Championship game press conference

Post-game press conference transcripts from last night:

Q. Was fatigue a factor tonight, emotional, physical in any way?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think so. We were so excited today, and everybody was so anxious for the game. It definitely plays into just the performance tonight because everything just felt like it was like a slugfest, so slow, and everybody trying to move. We were doing a good job, a decent job in the first half defensively, but second half I just felt like yeah, it was just not a good deal.

Q. Tamika, this series has been so hard fought, so close for the first four games. Are you surprised it turned out the way it did with kind of a run away for Minnesota?

TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Yeah. This is not the way we wanted it to end, just like we talked about, just the fatigue factor. No matter what happened tonight, I was going to be proud of this group. This group was it’s been an amazing journey this year.

One thing that I told them in the huddle, there’s nothing to hang your head down for. We played, and we fought, and we did every single thing that we possibly could. Every single thing the coaches asked of us, we did. So I’m proud of this group. I’m especially proud of this girl right here [Briann January], the way that she performed and led this team the last four games yeah, this whole series, just being able to control the game the way she did.
As a group, as a unit, that’s all you can ask for from a team, that they give everything they have and play with so much heart.

Q. Maya, you’ve been here for three of these now, and not necessarily to compare the three, but given what you guys went through this year the additions, the injuries, the difficult August is this one maybe a little bit special because of having overcome all that?

MAYA MOORE: Absolutely. There have been just different elements of the journey of trying to be so successful every single year. The mental, the emotional energy and focus that that takes, the pressure, the expectations, and when things don’t go perfectly, how do we handle it? We want to be so great all the time, and we weren’t able to do that every minute of every game.

I think that was our biggest struggle of trying to get over our perfectionism and just pushing through and not quitting and not giving up and bouncing back, play after play, game after game. That was the definition of this series of just trying to bounce back. We win, they win. We win, they win. We win. So it’s just really sweet to win this way.

Q. Maya, you mentioned Seimone, but both she and Lindsay [Whalen] were dealing with health issues at the end of the regular season. I’m just wondering, it just seemed like both of them were able to really come through and make clutch plays during these Finals even if they weren’t 100 percent physically.

MAYA MOORE: What Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus did was so hard. You can’t imagine how hard it is to come back from injury at the most important time of the season, when everyone is playing well and hard and desperate and you have to find a way to be effective when your body isn’t maybe even 80 percent, and staying on your rehab and not getting frustrated that you have to spend an extra hour every day to rehab and ice and stretch and get treatment because your body needs it, and they did it.

I remember sitting back in our last regular season game and watching them run up and down the court rehabbing, trying to get their wind, trying to get their condition so they could be ready to help this team when playoffs came around, and it all paid off.

Q. It seemed like Tamika was trying to shoot you back into the game late. Your thoughts on her? Obviously, a veteran who obviously won’t get that many opportunities like this again.

COACH WHITE: Yeah, it’s Tamika is special. She’s just she’s really special. She has accomplished everything and everything that you can accomplish in women’s basketball, and I felt like this year was probably, in my opinion, her greatest accomplishment because of the way she got her teammates to elevate their play. The way she made them better, the way she empowered them, the way she sort of you know, like a mom would do pushed them along and then handed over the reins, in a sense.

I’m extremely proud of her for that. She looked physically today like she was in her 20s again. She was jumping all over the place. I’m just really proud of the way that she has approached this team, and I just I don’t have enough positive adjectives to use in regards to Tamika. But she’s just really, really special, a once in a lifetime player for a coach to be able to coach.

Q. Stephanie, this ends 2015, but you really do have Tamika playing as well as she has and a bunch of 20 somethings returning. Any thought about you certainly seem to have the pieces to make a run at this next year although New York and Chicago are looming.

COACH WHITE: Not really. It’s just too fresh and too early. Being in The Finals and I think Tamika alluded to this with some of her teammates it’s incredibly difficult, not only to go through the grind of the regular season, but then you have to be on your A game through the entire playoffs. There are great teams in the Eastern Conference.

You have to do your work early in the sense you don’t want to fall behind too much in terms of seeding and things like that, but you also have to be on your A game at all times. It’s very difficult.

Yeah, you look at who we have on our roster and a young core, so to speak, but we also realize how incredibly difficult it is. No thoughts on that right now.

Q. If you saw the box score before the game with Maya with five points, what do you think the final score is going to be?

COACH REEVE: We get beat by 20. We get beat by 20. What a testament to this team, you know. I think probably it tells our story. I think Game 5 tells our story. First and foremost, we didn’t do anything easy. This was not an easy year for us by any stretch. Just finding a way and having people step up for us.

We don’t get enough credit for our depth. Largely, people think that I don’t play people enough. I think that we don’t have Western Conference home court advantage without Renee and Anna. There’s no question about it. Devereaux Peters, the play of her throughout the playoffs was really, really big. And I thought tonight was a testament to those guys really stepping up.

Obviously, Syl was big. I thought [Lindsay] Whalen played well in Game 4 and Game 5. And then Seimone being Seimone, that was really important for us.

Q. Cheryl, yesterday you talked about how this isn’t a team on the rise, this is a team at its peak, and it’s probably going to it’s not going to go up any further. To get it done for a third time in five years, just what does it mean to you, and what does it mean to the people who were here for all three of them?

COACH REEVE: I experienced a great deal of emotion when we made the finals. I think because I have an appreciation of where these guys are and how hard it was, overall health. I think that, when you put things out in the universe as much as the media has, you can’t help but be human, and I think that maybe Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah [Brunson] kind of heard the words of kind of that they were old, older, whatever it was, and that this thing was coming to an end and maybe even this year, we weren’t going to be able to get through it this year.

I think that those are things that kind of fuel this group. At the same time, I think it made them appreciate things. Each time we’re together, it gets harder and harder. The rise is always the easiest, as people tell you. Staying here is incredibly difficult, and you don’t do it without the fortitude of players like Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah Brunson.

By the way, please talk about Rebekkah Brunson because she was absent for four games and she really showed up in a big way. We’re not in the WNBA Finals without Rebekkah Brunson in the L.A. series and the Phoenix series, and then certainly in Game 5 she showed up in a big, big way.