Additional Quotes >> Ros Casares Valencia 80, USA 76
Oct. 5, 2011 • Valencia, Spain
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
On tonight’s game:
The way we started the game, we put ourselves in a hole. We were climbing uphill right from the beginning because of some questionable shot selection on our part and a couple mistakes we made defensively. And, they’re a really, really good team playing on their home floor.
They started the game off great and we got that big deficit. It kind of took a lot out of us, but then in the second quarter we came and started to get a better flow offensively. We started to become a little more aggressive on the defensive end. We started to attack them a little bit more. We stopped putting them on the free throw line. They had 11 of their first 31 points from the free throw line.
When we came in at halftime I thought, ‘wow. We didn’t play that well and it’s only a two-point game.
On Ros Casares’ third quarter run:
The first five minutes of the third quarter were exactly like the first five minutes of the game, it seemed like. Quick shots, people getting way ahead of ourselves, not wanting to make the next pass, make the next cut. Everybody was in a hurry to score and I thought that and the turnovers, we must have had four or five turnovers in that stretch. They’re such a good team offensively. They can score from anywhere on the floor, so if you don’t get a quality possession every time down the floor, they’re gonna get one. You know that for sure.
It’s okay if you get down that much in the first half, because when you’ve got 35 minutes left in the game, you’ve got plenty of time to come back. But now you do that in the first five minutes of the second half and now there’s only 15 minutes left, it’s just not enough time against a really good team. As well as they played, we made enough bad decisions on both ends of the floor and they capitalized on them. When we played them in Italy, they didn’t do that. We may have made the same exact number of mistakes, but here they’re at home and the comfort level, they took advantage of it.
On Brittney Griner’s play in the second half:
One of the things we talked about was that if you’ve got somebody like Brittney Griner, you have to go to her. You have to use her. Otherwise you might as well have another 6-2 kid running around. So, it wasn’t until later that it dawned on all of us, hey, throw the ball in there every chance we get. Our possessions got better and our rhythm got better because we were forcing them to defend us in the lane.
We played a really, really good team and Brittney, offensively, was really, really good again. She’s been really good every game. Defensively, playing against somebody like Ann Wauters is not easy. It’s not easy for an experienced pro, much less a kid who’s never played international basketball before. I think she learned a lot, because she saw something in guarding Ann Wauters that she hasn’t seen in two years of guarding anybody in college.
Brittney Griner (Baylor University)
On tonight’s game:
It’s their home court, so we just needed to come out as a team. I feel like we did come out as a team, but we were kind of used to having the lead in the other games we played. We didn’t have the lead in this one and we were trying to scramble the whole game, trying to find a way to get baskets, to get stops. This was good, though. This was good for us. Whenever you lose, you learn a lot in film and then just being out there was a good learning experience for me.
You scored 16 of your 22 points in the second half. Did you make any adjustments in the second half?
Every time they got me the ball, I would face them, post up strong, take my time. As far as guarding them in the second half, I just tried to beat them to the spot and alter their shot instead of running at them as they run past me.
What can you learn from this game?
Just to stay strong through the game. Listen to coach and come together as a team.
Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun)
On tonight’s game:
We had a good amount of unforced turnovers and we missed a lot of layups again. What they did do differently was to execute better. They never really got rattled. Even when we came on our runs and started to come back, they never really got rattled.
Did the USA get rattled when falling behind by double digits?
I don’t think in a bad way, but there are people who can take over a game. When that happens, they’re like, ‘alright, let me help my team get a bucket.’ That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when it’s not working it seems like a bad thing. So I think at that point, especially here with USA Basketball, we all have to constantly play a team system instead of more so trying to take over the game.
Have you ever played a zone defense almost the entire game like you’re doing on this tour?
Man, I have not. It’s pretty tough. Especially zones where there’s different schemes, and then playing it with players you haven’t played with. So, that’s difficult, but even with that adversity we still had a shot to win it.
Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty)
How difficult is it to play a really good team on their home court?
It’s tough losing, no matter what. Valencia has been playing together a long time. They just lost to us a few days ago, so they had a little edge to them. We came out a little unfocused as a unit. We’re shorthanded, so anytime we come out unfocused, it’s hard for us to win any game. No matter who it is. Going into the next game, it has to be our focus.
How bad does foul trouble hurt the team in a game like this?
We only have eight players and five are allowed to play at one time. When one or two or three are in foul trouble, it kind of hurts all of us. That needs to be our focus: playing smart. We have a good group of girls who are smart and mature. Brittney (Griner) is the only young one, besides D-Rob. Besides that we have a mature group and it’s something we need to work on.
On Britthey Griner’s second-half scoring:
I think she got confident. She really wanted the ball and demanded it. She knows and everybody around her knows that if you get it to her, she’s hard to stop. She’s so big. She’s agile. She’s strong and she’s very skilled. Going into the next game, it’s definitely something we have to focus on, giving her the ball earlier and allowing her to kind of get us going.
What is it like to play zone the entire game?
It’s tough, especially because it’s not something you naturally do. But, you have situations like this and coach is probably trying to test out his defense, probably trying to test us out at the same time. Trying to find out whether we can stay with it and get it done. For the most part I think we’ve done some good things with it. Going into the next game we have to learn and get better in certain areas.
Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars)
What kind of positives can you take away from this loss?
Nobody likes to lose, but losing has a quality about it that makes you go back and reevaluate things. When you win, you pretty much think that everything’s perfect. Then when you lose, it makes you see that there’s still stuff that you’ve got to work on.
On tonight’s game:
I thought today we came out a little bit dead, a little bit slow, so they came out on top of us throughout the beginning of the game and the second half. That’s something that we have to learn. We have to start the game better. Whether it’s the beginning of the game or going into the second half of the game. They’re a great team, so we have to give them credit. We have a lot of individual good players on this team, but we still have to work on playing together well.
On Brittney Griner’s second half:
Oh yeah, coach said it best. After the game he said that Brittney’s the only player we have on the team that can dominate everyone. She’s 6-8, she can dunk the ball over anyone in the world, really. So, we were trying to get the ball to her a lot. I thought we could have gotten to her a lot more. But, obviously everybody’s trying to make the team and everybody’s trying to put their best effort out. I thought she did a great job, I have to give her credit. That’s something that we can learn going forward in the future, get the ball inside to her more. Obviously it’s good for her, going into her college career this season.