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October 21, 2012

Tamika Catchings

Briann January


Indiana – 85
Minnesota – 78

TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  First off, I want to thank God for this opportunity.  This journey has been full of ups and downs, full of trials and tribulations, full of tears and happy faces.  But today we stand with happy faces, and I like that.
But this game tonight, we came out with a lot of adrenaline, and I felt like the momentum carried over from Friday night's game.  We came out knowing from a defensive standpoint we needed to jump on them straight from the beginning, offensively just sharing the ball.  I felt like across the board everybody contributed to this game.  Katie being able to get in the last couple seconds of the game, I mean, it seriously‑‑ this year has ended on such a surreal note.  Surreal.

Q.  Tamika, first of all, can you talk about what this means to you, and secondly, Coach Summitt was in the stands watching this game.  Has she had a chance to say anything to you, and if so can you share that?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  Haven't seen Pat yet.  I'm looking forward to it.  But this game and what it means, winning this championship, when you come into this league, your goal and your dream is to win a WNBA championship.  12 years later from when the dream first started, here we are, and it's been a journey, but it's so sweet right now.

Q.  Tamika, this season you guys‑‑ obviously you didn't finish with the best record in the East.  Maybe there were some ups and downs.  Did you have a feeling at any point that this was or wasn't going to be a season where you thought you guys might be able to challenge, and then Katie goes down and you guys get behind in every series?  It wasn't quite a dominant best‑record‑in‑the‑league kind of an effort for you guys to finish here.  What were you thinking as the season was going on?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  I think there's highs and lows throughout the whole season and just different thoughts.  But I can honestly say when I came back from the Olympic break and we got back together as a team, you could visibly see players got better during that break.  I mean, in the first half we didn't, we struggled a lot.  But that second half you could see the intensity, you could see the fire in everybody and just what we could accomplish as a team, and in hindsight now looking back, with Bri out and Zellous out and Katie out and in the regular season, players had to step up, and they did.  They did a great job.
Now we get back to the Playoffs, we get all our players back, and they're not needed as much early on.  Then Katie goes down, now somebody else has to step up, and Zellous gets back into the starting lineup, and we keep it going.  Then J.P. goes down, somebody else has to step up.  I just felt like toward the end, from my mindset, knowing that players had an opportunity to step up toward the end of the regular season, they were ready for the Playoffs, and so when their number got called, they were ready, and you could tell.
Karima Christmas comes in tonight, she knocked down some huge big shots for us.  For her to come in and have the confidence to do that, she knows that we all have her back.  That's great.  That's team ball right there.

Q.  Can you talk about Briann's defense over Augustus?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  Man, Lin made the switch‑up after Game 2 when we lost up there, we're going to put Bri on Seimone, and I know everybody was like, okay, Bri is a little bit shorter than Seimone, but first‑team all‑WNBA defensive team right here, we've got confidence in her, and she came and really I think just set the tone straight from the beginning.  They could not get her the ball.  All her touches were hard.  All the baskets that she made, she used up her energy probably in the first quarter and really like the rest of the time it was like dribbling the ball off her knee, off her foot.  I thought Bri set the tone early on and made it hard for her.

Q.  Bri, can you talk about that?  And then I have a quick follow‑up:  You guys put them in a hole by winning Game 1, by getting ahead in games.  How hard do you think you made it for them playing from behind in pretty much every way?
BRIANN JANUARY:  You know, we took that momentum from Connecticut because that was like the ultimate team gut‑check pull‑out victory for us.  People stepped up, Katie went out.  We had everybody just really engaged, really focused in on what we needed to do, and we carried that over to Minnesota.  We were really focused going in there.  We knew we were going into a hostile tough environment and we needed to be focused and bring that energy, and to start the series like that, I think we really set the tone.  We set the tone and let them know it wasn't going to be easy, it wasn't going to be a cake walk.
We continued.  We said it day after day; we had to be in attack mode; we had to keep pressuring them; we had to make them uncomfortable; and we had to focus on our game.  If we did what we needed to do, rebound, attack, play our kind of defense, we were going to make it tough for them, and that allowed us to get ahead in the games and come back home and give us an opportunity to win it in front of our crowd who was amazing tonight, and they just fueled us up even more, so everybody was on 10, on 100, just giving everything they had, and it was just such an amazing game, such an amazing season, such an amazing series, and I couldn't ask for more.

Q.  Have you seen the box scores?
BRIANN JANUARY:  No, I didn't look at it.

Q.  For Bri and Catch, you guys have both had significant injuries that would cut your season short.  I'm wondering during the rehab and all the time it takes to get back on the court, is this the vision that kept you going to get you back on track?
BRIANN JANUARY:  For sure.  Last season I felt like we had what it took to get it to the championship, and I was sidelined.  Tamika was in my ear the entire time keeping me positive, letting me know that this was the time I needed to work so I could make the team better when I got back.  That was my goal was coming back this year and just doing whatever I could to take us up another notch.  I know we made it to the Playoffs but we wanted to take another step this year and I think we really did.  I think, man, every day I was working was for this moment last year, just every day of rehab was for this moment.
I just thank my teammates because they were there for me every day; Tamika especially, she was just there being positive and telling me just to keep working, and we did it.  We did it.

Q.  We've talked about Shavonte and Katie and you guys.  Could you say a little bit about what Erin and Erlana, what they meant?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  Man, Larkins is off the chains.
BRIANN JANUARY:  Off the chains.
TAMIKA CATCHINGS:  No other way to put it.  Just her relentlessness on the boards, first half of the season, if you look at the first half of the season and compare it to the second half of the season, it's night and day.  It's night and day.  She came out that second half and had just been a board beast.  That's what I'm going to call it, a board beast.
We knew coming into the Playoffs, rebounding has been our biggest setback as a team.  E took it upon herself, literally, to be down there getting the board every moment, every single play like she never takes a play off.  That's what we needed to win.
EP, same thing.  Erin, you're a scorer; when you touch the ball, shoot the ball.  You're a three‑point threat, so you don't need to put the ball down, you just need to shoot.  But I think Erin's game went to a whole 'nother level during the Playoffs, knocking down wide open threes, being able to get to the basket.  Even from a defensive standpoint, when we put her on Whalen, I thought she wore Whalen down, too.  She got off a little bit tonight.  But the last couple games I felt leak EP did a really good job on Whalen, too.  I thought from a defensive standpoint, both of them did a really good job.  But I think E on the boards, especially offensive boards, Erlana, just all over.  They couldn't stop her.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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