Additional Quotes >> USA 106, Spain 70
Oct. 2, 2010 • Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut
On todayís game and looking back at the USA's 2006 semifinal loss:
I donít know what their experience was like when they lost, what their emotions were like. But Iím sure anytime you play for a World Championship and you expect to win like we do when we go into these tournaments and you lose, it stays with you a long, long time. The players were determined that that didnít happen tonight. I know Spain didnít have their whole team, and itís unfortunate that they were missing some players. You hate to see that happen, that a team is dealing with injuries.
I thought we played really, really well on offense. Our defense got better and better as the game went on. Weíre about as ready as we can be going into tomorrow night.
Tomorrow nightís going to be one of the most difficult challenges for this team. Youíre playing the Czech Republic on their home court, with all their fans, in kind of a Cinderella run for them to get to this point. I think the emotions and the energy in this building is going to be a great place to be tomorrow night. Iím looking forward to it.
What did you say to the Czech coach after the game?
I met him for the first time last year in the tournament we were in last year in Russia. We talked a little then. Last night when they won, I thought it was an unbelievable win, a great win for them last night. We talked again today at practice, because we came in after them. He was just so excited and so proud of his team, and I told him I was really happy for him. Some of those girls that are playing for him played against us when I brought a 19-and-under team here. I told him, ĎIím so happy you won Friday night, and I hope you win Saturday night. But after that, thatís it, no more.í I have a lot of respect for him. I think heís a great coach.
On playing the host team in the finals with the crowd:
I know that the USA Basketball people that were with the men in Turkey said that the final game against the Turkish National Team was about as good an environment as they have been in ever. They said it was an incredible experience to play in front of that many people cheering for their country. You have two things going on tomorrow. The Czech Republic is playing for the World Championship on their home court in front of all their fans who love them. Even better, theyíre playing against the United States of America, so itís not like theyíre playing against just anybody.
How does this compare to other championships?
When you win championships, theyíre all meaningful. Theyíre all special. Thereís something to be said about Ö you know you win the Big East championship or you win the national championship at home, but I think thereís something special about winning a world championship. Even if youíre playing in the WNBA, youíre not world champions, youíre champions of the WNBA. If you went out and then played the champions from around the world, it would be similar.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On tonightís game:
Weíre very excited about this. For the few of us who were here in Brazil, this is where we fell short last time. To come out and play the way we did, Spain was a great opponent. But for us, weíre very focused and right now weíre one step away from where we wanted to be a couple years ago. Hopefully we can redeem ourselves.
What do you think itís going to be like in the arena tomorrow night?
Itís going to be very hostile. Just sitting and watching their game, you could barely talk to the person next to you. I know itís going to be really difficult. But itís fun, you know? Everybody on this team has played overseas, and in Europe what you find is smaller arenas, louder fans and crazier fans. Iíve actually played in the Czech Republic for big games, and thatís what it was like. It was very, very difficult. Itís going to be hard. Itís going to energize their team and itís going to put pressure on our team, but I think weíre all looking forward to it.
Can you compare the hostility felt in Brazil in 2006 to here in the Czech Republic?
Itís nothing like that. Brazil was tough. When we were playing, it seemed that whether they were from Russia, Lithuania, it didnít matter, they were cheering for every team we played against. Then getting on the bus was actually difficult at times with people yelling things and saying things. That hasnít been the case here. At all. Itís been very welcoming here, and weíve had a great trip every city weíve been to.
How important will it be to get off to another great start tomorrow with the crowd noise thatís expected?
I agree. What I was trying to allude to earlier with the European arenas and fans, especially in this situation. You can play in a lot of games, whether it be the WNBA or in college, and not the entire building is going to be cheering against you. There will be our little section and thatís it. Iím sure everyone wants to see an upset, so in terms of getting off to a good start, itís going to be very important. It could be one of the keys to the game.
How does this compare to other championships?
Each championship, whether it be because of the team youíre on, the people youíre doing it with, they definitely have different meanings. Whenever you put the USA jersey on, thereís something to be proud of. Youíre representing your country, youíve been selected as one of the top 12 and youíre competing against other countriesí best. When thatís happening, thereís a lot of emotion, a lot of intensity, and I think there is something about that thatís very, very special. Thatís not to take away from other championships, but I have to say the thing thatís going to make this even better is, I know thereís only three of us from that team in Brazil, but thatís probably one of the worst nights of my career. I donít think Iíve ever really fallen short that way before. It stuck with me, and I think it stuck with everybody that was there. This is our chance to get rid of that terrible taste in your mouth.
Swin Cash (Seattle Storm)
On playing host Czech Republic in the finals:
Itís going to be crazy. Iíve played some championship games with some crazy fans.† Just to hear them tonight, I couldnít even hear myself think. I donít even think we know what to expect from the fans tomorrow either. Itís great to be playing them.
You started off strong and then continued to build. Is that what you were looking to do?
Coach has been big on not only having a good start, but bringing a lot of energy off the bench. So, I know and really understand that thatís one of my roles, is to really be effective coming off the bench. Having high energy level on defense and offense to be in attack mode and hit the offensive glass. We have a mix of young and older, veteran players coming off the bench and I think that really helps us sustain our energy and take it to another level.
Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky)
Was the game as easy as you thought it would be?
No, it wasnít easy. You have to go out there and be focused, but at the same time coach was on our butt, and he wants us to do exactly what he said to do. It was hard at times, but at the same time we were just playing USA Basketball.
You make it look so easy.
Thatís funny that you say that. We havenít been together that long. Itís all about trust and trusting these girls out there while youíre out there on the court with them. You just have to go with your gut feeling, go out there and play.
Are you looking forward to playing the home team tomorrow for the gold medal?
Thatís what weíre here for. We prepared the whole time to come here to play this game, with their crowd, on their floor. Itís going to be very interesting. Weíre looking forward to it. Itís going to be hard, but weíre willing to work for it.
Are you preparing any special tactics for this game?
Nothing special. We just have to go out and play the way weíre capable of playing. Weíre going to play our game.
On the aggressive play of the USAís post players:
Compared to a lot of people, weíre small. Coach always stresses to go out there and give it everything that you have. You just have to give 110 percent until you get tired and he pulls you out and put someone else in.
Did the 3-point scoring get started with the post play and enabled the perimeter to open it up?
Most definitely. When you going inside-out, it gets you going. But I think most definitely our defense set the tone on the other end. Once our defense is going, our offense just gets flowing on the other side.
Maya Moore (University of Connecticut)
Is this the way you wanted to head into the finals, with a good 40-minute game?
This was pretty close. I think the point where you really want to feel good putting all the pieces together, everybody being pretty comfortable with their role and your teamís moving and flowing and gelling together. I feel thatís where we are.
Eight games in 10 days so far, are you ready for this?
I think weíre good. The way weíve been able to share minutes, the way the first group comes in and the second group comes in and brings as much energy or more. It really helps us to keep everybody fresh. Thereís no room to be tired anyway at this point. Itís all mental. Weíre going to go in and leave nothing.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On tonightís game:
We came out in the first quarter and set the tone early. Theyíre a tough team. They made some good plays to stay in it, but our depth outlasted theirs today.
Was the 2006 World Championship semifinal loss in the back of your mind a little bit?
No, not really. When things are in the past like that, I donít try to think about it. Itís a different group with a different mentality. So I donít think about that at all.
The last time you played in the Czech Republic with a USA Basketball team was in 2001 at the FIBA U19 World Championship and you lost to the hosts in the semifinals. Do you remember that?
Yeah, itís like our 10-year reunion with them. We lost to them in the semifinal game with the juniors. They have four or five guys from that team. Coach and I remember that. Itís going to be interesting to go out there tomorrow and maybe redeem those demons that got us last time.
Youíve won everything else in the world, but not a FIBA World Championship:
Yeah, not a World Championship. We talked about it with a lot of the other players. You know, a World Championship might be the hardest one to win. When you talk about nine games in 11 days, that really tests a team and individualís character. We have to go out there and play really well.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
On todayís game:
We had a good game plan coming in. We fought hard. We tried to get going right away from the beginning. We got off to a good start. We just tried to come in and play hard. I think it was a good game for us. We got some things done, and now weíre in the championship game.
On playing against the Czech Republic and some of her teammates in the gold medal game:
Itís going to be a really fun atmosphere. Itís going to be a really great crowd. The Czech team has done a great job in this tournament. Theyíve really played hard, played well, theyíve made timely shots. They left everything on the floor every night. You can see how hard they are playing, and tomorrow we just have to come ready, come focused, be intense and be ready for the challenge.
Will you say hello to your Czech teammates before the game?
Probably not, no. Iíve seen them almost every day of the tournament. We see each other in the hotel, and Iíve talked to coach a couple times. Theyíre all doing well. Theyíre all playing great. It looks like theyíre having a lot of fun.
Have you prepared any special tactics for the final game?
Weíre going to play our game, play hard and definitely be ready for the Czechs tomorrow. Weíll have a game plan and be ready. Weíre just going to focus on playing hard and doing what we need to do to come out, play hard and play well.