18 , 2004 Athens,
USA head coach Van Chancellor
Let me compliment the team from Korea. They were really well prepared.
This is a very young team. Number four (Yeong Ok Kim) and five (Mu Sun
Lee) for them were outstanding players. I thought they did an excellent
job penetrating and shooting the basketball. We eventually used our depth
to wear them down.
On sending in five subs with 3:26 to play
in the first:
I did that because I wanted to wear them down a little bit. I wasn't
unhappy with (my starting five), but that backfired on us tonight. Our
young guns came in a lost a little ground, where they've been gaining
ground. But I did it because I thought our young players could match them
better and they were so much quicker. Then we had a defensive adjustment
in the second half. I should have done this in the first half, we started
switching all screens.
In the first half they penetrated like mad, kicked it out and shot the
three-ball from somewhere in downtown Athens. Four and five shot the ball
twice where I didn't think they could see the basket they were so far
out. They were red-hot. Here's what happens, when you're the USA and you
play a team and something goes wrong, it's not always the USA's fault.
It might be that the other team's playing really well. Early in the game
I didn't think we were playing bad. We were throwing up three-balls we
shouldn't have, but defensively ... it's hard to defend (Yeong Ok Kim),
who was shooting about three steps out past the center line. Then when
you run out there, she runs by you and throws it to someone else who throws
up the three-ball. Give them credit.
What did you think about the men's team coming
to the game after their practice today?
I thought it was really nice, especially when you consider that
they're trying to solve some of their problems. They had to make an effort
to get here today. From where we go to practice, from our rooms, come
back, shower and come over here. That's effort and I do appreciate it.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
You got off to a slow start again today.
Is there a pattern here?
I think definitely the first five minutes of the a\1st quarter
and the 3rd quarter are the most important of the game. We are probably
the most talented team out there. That doesn't mean we are going to blow
everybody out in the first half. That is only 20 minutes of basketball.
I think today we showed the kind of character we have by coming out in
the 3rd quarter and just taking it to them. The first 5 minutes of the
third quarter, that was it. Game over.
It looked like Lisa Leslie just took over.
Is she the player that no other team can match up with?
Well it was with this team. That is one thing we talked about in
the locker room before the game. We have a huge advantage inside
when Ruth came in at the end, she was killing them.
We have a he advantage there and we just wanted to pound the ball inside.
It looks like you're having fun out there,
even though you are playing hard
Basketball is fun. And when you are playing it with the best people
in the world, in my opinion, how can you not have fun.
The men's team was here at your game today.
What does that mean to you?
It was nice. We support them; they support us. Even if we're not
at their games or they aren't at ours, we still know we are both supporting
one another. So it was good of them to come.
You play Spain next. What do you expect?
We played them prior to coming to the Olympics. I think we are
kind of familiar with some of their players, but they were missing their
best player, Amaya Valdemoro. With her addition they will be tougher.
They play wth a lot of emotion. We played them in Spain and it was not
a blowout until the end. They are playing really well and have a lot of
confidence, so anything can happen.
What are their strengths?
They have a little bit of everything. They have some post players
who are really crafty. They drive and kick really well. They push the
ball. They shoot the ball. They do a lot things well. They are tough.
Swin Cash (Detroit Shock)
On today's game:
Every game is not going to be easy because teams are going to get
up to against us. They were making some unbelievable shots early but we
kept chipping away and felt that in a 40-minute span, we would be able
to do the things we needed to do to win the game.
On the struggle early:
We weren't communicating at times and had a few lapses but we got
organized and really started playing after halftime. I think we brought
a bunch of energy from the bench and the starters' experience definitely
I was happy with our performance but we are still getting used to each
other. You have to take open looks to get the inside game going and some
shots weren't going early.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
On today's game:
They (South Korea) came out and were hitting those big threes so
we had to make adjustments defensively - we started switching everything
and they couldn't get those shots off. We tried to get through the screens
in the first half but they were too quick.
On the team coming together:
This is only our third game and we have gotten so much better than
when we started out in New York. I think everyone is learning their role
- my is to play defense and rebound. That's one thing I will do - if I
can get an open shot, I will take it but I try to always play great defense.
There are so many different ways for us to win games, we have so much
talent...I think everyone will get a chance to shine here.
On Spain (USA's next opponent)
They are very experienced team and one that will present us with
a big challenge. We just played them in the exhibition season (Team USA
defeated Spain, 77-61, on August 9) so all of us will be familiar with
them. We just need to keep improving, take care of our business and we
will be fine.
Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
Coach did a great job of going to the
bench in the second half. Is it your job when you're on the bench to cheer
for the players who were cheering for you out there in the first half?
Well it's not my job I just think we have good team comradery.
Whether I'm playing or if I'm on the bench I try and help out the other
players playing my position or if you see something information that they
need to know.
How do you maintain focus in a game like
Well easy, I don't think that we look at Korea as the opponent,
basically we are our own competition. So we get out there and try to work
on good habits, whether it's our press and making sure we are rotating
right, or if we're switching we sort of work on our communications Cause
those are the little things that can help us when we get to the gold medal
I think no matter what's going on in the first half, the third quarter
is the key for us to really try and be dominate and I thought we were
just excellent today.
Did you notice when the men's team arrived
during the game?
Actually I did. I was still on the court I was at the free throw
line so it was kind of hard to miss them...I was just hoping I'd make
my two free throws. I thought it was a great effort for them to try and
come over after their practice which is about 40 minutes away. We're appreciative
of their support and obviously we'll come out and support them when we
Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock)
That was an interesting game. This
is your first big international competition, you're first Olympics, so
I gather you were very interested?
Completely. Our team is so deep I know my minutes are going to
be limited but to be here and to be playing in the Olympic is such an
How do you keep your focus to come in off
the bench in the second half like they did?
...you see where they make their mistakes, what's working for them,
and then when you get in the game it's a little easier for you???
What do you think of this team?
We have a good squad, whether it's the best ever I think is yet
to be determined but we have a lot of good leadership and new players
Are thing going pretty much to plan?
I think so. I think we're making good efforts I think every country
is a little different so you have to adjust game by game.
How is the team coming together?
I think we are doing great. Dawn is really the glue to the team out there
as our point guard. The leadership and experience that she has is invaluable.
Just to have her when we need to settle down, she brings us all together
and I think that everyone is pretty unselfish. We are out here representing
our country and we are going to do what it takes to win.
What keyed the 3rd quarter spurt today?
I just think that at halftime we had to step it up defensively.
Giving them 23 points in the first quarter wasn't something we're used
to doing. We just had to come out and be aggressive. We threw on the full
court press, we got some steals and offensively we went at it.
Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx)
On today's game:
They gave us a great shot at the game. We stayed in their and played
good defense, then we started to dominate the boards and started to hum'
in the second half.
On the condition of her injured leg
It felt good. It's my second day on the floor and it felt good.
On her ability to help the US team with her
It just happens. We're going to have to knock down some shots to
win games. Against the team today (Korea), we had to get the ball inside
and then they got it back to us for some good looks. We had some open
jump shots and we're going to have to step up and knock them down. When
we shoot the ball, we have great offensive rebounders who are in there
They're tough. They've got some quickness and they've got some
girls that like to penetrate the lane. They are a solid team and they
are going to come out and be aggressive. We beat them by 20, but we can't
take them for granted.
Can Spain test the USA?
They can. It depends on how we come out and play. I think how we
approach every game, how we come out is the way it's going to go. We have
to be ready to play against them. They are going to be motivated and excited
and they've got some players who can do some work.
Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting)
On adjustments made and success in
the second half of the game
It's going to take a quarter or two, maybe even 25 minutes to get
adjusted to a team and their style of play. Everybody has got to understand,
that if we go down a little to not panic. That's one thing we can't do.
We can't panic. Our coaches can't panic, because for 40 minutes, no team
here at the Olympics has the talent and the depth that we have. We can't
panic in situations like that.
On the play of Katie Smith, she returns and
it helps your 3-point shooting:
She's going to help a lot. She's got to get some shots up. She's
got to get used to shooting the ball in this arena. Not when we're up,
but when the game is tight and somebody is going to pack it in the middle,
like most teams do against us.
On the USA's next opponent Spain
We have to play 40 minutes and pound them. The main thing is penetration
and I think if we do that, it will be a beautiful thing for us. We have
too much depth and too much power for them to defend us. We have to defend
We are going to get tested. I'm not saying what team, what country, but
we will get tested and we will have to rely on our experience and youth
to make some shots for us. We let everyone know, because it's inevitable.
On Lisa Leslie's play:
What Lisa Leslie does ..just inside, outside, rebounding, blocks. She
is just a force. She is the best player in the world.
Do we have the next best player in the world right now? I don't know.
Lauren Jackson is probably the closest thing to Lisa.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On today's game:
I thought today was a really good game for us. We got off to a
pretty slow start in the first quarter. The Koreans were hitting every
shot and playing unbelievable. We came back in the second quarter and
the third quarter. Defensively, (the third quarter) was one of the defensive
quarters we've played in a long time. If we want to go far in this tournament,
that's how we're going to have to play. Our veterans worked hard out there.
Lisa (Leslie), Tina (Thompson), Sheryl (Swoopes) and Dawn (Staley), really
put it on their shoulders to take that game over. I think they did a great
The game was great today. I think we did a lot of good things and every
game we build and learn a little something about each other. Today, we
came out a little sluggish in the first quarter and Korea was hitting
On the team's poor outside shooting:
If you look around, we have great 3-point shooters on this team.
We've got (Sheryl) Swoopes and Sue (Bird), and myself. We have the shooters,
we just weren't knocking them in today. So we had to revert to our inside
game, which is our bread and butter. They weren't coming to start the
game, which sometimes happens. But in the second half we were doing a
much better job of (shooting).
Are you getting better each day?
Yes. And time takes care of that. We haven't had that much of it.
Every game we are building that team chemistry and camaraderie on the
The USA men were able to make the game today
because of their practice schedule today, what did that mean?
They've had a few tough days. But, it's nice of them to get out
here and support us. We have been able to go to their games, we were there
last night and it was a great win. It means a lot for them to come.
On Spain and the continuing road to the gold
We've got Spain next. They're tough, undefeated in pool play. They've
beaten a couple good teams, so it should be a tough game.
They kind of follow suit with a lot of the European teams
drive and kick. They can shoot the three' and they've got a good
inside game with a few big post players who do very well. We will have
our hands full.
Tina Thompson (Houston Comets)
How did you prepare for South Korea?
Yesterday at practice our coaching staff emphasized that even though they
have players with good size, they don't post up much and they will get
as close to the basket as they can where they will just lay it up or kick
it back for a 3-point shot. Those are tendencies that they have. Those
are the little things that pr coaches got from watching tape of them play
and gave us so that hopefully we could stop them defensively.
How much does Van (Chancellor) emphasize
to you to make that extra pass? In the third quarter in particular it
looked like you had a lot of good looks.
We are so unselfish, and you wouldn't think that, having the players
that we have on the team with all of them receiving as many accolades
as they have in their careers. The unselfishness on this team is at a
very high level. Sometimes we overpass and we turn the ball over or pass
up open looks. But that's a good thing. We'd rather pass up open shots
to get a better one than take quick shots and get out of our offense.
How do you view your next opponent, Spain?
I think they are really confident right now. They are playing well.
They have their leading scorer (Amaya Valdermoro) and leader coming back.
I think she makes a huge difference on their team from when we played
them earlier this summer before the Olympics. I think they are going to
be pretty pumped up. We are going to approach that game like we have any
other game and continue to execute our game plan and do whatever it takes
to get a win. I definitely think they are going to be a pretty tough opponent.
What did Van say to you at halftime?
He just emphasized rebounding. We were allowing them too much on
the boards. I think they had something like 6 offensive rebounds in the
first half and that is not something that teams are usually getting on
us. He was pretty upset about that, but not to the point that it was like
a bad thing, he was kind of like getting our attention. Six offensive
rebounds for them is not a good thing for us.
That second five for us..they are so young. They are just everywhere.
They can definitely get things going and they have done that for us. Getting
in the passing lanes defensively and scoring layups.. Vsn was looking
for a spark and something different.
Do you think that you are the most dominant
team in the Olympics, not just in basetball but in any team sport?
Honestly, I think that the great thing about that is that we don't.
And I think that is what allows us to continue to play at a very high
level. We are not being complacent. We are not over-confident.