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October 3, 2008

Bill Laimbeer


COACH BILL LAIMBEER: I think this was a gutty performance by our team. You know, we came into this into the game with saying that, same old, same old as we did before in Game 1, play our solid defense.
We expected them to do a couple things. One of them they did; one of them they didn't. And overall we also talked about getting out quick. Whether we had a lead like we ended up with which was surprising to me, we wanted to make sure we weren't down. We didn't want to be on the short end of that one. We knew that if we could get off to a good start we could neutralize any emotion, any crowd interaction, and then just play a basketball game from there on out. And that's what happened today.
Unfortunately for us, you know, we got up okay. And they're going to make runs, they're going make shots. We're going to miss shots. But when they started that make that run the second quarter, it's too early in the game to get overly excited about the second quarter, so we just kept our composure and kept on playing.
Then when we were unable to take command of the game in the second half, it was our turn. And we knew at some point in the second half we'd get our turn and we did. And we took it. That's how this works.
I'm very proud of our team. I mean, I'm proud of Kara Braxton. I mean, Kara Braxton gets beat on by me especially. I beat the crap out of her all the time and the media saying how she's inconsistent. But late in the game, she stood up, and her teammates appreciate that. I appreciate that.
Also, unfortunately, I told them unfortunately in the locker room, but I expect so much from Katie Smith. And this is two games in a row where I actually had to compliment her on over and above the call of duty. She played phenomenal.
She wanted the basketball -- once again in two games in a row, her will to win the game is what carried us. And no question about it, I thought Deanna Nolan played a smart game today. Once again, she realizes that their focal point is on her, and she didn't the force anything. I'd like to see her shoot more but she played a solid game.
Overall, we'll take it. We've been here before. We lost last year and we don't like it. And we know we have unfinished business.

Q. You talk about Taj's performance defensively on Sophia, because she was 5-of-18 I think?
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: Well, we knew what we were getting in Taj; she was a great defender -- I don't know about great. But I would say smart defender. When I was playing, we used to say, do your homework early on defense. She does her homework early. She denies. She gets out there and pushes players into spots they don't want to be, never misses a defensive assignment; if her job is to trap or her job is to rotate, she's always there. And that's one of the reasons why we got her because we have great defenders in our guards and she fits right in.
It wasn't a great offensive day for her, but I don't think she really cares. I think she just cares about winning a basketball game.

Q. Besides the numbers, can you just talk about the timing of Katie's shot? Seemed every time San Antonio had a chance to get going the crowd getting into it she just silenced them?
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: That's why I talked about the will to win. Her will is pushing us right now. She is so focused on every aspect of the basketball game. Whether it's defense, and when she has to switch over to Hammon or whether it's guarding the post, or on offense, running the show at the one or playing two or the three and looking to be a scorer. This was a game where she took over mentally and physically in the later parts of the game.
And when we were struggling in the third quarter, she took it upon herself to drive to the basket hard. And man that's two games in a row. I played her 40 minutes every game damn near this whole series, and she'd go out there and play another 40. That's what she does. That's what she wants to do right now.
And we were laughing coming down the hallway, we saw her on the TV after her interview, she is walking down the hallway you can see the cuts in her arms, what great shape she is in, and she's just walking like she knows exactly what she's doing right now.

Q. I guess you guys had a sub-.500 road record in the regular season. They were 14-0 against the east or something. What's the difference between the playoffs and regular season?
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: Focus. The difference between our regular season road record and their record against the east and now we've won two games, it's a matter of focus.
You can say we're a different basketball team, yeah, we are, but we're not that much different. When we lock in -- I mean, regular season, I said the other day, regular season is not boring to us. But we don't the turn it up for every game like we could, because you just can't get that frame of mind that you do in the playoffs, especially in the Finals.
And when we turn it up -- we talked about -- we looked at the playoffs before the season started and we looked at the teams out there. We said, which team can turn it up and which team can't? And because we know that we can. We have another level that we can take it to in the playoffs. And we're showing that, I believe, this year.

Q. What's the approach from here? Going back home with a 2-0 lead.
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: Near the same thing I said after Game 1. You will hear the players say the same thing. We play a one-game series. We're looking at, especially after last year, last year was so brutally frustrating and discouraging how we lost that series. We play a one-game series. That's all that matters. We live and die that one game, because anything can happen in the next game.
We don't want a next game. We want to play as few games as possible. We want to win every game we play. That's our mindset.

Q. What do you expect to see crowd-wise at Eastern on Sunday?
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: I expect a full house. I expect an atmosphere second to none. The Palace is a great atmosphere. You put a lot of people in there. This is a bit different. This building actually is louder than the Palace, and they're on top of you. They're like right here.
And we'll have a bunch of people in there -- we'll have some people that have never been to a WNBA basketball game before, I bet, which is great. And they're going be rooting for the Detroit Shock. And it's going to be loud.
Certain arenas way back when I played in Portland in the Finals, the people were all right there on the court. And it was such an atmosphere. Kind of like a college atmosphere. They were all right on top of you, and it just created an environment that's fun to play in. That's what I expect.

Q. Bill, when you brought Katie in 2005, you obviously knew she was exactly the type of player you wanted on your team then. But did you envision she would still be this good?
COACH BILL LAIMBEER: No. Honestly, no.
When she got here, she had come off a knee surgery. She was in Minnesota. She was -- got to be a good 20, 25 pounds heavier than she is now. And that's because she couldn't work out before the season started. That's at least what she told me at the end of the year.
At the end of the year, we had an exit interview and I said, "Katie, I need to you come back 15 to 20 pounds lighter. I need you to be the leader with the ball." At that point she was our lead guard. "This is what I expect of you and this is what I need for you." You don't have to tell the her twice.
You can't emphasize that, because once you tell her, once she understands it and then you tell her a second time and she gets mad. She gets feisty. But I told her what I needed, and she now prides herself on her body. She is second to none, I said this last game, she is second to none in her physique, her stamina and her desire. There is nobody else in this league that can beat her.
Thank you all very much.

End of FastScripts

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