April 11, 2007 Rome, Italy
head coach Anne Donovan
On the differences between the halfs:
We talked defensively about how to defend them a little bit better with
all the screening action that was going on. We calmed down a little bit
more. I thought we executed our offense better in the second half, we
started to hit some more shots. I don't think we hit much from the outside
in the first half at all, so in the second half we had a lot more confidence.
We calmed down, hit a few of the outside shots to go with what Taj was
Did you expect the change
to be so immediate after halftime?
No, I don't think I expected it to be like that. We had a 14-0
run. We came out and we really played well on both ends of the floor.
We tried to pick up the ball a little bit, play smarter defensively and
we got our offense in synch at that point, too. We were able to break
it open. I expected us to do a little more damage in the first half than
we did, but in the third quarter we really stepped it up.
What are your thoughts on some of the younger
or non-USA Basketball veterans tonight?
Our post game is going to come together. We have a lot of youth
in our post and a lot of size in our post. Outside of Taj, it's something
we really didn't take advantage of tonight. I'd like to see us get more
comfortable and utilize the rest of them. Offensively, I thought that
in the second half, that's when we did a much better job of finding the
open man and knocking down the open shot. I'm really pleased with how
they came together. I think that's evidence of the fact that the more
we play together the better we're going to get.
How difficult is it to face a team you've
really never seen? Not just tonight, but as we continue to play?
Napels will be different for us because we're not really sure of
their personnel at all. At least we had a good idea of a couple of the
players on the Italian team. These kids are great players, they're here
for a reason. They adjusted tonight in the second half, they got use to
what players were doing what, trying to take away their strengths in the
second half and we'll do the same thing tomorrow.
Cash, Detroit Shock
On the team working the jitters out
in the first half:
You know, you have a couple days to learn a whole new set of plays
and get prepared. In the first half I thought we were trying to figure
it out. In the second half we came out with a lot of energy on the defensive
end and that helped us with our offense.
What did you think about some of the younger
I think they did a good job. The great thing about them is that
even when they make a mistake they want to learn and they want to figure
it out, learn from the mistake and go out there play hard. That's all
you have to do, play hard and everything else will fall in line.
Catchings, Indiana Fever
On the differences between the first
and second half:
I thought that in the first half we came out and you could tell
we were a new team, a young team, and we just didn't play to our potential.
I think some of the young players were a little nervous, more nervous
than the older ones. We came out in the second half after talking in the
locker room about USA Basketball and getting after it on the defensive
end. We did a great job on the defensive end in the second half and our
shots were going in so that always helps.
What did you think about Sylvia Fowles'
I think she did a great job. One of the things we need from our
post players, and we really struggled with this at the World Championship,
was our post performance. Height is obviously a factor in it, but also
athleticism. She got on the boards, she was able to put some back in,
she was a strong presence down low and that's what we need. She set a
precedence and now I'm going to expect that at every game!
Davenport, New York Liberty
On the differences between the first
and second half:
I think it took us a little while to get everybody on the same
page. But once we did we did a better job of communicating and working
How did it feel to go up against someone
else instead of your teammates?
It felt good. All week we've been getting beaten up by each other
so it was good to be able to get that aggression out on somebody else.
Fowles, Louisiana State University
On her game tonight:
In talking to the veterans I knew I had to go out there and be
physical. Especially playing on this level, you're going to get knocked
around a little bit so you have to just go out there and help your teammates
out, especially defensively. If they're banging, you have to bang as well.
Do you think it helped to have played last
year with the USA Senior National Team, in terms of the jitters of getting
out on the floor?
I think it helped when I was here last time. But I still have some
jitterbugs in me. But I've been getting comfortable being on the court,
learning from everyone and going through plays and that helped me calm
down a little bit.
What was the difference between the first
half and the second half?
Just taking care of the ball, make sure we're getting on our help
man side, make sure we have each other's back and we're talking on the
floor. That's what we changed in the second half.
What are you going to work on for tomorrow
Talking more, getting on the same page, knocking down those outside
shots, finishing shots and pressuring the ball.
McWilliams-Franklin, Los Angeles Sparks
On the sluggish first half:
I think we had some issues with the chemistry in the first and
second quarters, some focus issues. Especially on defense. I don't think
we were trusting enough of each other so we were trying to play it safe.
We sat down at halftime, coach talked about our defense, our help side,
rotating on transition, and I think starting the third quarter with the
switch it made us more aggressive, players weren't just laying back or
waiting to get picked. I know for myself and for Catchings, we can do
that and do it well. Switching really helped us get more aggressive and
we pulled away after that. And after that it was just about staying focused
and putting the hammer down on them.
How important is it for you to come out
here and play strong every night?
It's definitely important. Being the oldest player here, I take
a lot of pride ... I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure, especially
as a post, to establish a presence. I know I'm probably the smallest post
playing here and they're all younger. The closest player is about nine
years younger than me. That in itself is a lot of pressure and I want
to make sure I establish myself down low, even if it's only three minutes,
but play strong so that then next person coming in can keep it up.
On what to expect from the Napels team
They split their whole team up a year ago and I'm not really sure
what they have. But like any other Italian team, they're going to have
some great mid-range shooters. They're always good off the dribble and
their mid-range game is impeccable so we're going to have to talk a lot,
do a lot of screen rolls. Especially us bigs, we're going to be forced
to move. Not many Italian players have many tall, tall slow players. Their
bigs are all mobile, they can shoot, they can put the ball on the floor,
so it's going to be a challenge for us bigger players. But it's a challenge
we can take.
Smith, Detroit Shock
What did Anne Donovan and her coaching
staff talk about to you at halftime?
I think we got a little more comfortable, but we also started to
switch on defense. They set a lot of picks, a lot of good picks, they
have post players that can shoot the ball. But once we started switching
and communicating they really had a tough time getting good shots. We
contested and rebounded a little better, limited their transition for
the most part in the second half.
In the third quarter Italy shot 2-of-14
and had five turnovers. You really picked up your defense:
Yeah, more pressure on defense, taking care of the basketball,
getting back and making it tougher for them. We weren't taking gambles,
we were playing solid and making them take tough shots, getting rebounds,
that kind of thing.
What do you still need to work on in the
Consistency. You're not always going to shoot the ball well, which
we showed today, we have to hang our hat on the defensive end. We can't
allow them to make easy buckets. If they hit a tough shot, they hit a
tough shot, we can't put them on the free throw line and we did a good
job of that today. But good buckets, not letting them get easy buckets.
I think the defense is the key. Offensively we'll be alright if we keep
our spacing. Defense will save you if you have a bad day on the offensive