Monday, January 20th, 2020

2015 WNBA Finals: Practice quotes previewing game 5

Published on October 13, 2015


WNBA Finals Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 14, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN 2

With the WNBA finals best-of-five series tied 2-2, the Minnesota Lynx host the Indiana Fever in the title game Wednesday night. Coaches and players discussed their thoughts on game 5 during practice Tuesday.

Indiana Fever

Head coach Stephanie White

Q: What has impressed you the most about Maya Moore?

Stephanie White: That’s a hard one.  I said this when Maya was in college too, Maya reminds me of Tamika (Catchings) in the way that she plays, because she plays so hard. She refuses to lose.  Whether it be a loose ball, a rebound, hitting the big shot.  No matter what it is, she plays with a passion, a hunger and a drive that is Tamika Catchings-like.  I remember saying in college that she is a baby Tamika.  To me being able to compete at the level she competes at, to be as skilled as she is, and yet to always – not just in crunch or in big games – to have that drive is what is the most impressive to me.

Q: Is the game 5 a different animal or is just another elimination game?

White: There really is no magic formula to elimination games. I think it is a combination of a lot of things – and it’s not all us.  However, what we do have is a strong desire to compete at the highest level.  I think that is what is so great about this series. You have two of the most competitive, hardest working teams that are giving all they have for every second they are on the floor – and that’s what our team does.  Whether it puts us in a position to win games or, what allows us to be in ball games and allows us to be in that position is how hard we play.  I think credit goes to our team, elimination game or not, to be able to lay it on the line and be able to give every ounce of everything you have on every single possession to give yourself a chance to win a ball game.

Q: How as a coach do you manage emotions in a game like this?

White: I think by example.  I think it is important for me and our staff. We get excited in moments and we get frustrated in moments, but [we need] to maintain our poise and composure so our players will.  I think continuing to talk about it is one thing, but to be about it is another.  The way that we handle that, the way we approach [that], our team feeds into that, our team reads that.  So, we will talk about it and mention it, but at the same time we just have to be about it.

Q: How do you think your team will handle game 5?

White: The thing that I remember about that team is that we were very businesslike.  We never got caught up in the moment.  We were just very businesslike.  We approached things the same way we had all season long, one possession at a time, one game at a time.

Q: What is the big thing that is going to swing this game?

White: To me, it is in the paint.  Offensive rebounds, put backs, or turnovers for scores, really for either team.

Tamika Catchings

Q: What are your thoughts going into game 5?

Tamika Catchings: I’m excited. It’s not only exciting for our team and the Lynx, but just for the WNBA and what it stands for. You want to have a great series. You want to have a great Finals, that’s what every league wants. It’s more opportunities for fans to tune in and see the best teams competing. Tomorrow night is going to be a lot of fun for both sides. Of course, neither one of us wants to lose, but you can already tell the mood has been set. The stage has been set for a great game.

Q:  You’ve had so many elimination games already. Is game 5 any different or does it add another layer to it?

Cathings: It adds another layer to it, definitely. Obviously, this game means a little bit more than the other ones. Every other one was just to get to the next round, just to get to another series. Now, at the end of the night, the series is over one way or another. So [we’re] just preparing for that moment.

Q: Since you’ve already announced your retirement at the end of next year, how much pressure does that add to get it done this year?

Catchings: You want to go into every year thinking you’re going to make the playoffs. This has definitely been a blessing to be able to go as many times as we have. To be able to go to The Finals three times in my career, it’s truly a blessing. Tomorrow will be like that extra cherry on top, being able to finish and walk away next year with another championship.

Q: On her playoff matchups against Lindsay Whalen:

Catchings: It’s been fun. The most fun thing to me is playing with her with the USA Team. She’s just such a great person. That’s the thing. When you go up against people that you learn to love and grow to love, both on and off the court, it is tough when you’re competing against them. At the same time it’s fun because you have that little bit of rivalry, and that’s something that you do. You go away and get together with USA Teams and All-Star Games. These are the moments that we talk about so it’s a lot of fun.

Q: What are your impressions of Maya Moore, what she brings to this series, and what she brings to the league in general?

Catchings: Maya is awesome; absolutely amazing from the first time she got into the league coming from Connecticut. The hype when she got here, she’s definitely lived up to it, if not exceeded the expectations of how good she could be. The crazy thing is she could get better. She’s still young. She’s still got it going on. She’s important to this league because people tune in and people know who she is from following her from college and being able to see her success here in the WNBA with the [Minnesota] Lynx. She’s just an all-around kind of person that when you look at, you want your kid to be like [her]. Obviously, both of us are very faith-oriented. Our families are very important to us, and basketball has always been something that we love and have lived for, but it’s the other things, too. When people see her, they are drawn to her.

Briann January

Q: What did you learn from the game 5 in 2009 against Phoenix in your rookie season?

January: I learned what it took to win. That year Phoenix brought it and they stayed together. Championship games are full of runs and they stayed together throughout that entire run. To be a part of that but come out on the losing end taught me a ton.

Q: What can you say about the performance of your team’s bench in Game 4?

January: They’re huge. They’ve come up huge all year and I’ve said this time and time again, but everybody on our team has won a game for us this season. They’re all capable and they all have the ability to raise our level as a team and they’ve shown it. Every time their number has been called they’ve showed up. I can’t say enough about our bench. They are really the backbone of our team. They bring the energy, focus and intensity. They make the starters better every day in practice and you can’t put a value on them.

Q: How much has your attack mentality helped you in this series and getting to the free-throw line?

January: That attack mentality is something we’ve tried to maintain throughout this and we’ve lost it, especially in the games we’ve come out on the losing end. Coming into this game we know it will be the same. We’re probably not going to make it to the free-throw line 29 times here on their court but that mentality, aggressiveness, willingness to put yourself out there and get to the rim is something we need to hold on to.

Minnesota Lynx

Head coach Cheryl Reeve

Q: Can you talk about you team’s approach to a game 5?

Reeve: I think there are two things that happen in a game 5. We talk about playoffs being for players and players making plays. I think it’s true for every series, but game 5 is the epitome of it. Everybody is done making adjustments and watching video, so it comes down to your team’s identity. That’s usually what shows itself. If you weren’t a very good offensive team through most of the season, you’re probably not going to be good offensively in a game 5. That goes with everything -free-throws and rebounds- so we think your identity is shown in a game 5. It’s also that two teams have already played each other for 160 minutes and things are being taken away, so it’s what are you going to do next? And that’s where players make plays by saying “Okay I can’t go over there, so I’ll go here.” That’s where that element of it comes into play.

Q: Can you allow yourself to appreciate the moment that you and your team are in right now?

Reeve: I do appreciate it. When we beat Phoenix, my appreciation for this group was probably at its highest because getting to the finals was not an easy task for us. We played a really good L.A. team and winning that series was hard. Then there’s Phoenix who was really hard to play against all season for us. We came through that game with a sweep on the road. Every time we play, I’ve probably enjoyed it a little more because the older you get the more you understand that you need to do that. I think I was probably more task-oriented in my earlier runs with this team but now I’m at a point where I’m pretty relaxed and feel pretty good. We can’t be more prepared than we are. If we weren’t prepared than I’d be a mess. I have a mature group, a fan base that will turn out in droves and it will be an unbelievable environment. No matter what happens, I will have a great appreciation for it.

Maya Moore

Q: What has Tamika Catchings meant to the WNBA and the finals in general?

Maya Moore: She’s someone who has been so good for so long that you can hardly imagine what it would look like without her being one of the leaders in the WNBA. She was really a game-changing type player, someone who came out of college quick, strong, tall, fast, skilled, and had defense and offense. She brought in the total package as far as someone who competes every single game on both sides of the ball. She’s just been a relentless competitor for her whole career and really set the bar high. Then, she’s super active in her community. She’s definitely someone who cares about the impact she’s leaving on the people on and off the court. Again, you can’t say enough about Tamika and what she’s brought to the game.

Q: This is game 5. It’s a due or die game here for the championship. Is this what a competitor lives for?

Moore: It’s definitely been a very competitive series. It’s had highs and lows, moments of greatness and moments of wanting to be better. It ultimately comes down to this game. It’s game 5 here at home in the Target Center. It’s going to be a really exciting game, a lot of energy in the building. We can’t wait to get out on the court and play and just leave it all out there.

Q: How much does emotion play into these games?

Moore: You definitely have to utilize your emotions to help you because they could definitely be something that could be out of control in moments like this just because there’s so much on the line. There’s so much over the course of the season that you’re playing for, so that’s going to take maturity. The teams that hone in on their emotions the best can give themselves an advantage.

Q: Is it tough to mentally convince yourself that there is not a game 5? If you’re in a game 4 in an elimination game, is it tough to forget that there is an option to have a game 5?

Moore: Knowing there was a game 5 after we lost Sunday didn’t really change my mood. It’s great that we have another chance to win another championship, but it was still heartbreaking to lose. Any point in the playoffs when you lose a game, it feels like the end of the world because every game you put so much in and it means so much. We have to put that behind us and just focus on this opportunity that we have now, which does make me excited to know our dream and our goal is still intact.

Lindsay Whalen

Q: Are you looking forward to the atmosphere tomorrow night?

Lindsay Whalen: Yeah. That should be pretty cool. Should be a great atmosphere. It’s been all season. I would imagine with the way the playoffs have gone and how this series has gone, just how hard fought it’s been with two teams going at it. Now that it comes down to tomorrow night, I am sure both teams are going to be ready to go and our fans will be too. It should be a fun atmosphere here.

Q: What do you think has been the main reason this series has been so tight?

Whalen: I think it speaks to that and it speaks to the league as a whole, that there are so many great teams out there. It comes down to us and Indiana, and it has gone back and forth all series, which just shows the teams’ ability to follow the coach’s game plan. We got great leaders on both sides of the floor, players on both sides of the floor and a lot of people do a lot of things, so I think that is the reason why you are seeing it come down to the last game here.

Q: You played in lot of big games, both for your country at the championship games. Where does this stack up?

Whalen: It’s really hard to say, but this is going to be a lot of fun with a great atmosphere. Both teams worked really hard to be here, and this is why as a player you do all the things you do, to get ready for these moment and situations, to come out here and make some plays.


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