and you're not into the flow of the game. So it, in the second half I thought that Diana Taurasi came out nailing shots and Cappie Pondexter was looking for her shot and connecting and that really gave them a big juicy lift. Fortunately, as the half wore along, we played a little bit more solid defense and I told our players, I hate to say this because we gave up a hundo, but that was a pretty good defensive effort on our part. And that's kind of weird to say in this league. But I thought our defense was well, we did well.
KAREN KASE: Thanks a lot, coach.

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