Friday, August 18th, 2017

2017 WNBA All-Star Weekend: Quotes and video from Friday, July 21, 2017

Published on July 21, 2017

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Videos || Quotes

WNBA All-Star 2017, Media Availability, Friday, July 21

East || West

EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS
Curt Miller, East All-Star Coach

How has your experience been in Seattle?
“Being able to get in front of the East All-Stars is just an incredible experience for our young staff. Eight players out of the 11 are first-time All-Stars. There’s a lot of excitement in the East. We’re just trying to soak it all in.”

What is the most exciting part?
“Seeing the true, genuine excitement from the hard work that these young players have put in. They’ve reached a major milestone in becoming a WNBA All-Star. Eight of them. First-timers. As you can imagine, there’s nervousness. There’s excitement and a lot of reflection right now and looking back on how they got to this point. It’s really cool to be around not only these tremendous players, but the first-time All-Stars and their excitement about it.”

What are your expectations for tomorrow’s game?
“I expect that we want to get out of it injury-free, first and foremost. I want them to soak it all in. Now when the ball goes up, these guys are competitive. They’re going to want to win. You’re going to see a hungry group in the East. As fun of a game as it is, when the ball goes up, they’re going to get competitive and you’re going to want to see these first-time WNBA All-Stars play hard. I’m excited to watch the game.”

On Alyssa Thomas being selected to start:
“I’m truly excited for her. We felt like we could go with Allie Quigley, Layshia Clarendon and play a three-guard lineup with either one of those or Alyssa Thomas to replace the size and length of Elena Delle Donne to start against Maya Moore. I was really torn on the decision. It was recommended to me to just put the three names in a hat, pull a name out and go with that. I thought that was unique and it was fair. (Laughing) Sure enough, I pulled out our own player Alyssa Thomas. I’m excited for her. It truly was a random choice. As much as I believe in her and work with her, it was a random choice. We think it was a good choice because she will match up well with Maya Moore early in the game.”

Jonquel Jones, East All-Star

How does it feel to be a starter, voted by the fans, media and fellow players?
“It feels great. I’m happy to be here. This is the best the league has to offer. Any time you’re considered in that group it always feels good. I’m just happy to be here. I’m going to make the most out of it and enjoy it.”

How do you like Seattle so far?
“So beautiful. This city is definitely one of the best places that I’ve been. It has everything – water and trees mixed with the city life. It has everything. I’m enjoying Seattle a lot.”

How comfortable is it knowing you’re here with teammates Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas and coach Curt Miller?
“Yeah. For me, it’s my first time, so any time I feel nervous I look at them and see them here with me. It helps me out a lot because I’ve never really been in an environment like this where you have players that you’re going against every night and now you’re all in the same vicinity and going against each other. But we’re talking to each other a lot more so having them there with me means a lot.”

How did you bounce back after a 1-5 start?
“I think our team just plays basketball that translates well on the court. We play unselfishly. We move the basketball around, and I think when we play like that it’s hard to beat us.”

What’s your mindset going into each game when it comes to rebounding?
“That’s my job and that’s something I do well. I think it helps out our team out a lot. It puts us in a position to win basketball games. I just know opponents now are trying really hard to stop me at it so I know I’ve got to be better at it. But I’m also just trying to be proactive on the boards.”

Stefanie Dolson, East All-Star

How does it feel to be the so-called veteran of the East since there are so many first-time All-Stars?
“It feels great. The league has so much talent right now, and I’m glad that I can experience this All-Star weekend with a bunch of players who worked so hard to get here.”

What’s your mindset heading into the All-Star break?
“Confidence. I think our whole team feels that way. We’re just rolling right now. We have a lot of momentum. Individually, we’re all playing well. Everyone’s stepping up at different times. We just want to have fun during this weekend so we can carry it over to our next game.”

What do you like about All-Star weekend?
“It’s just fun for me. In college, I never thought I would be in the pros so to be here and be selected to an All-Star team is an amazing opportunity. The first time I was super surprised. I was still surprised this time. It’s just a fun weekend.”

Allie Quigley, East All-Star

On having a career year:
“I have stayed ready for everything. I’ve stayed ready to shoot and be aggressive. I’m not letting one miss bother me. I’m staying in the moment and being ready.”

On being one of the hottest teams in the league after a slow start. Did it just take time to develop chemistry?
“I think so. And I missed the first three games. Courtney Vandersloot missed the first three and then she left for Hungary. I think she’s a big part of our success right now. She changes how we play as a point guard. Finally getting her here has helped a lot.”

On Stefanie Dolson and what she brings to the Chicago Sky:
“She’s brought so much. Not just on the court but off the court like her energy. She’s so positive. She’s a great teammate. On the court, she can shoot so well, she’s efficient, she’s smart, she makes good decisions. She’s helped us tremendously.”

On if it is about winning or having fun this weekend:
“I think we want to win but we want to enjoy it, too. I don’t think people are thinking too far ahead instead we’re just focusing on the moment and enjoying it.”

Layshia Clarendon, East All-Star

On playing her best basketball with Atlanta:
“I think it was opportunity because I was playing behind Briann January in Indiana. She’s a seasoned veteran. When I got to Atlanta I got to jump right into the starting role and I had been prepared for that because I haven’t played overseas the past three years. I’ve taken the time to work out and get better. Personally, I feel like I was on that track to becoming a starting point guard no matter where I ended up, and I just continued to grow.”

On if it is about winning or having fun this weekend:
“I think it’s winning. No one is having fun when they’re losing. Everyone wants to win and have fun. It’s going to be interesting because eight of us are new so I don’t think we have to follow the lead of a the veterans of playing it cool during the first half. Jasmine Thomas is our starting point guard so she will definitely help set the tone and we’ll go from there. I think a lot of us want to win our first All-Star Game.”

Tiffany Hayes, East All-Star

So not only are you a first-time All-Star, you’re a starter. How does that feel?
“It feels great. Just to know that the fans had a hand in voting, along with the media and my peers, it just shows the respect I’m getting from people who see your hard work. I’m definitely appreciative.”

You were the first across the board in the category with the East guards, and you have really stepped up this season. What’s your mind set in each game? You’ve been super successful in everything you’ve done. How do you approach each game?
“I don’t put any thought into it. I just have my mind ready to go as hard as I can, to give everything I got to my teammates and for my coaches. That’s pretty much it. Scoring just comes with it. My teammates find me open and I just knock it down. That’s all of us working together, and that’s pretty much my mind set.”

Speaking of teammates, Layshia Clarendon and Elizabeth Williams are here. Does that help your comfort level or would you have been happy either way?
“They definitely help me. They are the faces I see almost every day, so them being here definitely calms me down a little bit because this is my first time, so of course I’ll be a little nervous. Having them with me definitely helps.”

Sugar Rodgers, East All-Star

How has your experience been in Seattle?
“It’s been great. I got in last night and met up with Tina [Charles] and had dinner. I’m just really trying to grasp everything and soak it all in.”

How does it feel to have your first All-Star selection?
“I’m just kind of blessed to be here. I’m just thankful for the opportunity. It’s been a long time coming for me. So, why not?”

What would your all-time All-Star team be?
“I don’t know. There’s a lot of players. Everybody here is an all-star, but it doesn’t mean the ones that aren’t here are not all-stars. They just haven’t had the chance to show it or they just didn’t get picked. It doesn’t mean they’re not a star.”

Who are you most excited to play with?
“Tina.”

Elizabeth Williams, East All-Star

How special it to have two of your teammates be WNBA All-Stars with you
“It’s really special. They work super hard. It’s cool that the coaches and fans believed in us. We’re all here to have fun.”

How has your experience been in Seattle?
“It’s been good. All I’ve done is the Jr. WNBA Clinic so I haven’t been out and about too much. We’ll be out and about a little bit more today. They’re taking care of us. They’re treating us really cool.”

Who do you have winning the three-point contest?
“I think Sugar can get really hot. So, if she starts on fire, she could be the winner. I think a lot of people have Maya [Moore]. So, I think it’ll be Sugar or [Allie Quigley].”

Candice Dupree, East All-Star

On being an All-Star:
“It’s a fun experience. I think it’s even more fun because my team is so young. A lot of first-time All-Stars so they bring a lot of energy. They’re excited. They’re trying to anticipate and figure out how the game is going to go.”

What are your expectations for tomorrow’s game?
“Everybody stays healthy. I hope we put on a good show for the fans. I’m sure it’ll probably be a high-scoring game. I can’t imagine that too much defense will be played, but if the game is tight, people will buckle down. Hopefully, it’s just fun for the crowd.

Who do you have winning the three-point contest?
“I’m going to go with Maya. My money is on her.”

Jasmine Thomas, East All-Star

On being an All-Star:
“It’s been fun. A lot of us are friends and know each other from different parts of our careers. It’s been cool just being part of the experience.”

On the differences with the two rosters:
“I think they’re both extremely talented. We’re younger on the East. We have a lot of first-timers, but that’s what makes it fun. Every part of the experience is new to us. We really enjoy it.”

On preparing for the three-point contest:
“I’m going to try. We have a practice here in a little bit. It’ll be my first time taking the ball off the back, but it’ll be fun. I’m picking the location for my money ball. I don’t really know where, but hopefully, it’s in my sweet spot.”

Tina Charles, East All-Star

How would you describe these two rosters for this game?
“We have a lot of first-timers on the East. You have a lot of experienced players on the West. I think with the combination of these players being excited and wanting to show they belong in this league and same playing field, it’s going to be an interesting game tomorrow.”

How has your experience been in Seattle so far?
“It has been a lot of fun. My main thing is the camaraderie. That’s what I really love about being around an All-Star game. You’re able to be in the locker room with different faces that you’re not familiar with personally. You get to gain relationships and grow relationships that you already had. So, it’s pretty neat.”

Is there one player that you’re particularly excited to play with?
“I’m excited to play with Jonquel Jones. I think she’s a fantastic player. With everything she’s been able to do for the Connecticut Sun organization and her being in her second year and finding her niche in this league, you don’t really see that happen that fast. She’s dominant in what she does. She has a lot of confidence and that’s all you can ask for. It’s going to inspire a lot of young players when they get into the league and are thinking when they are going to turn the corner. They can look to someone like Jonquel Jones.”

WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STARS

Cheryl Reeve, West All-Star Coach

How exciting is it to be a part of the very first All-Star Game in Seattle?
“It’s exciting for the franchise to be awarded the game. We know that their fans will turnout and it will be an unbelievable environment. I think Seattle as a franchise has earned this opportunity and we know they will put on a good show.”

What is the process like coaching an All-Star team? Will you implement a lot of your team’s plays?
“We joke that we have a collection of All-Stars from the same conference, so we will run any plays that’s not Minnesota Lynx plays. We will put in plays that are Phoenix plays, L.A. plays, Seattle, and we will call them the same thing that they call them.”

Is the contest competitive, fun or a little bit of both for you?
“It’s a little bit of both. I was telling Curt [Miller], it’s his first time coaching the All-Star Game, he says what do you do in practice and I said they want to have fun, they really don’t want to work that hard. Being together is fun and we get to put a couple things together just to keep things organized and after the first quarter they won’t run anything that we put in. They’ll just play, be competitive and be mindful of putting on a show. These are great players because they are highly competitive, so that will kick in.”

Is Maya Moore your favorite to win the three-point contest?
“Of course. I’m around Maya everyday and there’s a reason she’s able to be as good as she is. An actual contest is different but I think she will be intelligent about her money ball locations. One of the keys about a three-point shooting contest is when you’re hit a stretch where it doesn’t go so well, you have to have a mindset to stop the bleeding and be able to move on to the next shot, and Maya has that.”

Sue Bird, West All-Star

How much pride do you have showing off your city for All-Star?
“A ton, a ton. The franchise has done a really good job making sure this weekend was special for all of us and I kind of piggybacked that. Giving opinions where I can, going to throw a gathering tonight for the players to make sure they can enjoy Seattle and see what it’s all about. All week I tried to make myself available if anyone needed anything.”

Do you think there needs to be a change to the format of the game since there is no East and West in the playoffs?
“It’s a tricky question. I think instead of basing it on conferences take the top 22 players and then from there, I don’t know, pick out of a hat to see who plays with who. That actually would be kind of fun.”

What has the last 24 hours been like?
“Hectic, crazy but all-and-all fun and positive. I’ve had great feedback. It wasn’t something that was really a surprise to someone that was in my life, so from that regard I really don’t feel different.”

Maya Moore, West All-Star

How exciting is it to be a part of the very first All-Star Game in Seattle?
“It’s excited that the game is here, just because of the rich history that these fans have created here for the Seattle Storm. Players like Sue, who has been such an iconic face to our game, to be able to celebrate a player like her and an up-and-coming player like Breanna [Stewart]for the fans to get excited about is just a great home for All-Star 2017.”

Are you excited about competing in the three-point contest?
“Yea, it’s something new. Something the fans will appreciate as another competition to enjoy for the weekend, and another thing to celebrate because we have some lights out shooters in this league.”

Is the contest competitive, fun or a little bit of both for you?
“Both, I think a cool aspect the three-point competition adds is we will each have a charity that we’re representing, so it’s bigger than ourselves. We will have a little extra incentive as we go out there and shoot.”

How important is it for you to be able to play as well as give back?
“It’s beautiful to be able to combine both. To be able to play the game I enjoy and love, and to be able to don another thing I enjoy and love, which is giving. It’s a great way to make an already great weekend even better.”

Seimone Augustus, West All-Star

Do you have a favorite memory from your first All-Star experience?
“I actually won the Skills Challenge. It was in New York that year, my rookie season. That was my favorite memory.”

There are so many first-time All-Stars this year. Have you given any of them advice or talked to them about this whole experience?
“Not yet. Not yet. I think they’re just enjoying the moment and kind of soaking everything up. If they ever had questions I’ll let them know, but it’s basketball.”

How much better is this weekend when you have a bunch of teammates with you?
“It’s great because then I can get on their nerves. But no, it’s good to see my teammates here having fun. All of us are playing great but Sylvia (Fowles) is having a MVP season and Maya (Moore) is doing what Maya does. It’s good to be able to share these moments with them.”

How important is a game like tomorrow for the growth of the WNBA?
“It’s always good to be able to have something where we can showcase our talents and continue to fight the stereotypes of, ‘Girls can’t play.’ Tomorrow is a great opportunity for people to not only see from familiar faces like myself or Diana (Taurasi) but also new faces like the first-timers. That’ll help catapult us to a new area of people that haven’t seen basketball like this or those particular players for the first time.”

What are you looking forward to most about tomorrow?
“Just having fun. Having fun and enjoying it.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith, West All-Star

How exciting is it to be a part of the very first All-Star Game in Seattle?
“Anytime you’re a apart of an All-Star Game, especially in this league with the caliber of players that we have, is awesome. I thought Seattle has been a good host city so far. It’s a city that’s very excited about their basketball. Everytime we come in here there’s always a lot of fans that are cheering. I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow, I think it will be really exciting.”

How exciting is it for you to even be named a member of the All-Star team?
“It’s definitely something that I don’t take for granted. Playing in this league, you’re playing against the best every night. There’s only 12 teams, so it’s the top 12 point guards, shooting guards in the world. It’s definitely an amazing accomplishment and an honor to be here. Sitting next to Diana Taurasi, who’s a legend in our league, so many champions and MVPs here. It’s always to fun to be in the same breath as these caliber of players.”

How important is it to be playing with veteran All-Stars like Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird?
“It’s aspirational. This is my 3rd All-Star, I tore my ACL in the game before I could play in the game in 2015, so it’s exciting to get back to this level, to say I’m an all-Star again and represent for the Dallas Wings. This is the first one for the team’s franchise so it’s exciting for our team, and you’re a reflection for your team here. Just trying to represent the best for our organization, fans and just having fun.”

Candace Parker, Western Conference All-Star

There are multiple players making their first All-Star appearance. Have you offered them any advice or do you have any good memories from your first All-Star?
“Well, one of those is on my team – Chelsea Gray. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow in this short amount of time. I’m sure she’ll be coming here a lot. But I would just say it’s about having fun. This is for the fans and rewarding for all of us. It’s a fun experience.”

Throughout your career have you changed anything during the All-Star break in order to stay healthy for the rest of the season?
“I think early on in my career I was focused on what I was doing and what I was eating during the season. This year I really built a great base in the offseason. After the season, instead of taking a month off I really just stayed on my weightlifting program to build a great base. That’s so far, knock on wood, helped me feel a lot better this season.”

There’s obviously a bit of a rivalry between the Lynx and the Sparks, so are you excited to play alongside them for the All-Star Game?
“Yeah, it’s always a different vibe you know. You take a break in your season and you’re coming to play with your competitors, so it’s a little bit different. We’re excited to represent the West. We want to have fun, do it for the fans, but we definitely want to win.”

Rebekkah Brunson, West All-Star

How exciting is it to be a part of the very first All-Star Game in Seattle?
“It’s fun. I’m enjoying myself so far. I think Seattle is a great city and a great opportunity for the city and the league for us to be here. I’m excited and I’m ready to have some fun.”

How exciting has it been for your play to be recognized in being named an All-Star Game replacement?
“It feels good. It’s always unfortunate if someone gets hurt because you don’t want to have any type of injury replacements but I’m still excited about it. I happy about being able to be here to play and celebrate with my girls.”

Is the game competitive, fun or a little bit of both for you?
“A little bit of both. The only reason we’re here is because we’re competitive so you know that we want to win. At the same time though it’s about having fun and embracing the situation and enjoying playing with people you may not have the opportunity to play with. We won’t try to take the competition too far but everybody wants to win.”

Nneka Ogwumike, West All-Star

What’s your favorite part about the All-Star experience?
“Hanging out with my new teammates. Some of them are my actual teammates but most of them are people you play against.”

Who are you looking forward to playing with most besides your actual teammates?
“I don’t know, I can’t really pinpoint anybody really. It’s such a great squad. The West is always stacked. I think it’ll just be fun playing with everybody. It’ll be fun playing with Skylar (Diggins) again. I played with her on USA.”

There are so many first-time All-Stars. Have you gotten a chance to talk to any of them about what it means to be an All-Star?
“Not really but I’ve been able to talk to Chels (Gray). She’s basking in it. She deserves it 100 percent. I’m happy for her.”

What are you looking forward to about the second part of the season?
“I’m looking forward to some more competitive play. We have a lot of teams that are really starting to play well and we want to be able to stay at the top of the pack.”

Breanna Stewart, West All-Star

Does this All-Star spectacle remind you of anything you’ve done before? All of the festivities and events.
“It’s sort of similar to Final Four and that type of stuff. Having appearances and open practices and things like that before you go and play. Except there’s not as much on the line.”

What do you think of the format of rosters of East versus West? Do you think breaking it up by conference is better or is there perhaps a better way of doing it like just having captains picking teams?
“I think it’s a little interesting. I think with our league since we’ve changed things and we don’t really have an East and a Western Conference anymore when you go into playoffs. Instead, we have the top eight teams. You would think for All-Star you would want to have East and West and have the top 22 players. With that being said, it’s the East and the West and that’s what we’re doing.”

How important do you think a game like this is for the growth of the game and league?
“I think it’s great. It’s great to have this city of Seattle embrace it. I’ve seen Seahawks, Mariners, all the teams supporting us saying that they’re coming to the game and that type of thing. Really just getting as much exposure as we can and hopefully we can have the All-Star Game come back to Seattle.”

Sylvia Fowles, West All-Star

What are your expectations for this game?
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play with some of the best in the game. It should be fun.”

Sylvia, I read that after the playoffs last year that your coach wanted to feature you more. Do you remember that conversation and what did you do in the offseason to help prepare the success you’ve had for the first half of this season?
“Pretty much the same. Just trying to be consistent with what I do on-the-court. Just trying to be that dominant player that I am. She said I was relaxed a little bit and didn’t feel like I was up to that person I needed to be. She pretty much just challenged me to work on a couple of things and I took that overseas. I implemented it to the stuff she wanted me to do.”

What are the little things that coach told you to work on?
“It was more mental than anything. I think I’m my biggest critic. When things don’t go as planned I tend to get down on myself and it pretty much just takes me out of my game. Working on things like that is something that I worked on.”

What’s your favorite All-Star memory?
“Definitely my first one. My first All-Star Game is something I’ll always remember. After that, it’s been somewhat of a blur.”

Diana Taurasi, West All-Star

What advice do you give to all the first-time all-Stars?
“When I was a rookie, I got into the locker room and I was sitting in between Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes. I was in awe and out on the court petrified. I would tell them to enjoy the game and let loose. Don’t take it too serious but at the same time you want to go out there and shine. It’s a balancing act. There’s times in this league where you see a shift in momentum and the young kids have been so great this year and I’m really happy for them.”

Have you taken a lot of the first-timers under your wing and gave them advice on what to expect?
“I was talking to Tiff [Hayes] earlier and I told her to just ball out. I think she will have a big game tomorrow. She’s one of my favorite players to watch, so I’m excited to see her play.”

How awesome is it for you to continue to be named an All-Star, among the best of the best?
“That’s the one thing you never take for granted, when the fans vote you in. Tomorrow is going to be great because these Storm fans, they’re legit. They’ve been around for a long time. They’re a fabric of this league and they’re going to really be into the game tomorrow.”

Video Playlist: Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi

 

 

This post is part of the thread: 2017 WNBA Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


 

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