Dan Hughes, Seattle Storm
Q: How do you make sure the team stays focused to come out and stay motivated after a big win in Game 1?
Hughes: I think there’s an expectation that you’re going to get an aggressive reaction from Washington. They’re a good basketball team, so all of a sudden their assertiveness will come to the forefront. We have to bring a response in keeping with that. We may have to have even greater focus, even greater effort to attain and do the things that we want to do. We just don’t want to be surprised by that because that’s a typical thing for good basketball teams to come out and be good on the glass and protect the basketball.
Q: After Game 1 Breanna Stewart said the focus was for you all to disrupt Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver from getting any type of rhythm. Is that still a continued focus?
Hughes: I think it’s a continued focus and I also think you have to recognize that to do that you have to do some early work. And we’re bringing multiple people at them. If you study the game, we’re not just talking about aggressive behavior on a solo defender, we have congestion coming at them. But the response to congestion is you have to get back and guard a team that’s shooting the ball well from three. And they didn’t in the first game and they had some looks. They’re probably going to shoot the ball even better so our task is even greater now because as we do that we have to get back out to people that can score.
Q: Did you feel the fans in Game 1?
Hughes: Oh my gosh. The Key crowd is incredibly impactful and it’s grown through the years. I’ve played here a lot of years and I came here and felt it but as the season goes on it’s been more impactful and you can’t help but feel it. Sometimes you feel it in ways where you can’t even hear whistles sometimes. It gets loud in there.
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
Q: Knowing that Washington will come out and give you everything they have for Game 2, how do you keep the focus and sustained energy?
Stewart: We know they’re going to come out aggressive and want to play better than they played last game and so are we. We’re going to come out just as aggressive and there were things that we needed to do better and we’re on our homecourt and need to protect it.
Q: After a convincing win like Game 1, how difficult is it to go back in the film room and be critical of your play?
Stewart: It’s honestly not that difficult at all. We were able to get out in transition and really get into the rhythm that we wanted to early but there was still stuff that we could have done better. Some of our rotations were a little off defensively and they just ended up missing the shot. We definitely need to clean those things up and be crisper.
Q: How impactful was the fans at Key Arena for Game 1?
Stewart: The fans have supported us all year, especially as of late. Having them come out and be loud for 40 minutes motivates us to want to play our best and I’ve heard the crowd is going to be better for Game 2 than it was for Game 1.
Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
Q: Can you talk about the challenges of staying focused for Game 2 after winning Game 1?
Bird: That’s the challenge right, you can’t get too fat and happy over one win. It’s just one win. It’s a series and you have to keep the same focus. You have to understand the success that we had was because of our energy level. You can talk about X’s and O’s, defensive schemes – which were there for us and we executed well – but it was really our energy that allowed us to do that. We know Washington is going to come out ready to go in Game 2 and we have to match that and even exceed it.
Q: What type of energy can you expect from Washington as they try to even the series?
Bird: I expect a ton of energy from them right out the gate. I re-watched the game and I heard Mike Thibault saying he felt like his team was casual and they were out there going through the motions so I’m sure that’s what they will be talking about in their practice and going into Game 2. We just have to make sure we don’t get complacent.
Mike Thibault, Washington Mystics
Q: How do you withstand the Storm’s intensity as they feed off the crowd early on and fight that surge to keep yourselves in the game?
Thibault: First thing is that it’s be nice to make a couple of shots. That would slow it down a little bit. I thought that our turnovers really helped them with that. They had 15 transition points in the first half. Most of them were off our turnovers. That gets the crowd going. It gets them fired up. It gets them points in the paint. They had only three in the second half, but the damage had been done. Live ball turnovers are really tough, and they capitalized on almost all of them. That’s the first way to keep the crowd out of it.
Q: What’s the emphasis for the team to come home with a 1-1 split?
Thibault: Do the things that we know we’re supposed to do well. I don’t think we did anything well in the first half that we’ve been doing for the last eight weeks. Most of what we did was haphazard or sloppy. I just felt that we were sloppy early, and I don’t know why. I couldn’t tell you if that was fatigue, their energy, or if it was a combination of a bunch of things. I think we need do the things that we do well and make them pay for how they’re defending us. You’ve got to make open shots, which we didn’t do early. It just snowballed on us.
Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics
Q: How do you change your approach after for Game 2 and take something from yesterday?
EDD: You’ve got to learn from it. As much as you try to forget about it and get ready for the next one. You have to sit back, watch film and take some keys away. Defensively we weren’t communicating right. We were a little sloppy on that end, and then on offense we just weren’t able to get into our sets. They played really aggressive, and we have to make some adjustments today. We watched a ton of film and now we’re here to clean stuff up.
Q: How do you deal with the pressure of wanting to go home 1-1 as opposed to being down 0-2?
EDD: We’ve definitely had some games where it was do or die, so we’ve been in this situation and we know how important tomorrow is. Have to have a short memory, move on and be ready for tomorrow.
Q: How do you overcome their early energy and fend off that onslaught?
EDD: Play smarter. I think we came out and wanted to be aggressive, but we weren’t being smart with our reads. Sometimes you don’t beat aggression with aggression. You have to take a step back and be smart, make them pay for being overaggressive and try to get them to change up their defense coverages.
Kristi Toliver, Washington Mystics
Q: How do you bounce back from a rough game like that, especially since you haven’t had a game like that since before the All-Star Break?
Toliver: It’s a series. Seattle did what they were supposed to do. They were supposed to win Game 1. They were supposed to protect their home court, and they played well. For us, it’s just a matter of bouncing back, getting back to our identity and who we are, and certainly not panic. There’s a lot of games to be played, a lot of minutes left. I think we feel good, regrouped and will continue to get better as the series goes on.
Q: How comfortable does the team feel facing pressure, especially since this isn’t the first time you’ve faced pressure in the playoffs this season.
Toliver: The goal on the road is to at least get one. We were able to do that in the last series against Atlanta and will have another opportunity tomorrow. We’re certainly not in panic mode. We have a lot of great players and a lot of plays to be made, so I think we feel really good about it. We know we didn’t play our best basketball yesterday and we can be better.
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