14 , 2004 Athens,
coach Van Chancellor (Houston Comets)
On the team's veterans:
I was talking with Larry Brown (USA men's head coach)
and I realized how valuable our experience is when I think about our players
like Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes. They have the ability
to get us to do the things we need to do to win a game. Then on a night
like tonight when they struggled early, put in those young guns and allow
them to rock and roll. They turned it around and that made all 11 players
better. When they went in that made the first five play better.
Where does Yolanda Griffith fit in?
Yolanda Griffith in my mind right now is one of the premiere players
in the whole Olympics, she gives us something nobody else can. A player
who is absolutely, positively good enough to start, can rebound, can block
shots and can defend. Having Yolanda Griffith, I'm able to sleep at night.
Were you pleased with the result of the game
I thought we played really, really well. A lot of people would
take our stat sheet and think we turned the ball over too much, but that's
because they counted offensive fouls as turnovers so that was a portion
of it. I thought the turnovers were a little high but I played so many
players together. We're suppose to beat New Zealand by whatever and we
beat New Zealand by whatever, and that's what I'm happy about. If we had
won by 20 I wouldn't be happy. We were suppose to beat them 99 to whatever
it was and that's what we did.
The players were saying this is the best
passing they done:
Yeah, yeah because we've been on them for four days. We have now
had four real practices. Those practices we had in New York weren't real
practices, they were just make believe practices. I traveled so much I
couldn't work. The last four practices we practiced for two hours and
15 minutes. Let me just tell you, I mean non-stop. Getting their attention,
not putting up with things, talking to the team about sharing. The one
thing that USA Basketball stands for is sharing the ball. If we do one
thing we've got to share the ball.
What about your next opponent, the Czech
We have played the Czechs, they had us 26-11 over there. I didn't
have all the players, but they still had us 26-11. This is the same team
in the qualifying deal that Russia beat 59-56. This is a really, really
good team that's young that we're playing. Really young but really good.
They (the USA team) know that. They've been around. You call Lisa, Dawn
and Sheryl and all the them and say hey ladies, let me tell you
something, we're going to have a battle tonight.' They're going to listen.
I don't have to worry, this game (vs. New Zealand) is over with. When
we go the film room in the morning I will not mention this game. I will
not let anyone around me mention this game. I won't let the Greek interpreters
on my bus mention this game.
What about Diana Taurasi?
Here's where I see Taurasi. This is an amazing player. The only
player I've ever coached that I told with over two minutes to go that
if she didn't shoot the next ball she touched I was taking her out. I
couldn't get here to shoot enough. Now whatever it' is, you know
they said Magic Johnson had it,' they said Larry Bird had it,'
they said Cynthia Cooper had it,' they said Nancy Lieberman had
it,' whatever that is, Diana Taurasi has it, a sixth sense. You
come up and trap here and she just throws over her head, if it's shot
time, ohhh, she's just a special player. She's going to be one of the
all-time greats if she keeps working.
Bird (Seattle Storm)
On the youth of the Olympic team:
Coach Chancellor has said, he didn't pick this team for '08, he
picked this team to be prepared for '04. We are focused on where we are
right now and what we're doing right now. But, I don't see any reason
why the guys you saw on the court at the end we'll be in
Beijing. But, that's not to say
I think Lisa and Sheryl still have
got a lot left. For Dawn, she claims it's her last Olympics but you never
What have the veterans taught you about their
experience from the last two or three Olympics?
It's really just the little things. Like
'Hey Dawn, what should
I bring to Opening Ceremonies?' or Lisa, what do we wear for this
or where do we have to be? Can we bring cameras? The little things like
that. On the court? You just have to watch them. You watch how hard they
play. Everyday in practice, you think it's a game at our practice with
how intense they are. They raise the level of intensity for everyone else.
For me, being a point guard
Dawn teaches me so much. How to lead
a team. Even though you have Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes, you can still
tell them where to go and that's important as a point guard. You have
On today's game:
I think that today was a step in the right direction for us. We
haven't been able to train all that much, so to get this first game under
our belt and to win the way we did and most importantly to play the way
we did, I think is a great start for us.
Being aggressive throughout, regardless of
the score, is that a trademark of this team?
I think so. It's not us trying to beat up on teams, it is more
so for us. We want to get better with every game we play, with every practice
we have. And yet, at the same time, yes you do want to send a message.
There are players from different teams watching these games, coaches are
scouting and we need to send the right message to them about what we are
When you guys came in as that second unit,
after the rough start, were you trying to get something going?
I think that the next five that coach subbed in in that first quarter,
we play really well together. We just went out there and played. We rebounded,
we got loose balls and did all those little things. I think Diana and
Swin and Yolanda really got us going.
Griffith (Sacramento Monarchs)
On the team's rebounding effort:
We love to rebound and play defense. I don't know how many rebounds
we had today over them, but it was a great team effort.
Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
Tell me about the development of this
I think we're continuing to get better and we're going to get better
every game. Every person has to step up in different ways so we're playing
good team basketball. We've got to get better on defense and we will continue
to do that.
This is a long tournament:
It's definitely a situation where we'll take it one team at a time,
one game at a time. We don't underestimate our opponent. Our next game
is again Czech Republic which is a very strong team, and we like it that
way. We have a game every other day so we get an opportunity to scout,
watch the other team and prepare, go out there and just roll.
The team played well today. Is the team as
good as everyone has heard and is expected to be?
We're happy about the win today, but it's over. It's kind of like
what have you done for me lately. This day is over and this game is over
and now we have to look forward to the Czechs who are a very good team.
They are a different style. Obviously a a lot stronger and a more physical
team that can shoot the ball. It will definitely be a different style
and probably a different score. We are working hard to keep teams from
scoring a lot of points with our defense and we want our defense to really
help ignite our offense.
How different is the Olympic style of basketball
For me personally? Well, I think it was an adjustment. The international
style is more physical. This team today (New Zealand) decided to double
and triple and scratch and hold and do everything they could. I just tried
to not get frustrated and go out there and play. Obviously, I look to
get better and better and be stronger in the next game than I was today.
And I will keeping building until we get to the Gold Medal.
How well did the team play together?
I thought that we came out a little flat in the beginning, a little
nervous, but once we got our first field goal and kind of got into our
defense, our defense is what really ignited our offense. I thought overall
we did a good job and played good team basketball. We played together
and shared the ball.
Staley (Charlotte Sting)
How great is it having Yolanda Griffith back?
How valuable is she?
She is tremendously valuable. She's a walking rebound machine.
There is nobody in the world who plays like Yolanda. Cathings is close,
she's close, but as far as rebounds and rebounding the basketball she
is probably the best in the world.
What makes her that way?
The hunger. She never gives up on plays. She is selfless. And you
need players like that when you are playing in the Olympics because you
have Lisa, you have Sheryl, you have Tina. They are l used to having the
ball and scoring the ball. Then you have Yo who , when they miss shots,
she is right there, cleaning it up.
How close are you to being comfortable in
turning it over to the young kids?
Comfortable after this stint here. Not before the Olympics, after
them. You have to have people who understand and play on the Olympic level
to know. It takes talent to win, but it also takes a little bit of experience,
a lot of experience to know what the expectations are. We're just trying
to show them what it takes.
Taurasi looked pretty good out there , has
she made a quick adjustment?
Yeah. She can play. D can flat out play basketball. She just has
a God-given talent to play the game. She has to get some experience. I
think Diana is probably a little too selfless out there. She needs to
shoot the basketball a little bit more out there. In the next Olympics
she is probably going to be relied on heavily to shoot the ball so she
has got to get a feel for the Olympic game. She has given up a lot of
shots today and that is from wanting to share the basketball.
Swoopes (Houston Comets)
On the Olympic experience:
Playing in this Olympics is as exciting as the other two that I've
played in. It's a great opportunity to come here and represent our country
and to play with the best players in the world, playing against the best
players in the world. We have a mixture of players. We have some veterans,
we have some players that have never been here before and we have some
players that are right down the middle. So, it's exciting for me. To play
with Dawn (Staley), Katie (Smith) and Tina (Thompson), but also getting
a chance to play with Swin (Cash), Sue (Bird) and Diana (Taurasi) who
haven't been here before. It's a great mixture of players and of talent.
I'm just excited about it again.
On the slow start:
It was definitely a slow start. That's probably one thing we didn't
want to do but for whatever reason we always seem to do that. We start
off slow and then we usually start off the third quarter the same way.
I think it was a little bit of everything, the excitement of being here
again, our first game, all the fans we had here were incredible, it just
took us awhile and everybody had to just settle down. Once we started
doing the things we do in practice everyday, moving the ball, sharing
the ball, playing great defense, I think that was the biggest turnaround
in the game.
Tarausi (Phoenix Mercury)
You are playing some tough team, but
this is kind of a special deal. Is this a step up?
You know, there is just such a blend of old and new talent and
sometimes that makes it kind of hard to get to get good chemistry. But
so far we've been willing to put our egos aside, you know, minutes and
points aside and just go and win.
Who do you anticipate being the stiffest
There are a lot of good teamsRussia, Australia and in our
group I think the Czech Republic is going to be our toughest competition.
They played Russia to a five point game in the Euro Championship.
Being a rookie, do you have to carry projectors
and luggage and things like that?
No, I just have to get muffins for Lisa (laughter). That's about
it. Nah, they've been good.
Talk about your second unit
The second group, we just try to bring some energy. That's what
we have on our side, that youth and that energy, so we try to pick up
the pace, get some easy buckets and wear them out for the other group.
You guys did a lot of passing and moved the
ball around a lot. Can you comment on that?
That's the key. We have so many great players that you could fall
into one pass and create your own shot, but that sometimes would be too
easy. When you play against good teams where every pas is going to be
contested, where every shot is going to be contested, you need that ball
movement and team play that we had today.
You guys were up by 50 points today and made
it look easy. Do you think there is any danger of ever slacking off?
That's an important point. It is important that whether we are
up 50 or 10 or 2 that we play the same way. The minute you start changing
the way you play is the minute you start getting worse as a player and
as a team.
What are the veterans with Olympic experience
They've been great about showing us what the experience is all
about and their tradition. Dawn (Staley) has been saying how this will
be her last Olympics and how she wants to go out the right way, but at
the same time telling us she wants to show us how to win a gold medal.
And that's one of the reasons they brought her in to this team. She is
such a great leader. They give us the things to think about, how dominating
they have been in the last 2 Olympics and how we have to keep it going
for all the people.
Thompson (Houston Comets)
On the Olympic experience:
It feels good. When you play a sport and you are a professional
athlete, you want to be as competitive as you possibly can to play at
a high level. For us, this is the highest level. Olympic basketball is
the top. It doesn't get any better than this. The winner of this tournament
is the best in the world. It is bigger than anything we've ever done up
to this point.
Does the score send a message?
We want to send messages. We want to get every advantage that we
possibly can and play as hard and at as high of an intensity level that
we can. So, I think the score of this game tells a story in itself.