16 , 2004 Athens,
USA head coach Van Chancellor
On the play of Zuzana Klimesova:
It's amazing, I do a little television in the winter time for the
Southeastern Conference and I couldn't say her name for three years and
I called her the Special K. And I think she repaid me tonight for all those
nights when I mispronounced her name. She has 18 points, this might be the
best I've ever seen her play. I'm going to call her college coach tonight,
Jim Foster, and compliment him. Great kid, great job.
On the make-up of this year's women's Olympic
One of the great advantages that I've had is that two of my players
have been with me for eight years, meaning Sheryl (Swoopes) and Tina (Thompson).
They understand everything that I'm trying to get across. So that's important.
And, I've been with Dawn (Staley) and Lisa (Leslie) since 2002.
And the great play of the point guards is
I put Dawn out there and she understands everything that I'm trying
to do. It's amazing. Mine and her philosophy is almost identical. Then,
I put in Pee-Wee (Shannon Johnson) that has a great understanding and
then Sue Bird has really developed. We have three true point guards and
I cannot tell you what an advantage that is. I can call a play and get
the ball where I want it.
On the composure of the team today when they
They had a real calm reaction. In the first timeout, the coaches
were thinking a mile a minute what are we going to do?' If they
had my reaction, we would've got beat!
At that first time out, I said, we'll switch everything that's not involving
Dawn Staley. Now, you talk about an advantage? Whoa! Is that an advantage
that you can just do that? That's what I thought turned the tides for
Swin Cash (Detroit Shock)
Coach Chancellor credited you with
providing a spark today, did you feel you did?
Yeah, somewhat, I'm starting to understand what my role is. I already
knew what it was coming into the game but every game it evolves differently.
I'm taking whatever minute that he puts me in there trying to be consistent
and do something good.
Are you focusing on anything specifically?
Doing a lot of little stuff. If someone is scoring trying to come
in there and be a defensive spark., rebound the basketball, try to make
good plays, good decisions on offense and just contribute that's all.
I don't think it's one thing in particular but if I'm called upon to bring
certain things to the game then I'm able to do that. But overall I just
try to go into the game and do all the little stuff.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
On the chemistry of the women's team
We've had plenty of time to play together. We played together in
the World Championship and we've come here. With the addition of just
a few extra players, we pretty much have the same team. So, I think for
us, it's kind of easy because we fit in and know our roles.
On the biggest challenges to the USA women
Every team provides a challenge for us. The Czech Republic came
out and they were up by nine in the first half. Every team brings something
very different to the table. It's up to us to match the challenge and
play against different defenses and try to figure out different ways to
What turned it around today when the team
went on two second half runs?
We talked at halftime. We said that over the last four games
the three exhibition games and the first game of the Olympics we
really didn't come out in the third quarter and attack. That's one thing
the coaches said, when we come out we have to attack. That's what we did,
especially defensively with steals in the passing lanes. Offensively,
we were converting. That was the biggest thing.
Can you talk about the job your front line
was able to do today, especially on the glass?
Everybody did a good job today. I think the biggest thing was that
we came out in the 3rd quarter and our plan coming out of the locker room
was just to attack them, jump on them and play great defense and et some
easy baskets. And we did a great job, going on something like a 25 to
2 run, or something like that. It is something that we know we are capable
of doing every game. Now it is up to us to figure out how we start the
game like that.
It seems like the teams are coming out fired
up to play you. What is the key to putting that fire out?
Everyone wants to beat the USA. If you watched the men last night,
Puerto Rico came out fired up. The same thing for us tonight. They came
out and jumped on us and were shooting like what seemed like 95%. We knew
that once we picked up our defense and got our hands in their faces, we
could slow them down.. And we did.
Yolanda Griffith (Sacramento Monarchs)
On whether the men's loss made the
women's team more focused on winning today:
You can't compare us to the men, all we can do is focus on USA
Basketball as the women's team. We've been working very hard as a team,
trying to settle down on the turnovers, that's our main focus. We're not
focused on anything else. We know that on any given day, anything is possible.
We're just trying to come out as a USA Basketball team. We're supporting
(the men's team), we're supporting the swimmers, we're supporting everybody.
But our main focus is to do what we need to do as a team.
How have you been able to build your chemistry
With the experience we have with the veterans on this USA team,
then you have some young players on the team. It doesn't take a lot of
time to get the chemistry going. Tonight was a great effort for our team.
Each practice has been great, there's been a lot of improvement. We know
we have to get better if we want to get to the final game.
Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars)
What's the difference between being
an Olympian and a member of the World Championship team?
There's a big difference. When you actually become an Olympian
that's what all athletes dream of. Any time you're an athlete and want
something you just work hard at it and you're final goal is to become
a professional first of all and then to actually become an Olympian is
the top honor for every athlete.
What was the key to victory tonight?
I think the most important thing is we stuck with it, we kept working
hard. They shot a lot of shots, they hit a lot of big shots in the beginning.
What it allowed us to do is settle back, keep running our things and eventually
we'll have a chance to stop them We put our press on them and got ourselves
back in the game. In the third quarter our starter started the game and
took control from the beginning.
How important is it going to be that this
team has 12 very talented players?
What it gives our coaches the ability to do is give different looks.
One good thing is it allows us to come off the bench and work hard. A
lot of us know what we've got to do. We're willing to accept our roles....it's
a lot of fun playing with the players, you get in with the veterans, you
get in with the younger players, and it's a lot of fun when you see people
not caring about their name on the back. It's a lot of fun because we
work the ball and we have people who can put the ball in the hole and
you see it that every time were out on the floor. You see us smiling out
there on the floor and that's what basketball is all about.
Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
Czech Republic's guard got four fouls
in the first quarter and then two other players had four fouls by half:
Sometimes you don't realize that it's the same person that's fouling
and I didn't realize it until I came to the bench that their point guard
had four and then the post player. We were really trying to be aggressive
We have Dawn Staley who is our captain, who's our leader and she and
I, I guess, have the most international experience because we've been
playing together the last 15 years. So that's one connection, there there's
Sheryl Swoopes who has been with us since 1995
How important is that you are passing your
experience from past Olympics down to the younger players?
Katrina McClain and Teresa Edwards were our leaders. They were
constantly taking us under their wing, whether it was physically showing
us in practice the defense or just the competitiveness of getting out
there, but we had players who were the veterans and led us and that's
just our duty to do that.
About the men losing Sunday:
We look at it as more of a family. We're all together here and
we're cheering for them no matter what happens. Obviously as Americans,
the USA, gold is our goal for every sport. We never come here thinking
we just want to medal or get silver, that's not it our thoughts. So we're
cheering for them. It's pool play and they just have to win it differently.
Obviously it was embarrassing to us to experience that loss yesterday,
but at the same time it's not over. That day is over and they still have
an opportunity for gold.
Do you feel like you're gaining momentum,
are you on the right path after the first two wins?
We're on the right path but that game is over, everything I did
out there is over and I have to get ready for our next opponent because
even after pool play there was a time we crossed , beat Australia, then
came back and played Australia again, beat them again, then played Brazil
in the gold medal (game) in 1996. So we could see the Czechs again easily
and it could be a one-point game. So I never get too high or low about
the competition, that game's over and we need to move on.
Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting)
On the USA's second half performance today
The Czech Republic came out really strong, hitting all their shots.
We know that they are not going to beat teams in the first quarter and
maybe not in the half. But, during the course of the game, we can usually
wear folks out and put on a big run. That's what we did to secure a lead
and then we were able to play everybody.
With the fact that this is your third Olympics,
does it ever get old?
No, it never gets old for me because this is basketball in its
purest sense. It takes me back to the days when I would wake up in the
morning, brush my teeth and go right out to the court to play. When there's
nothing involved, no politics
just you and nine other guys on the
court playing and you're playing for just pride.
Talk about that bond with your teammates
It's tremendous. We've got a funny group of girls. They're serious,
they're intense, but at the same time, they know what the stakes are here
and we're really focused on that. The competition is tough and we can't
take anybody lightly. We are everybody's best game. We're the team everybody
is shooting for and everybody measures how they are playing against us.
So, the adrenaline for them is just overflowing and they might make shots
that they don't usually make. We just have to take their runs and not
succumb to the pressure.
Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets)
What is your reaction to the crowds
that have been watching you play?
The fan core for both games
New Zealand the other day and
the Czechs today and all our fans have been very supportive. I have been
pretty impressed that regardless of what the numbers are, I feel that
the fans have really gotten into the games, have ben very excited about
it and have definitely cheered their countries on.
How did the team play today?
I thought overall we came out and executed, did the things that
we wanted to do and needed to do and walked out of here with a W today.
There was a time today that Coach Chancellor said we possibly could have
given up a little bit , the first quarter especially when they came out
and could not miss. Defensively I thought we were on them and doing everything
I thought we could do defensively, but they were just hitting shots.
But once we turned up our defense, especially in the second half, we
were a lot more aggressive and slowed them down a little bit. Once they
cooled off, I thought that was the biggest difference in the game. I don't
think they really got their transition game going and that's one of their
I thought both offensively and defensively we executed well as a team.
It's good to get another win.
What was the key part of the game for the
Their point guard had four fouls in the first quarter and that
was huge for us. They had to bring in her sub and she is not as aggressive
as their starting point guard, so we were able to attack her a little
bit more in our press.
The second half especially we turned up our press and we were just running
and jumping. They weren't able to throw the ball where they wanted to.
We forced some turnovers and we were able to convert those into some layups.
What will the next game (vs. South Korea)
They are a different type of a team from the Czechs. The Asian
players play a completely different style of basketball than we do. They
don't relly have a true center. All 5 players play all 5 positions. And
they shoot the ball from long range. We will have our hands full defensively.
We should be able to kill them inside with Yolanda, Ruth, Tina, Leslie.
That will probably be our game plan. I am not the coach, but we will probably
take the ball down low. Defensively we will have our hands full from outside.
All five of our players will have to guard out on the perimeter.
Tina Thompson (Houston Comets)
On today's game:
The game was really competitive and we started off a little slow.
The Czech team was really strong offensively, they were hitting shots.
I think for awhile that we didn't think they were going to miss. We kept
up our defensive plan and continued to pressure.
In our first game we were a little anxious, trying to get things done.
We had been traveling for awhile and I think anxiety was something that
affected us in the first game. But today we were a lot more patient, it's
something that we've been practicing in practice and because we have so
many talented players, everyone's wanting to get the job done.
Their point guard got into a little foul trouble. Their second point
guard doesn't handle the ball as well as their starting point. Their starting
point guard is really strong. When that happened we wanted to pressure
their second point guard as much as possible and hope they would turn
the ball over and give us the chance to create offensive off of our defense.
On the physical games:
The physicality is very high here. The games are very competitive and
that's what we expect. We know that no team is going to give us anything
easy. Our inside game is very strong. Lisa has created quite a presence
in that she does what she does best inside. They're not going to allow
us to pass the ball in to her or for her to get easy shots. It's definitely
physical, but she's taking most of the beating so I have no complaints