Additional Quotes >> USA 99, Brazil 67
Washington, D.C. • July 16, 2012
"It's difficult. We had two days of practice with the team, and didn't have Sue tonight. So we're just trying to find each other, trying to learn a little bit about each other.
As Lindsay said and D said, there were moments where we looked really, really good, and there were moments where we really struggled at both ends of the floor. Tomorrow we'll have a quick practice, and then we play the following day. So little by little. Like they said, we'll get to where we need to be, but they're a great group, and we're going to be okay."
On Lindsay Whalen:
“Yeah, there is probably a lot to that. I don't think early on in Lindsay's career she probably got enough respect or enough exposure to let people know just how good she really is. When she was on the World Championship team, I think some people were a little bit surprised, but she grows on you the more you're around here her. She plays great at the World Championships, came back, won a WNBA Championship, And she's gotten better and better every year.
I think the fact that she's able to play that role where she can come off the bench and do whatever you want her to do, whether it's run the offense, score points, play defense, pressure people, she's just a special kid to be around. She's in phenomenal shape, and I would think over the next month, she's going to have a real big impact on our team."
On coaching former Connecticut players:
“Well, we have six instead of eight. We have six that are UConn players, and, yeah, there are two that I wish I had. I won't tell you which two. But it's a unique opportunity that doesn't come along very often.
I don't know that there's going to be another time in the near future that whoever is coaching this team will have an opportunity to coach six of their players. The fact that three of them all played as seniors on an undefeated team and won a National Championship, you couldn't write that story even if you tried to.
For me, it's an unbelievable experience to be in this situation, and a real comfort level that I have with them, and I think they have with me. I don't have to explain to them what I'm doing. So if I don't play Asjha tonight because I'm worried about her foot, even though the Doc says she can go, maybe. But I'm not going to play Asjha because she's not a hundred percent ready to go. And it's like Swin. If I play Swin 5 minutes or 25 minutes, it doesn't matter. If I play Maya 8 minutes or 28 minutes, they understand why I'm doing it.
That's a heck of a comfort level for a coach to have. I'm fortunate. I'm really, really fortunate."
On what he learned about Lindsay Whalen:
“You watch Lindsay play, and you don't get a full appreciation for her until you're around her close-up, with her in practice, and you see some of the things she does. I always knew that she had the ability to get to the basket. I always knew she was one of the toughest kids in the league.
When Lindsay has the ball and she's dribbling it, it's like she's always looking to move the chains. When she's pushing the ball up the floor, there are a lot of people getting out of her way. I wasn't sure she could shoot it from the perimeter. I wasn't sure whether or not she would have the respect of all of these great players because she's not Sue. She's not Diana. She's not Tamika. She doesn't have that kind of reputation. But she's earned the respect of every one of these players and everyone on the coaching staff, for sure."
On meeting with the President and Jen Rizzotti going into the Hall of Fame:
“Yeah, the President is a huge basketball fan everybody knows that. Everybody that's paying attention. He came in to congratulate the players and to wish them luck and he spent probably a lot more time than he wanted to down there just being a regular guy, wanting to know about the team, where we were going, what we were doing next, what the seedings were, who was playing who.
He's got a pretty good grip on what's going on with the Olympics. Some of the players had already met him. Some this was their first time, and he treated every one of them exactly the same. He knew some of them by their first names and some he recognized. One of the great things about meeting the President, this President or any President, regardless whether you voted for him or didn't vote for him or you're republican or democrat or something else, when you're in the presence of the President, you're in the presence of the President.
We had dinner with a bunch of generals Friday night. And you get to shake hands with two four-star generals. No disrespect, but it's a little different than living in Manchester, Connecticut, and saying hi to one of the cops at Dunkin Donuts. It's not the same thing. It's a little different, you know? A little bit different.
So we've had an unbelievable experience the last couple of days that very few people get to experience. As far as Jennifer's concerned, one of the things that I've always thought about Jen was when she was in high school, she played the game in a way that people went to high school girls basketball games, and that doesn't happen a lot and it doesn't happen very often at small places like new Fairfield, Connecticut.
When she came to UConn, she played the game in such a way that everyone wanted to watch her play. Here's a 5'5", 5'6" girl in a ponytail who inspired an entire state to become women's basketball fans. Tells you all you need to know about Jen.
Her senior year, she averaged 11 points a game, I believe, and she was the National Player of the Year, and won the Honda Award as best player in the country. She's 5'5" and averaged 11 points a game. Even now as a coach, she represents all the things that are great in women's basketball. She's probably inspired more young girls to play basketball than anybody I've been around. She deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. She deserves to be in every Hall of Fame. She's in mine, that's what counts."
On Sue Bird's return and Angel McCoughtry's missed dunk:
“First, the good news. Sue, I said, just take whatever time you need and come back when you come back. So she may or may not play in the game in Manchester. We're not sure. She might meet us there. She might meet us in Istanbul. We'll know tomorrow. We'll have a better idea what all of the arrangements are surrounding Sue.
On the other end, Angel's knee is fine. Angel's knee is fine. Her hands are fine. Her ankles are good. Her arms and shoulders are good. As you move up that ladder, things don't become so good. That was the lamest attempt at a dunk I've ever seen in my life, and I embellish things a little bit, but I'm not embellishing things.
What Sylvia did was honorable. I've seen guys miss dunks, and Sylvia has been dunking her brains out in practice. What Sylvia did was an honorable attempt at trying to wake up the crowd.
What Angel did is bring comic relief to the crowd. So I guess they both have their place in the game."
On the game:
“The turnovers were a little uncharacteristic tonight but we know what we have to do to correct them. Overall, we were able to play our style of basketball. By executing early we were able to jump out to a commanding lead. Our chemistry was really nice. Coach worked in a lot of different combinations throughout the game to keep Brazil guessing.”
On the team's size:
“Our team has really good size and it is something we can take advantage of down the road. Our inside presence consists of Sylvia (Fowles) and Candace (Parker) which will be a force in future games. They are very skilled and they want the ball.”
On the team:
“There are some differences between this team and past ones. It’s good to have players who have gone through that Olympic experience or been in the world championships and know what it’s like to play overseas. It’s good because we all have a good idea of what playing international basketball is like. Every single one of us brings something positive to this team so for us it’s just about bringing it all together so we can win this.”
On Lindsay Whalen:
“Lindsay did an awesome job. She knew that she had to step up with Sue (Bird) out. We always talk about when one person goes down somebody is going to have to step up. As one of the only point guards, Lindsay knew she had to take control and she did that for us.”
On team's chemistry:
“We have all of the pieces to the puzzle on our roster to achieve our objective of winning a Gold Medal. The team has the same mindset, every time we come together on the court our mission is to take care of business. Our roster is very versatile, and we have a number of players that are capable of putting the ball in the basket. The chemistry amongst us will take us a long way.”
On playing for USA:
“It means a lot to put on the USA jersey and represent our country. Playing against each other in the regular season, and then practicing with each other every day is a tough transition. When you put the egos aside and come together we can go a long way.”
On the game:
“We still have some things to work on, but we knew that going in. I think we had some good energy out there. We were up and down at times but overall I thought we played a good game.”
On Lindsay Whalen:
“Lindsay played well. This was one of those games that we could get out in transition and she is a smart player. Sue went down and she stepped up so it’s a good sign for us.”
On the game:
“There are definitely some things we can still work on and we want to get better. It was a good start for us though. We will take some things away from this game and continue to build on it moving forward.”
On playing in Washington, D.C.:
“It was great. As the game went on the crowd really got into it. I’m glad we got to put on a good show here in our nation’s capital.”
On the challenge of Russia:
“The one thing about the Russian teams is they know each other so well. They've played with each other since they were eight. There is a group from St. Petersburg, a group from Moscow and some other cities. So they have known each other for a long, long time. The style of basketball they play is just very difficult to play against. A lot of people are sharing the ball. They have a lot of players that can create off the dribble, and they can shoot. When you put that combination together, it gives teams like us a lot of problems.
But we know our strengths: Our size, our athleticism on the wings helps us overcome that. But Russia's always going to be a tough team to beat and a tough team to play against."
On meeting the President and playing for the first time since May 26:
“With the President we talked a little health care, tax breaks (laughing). I felt pretty good, you know. I haven't played in a while, so this is the first time being out there and playing the game.
When you play with someone like Lindsay, it makes the game pretty easy. Just run and she'll find you open. I think I'm on the right path."
On Sue Bird:
“I talked to Sue today. She's doing good. She'll be back with the team as soon as she feels fit, but she'll be there when the real games start. She'll be there."
On how this team compares to past Olympic teams:
“Well, to say better would be disrespecting the '04 and '08 team that are pretty good. I think we have a chance. I think we have the ability and opportunity to put together a month of great basketball. We have the talent; we have the togetherness of liking each other and wanting to be really good. Those are things that a lot of teams don't have. With Coach directing us the right way, it's going to be a very, very special team."
On how the team is coming together:
"Like Lindsay said, we have moments where we look really good and people share the ball and we're in the right spots. But you can tell we've only had two days of practice. But if you peak now, you really don't have anything to look forward to.
So each session that we have in the gym, we have to take advantage of it and get better little by little."
On representing the USA:
"It's a huge honor to be part of the team and to be amongst all these great players like you mentioned. Just wanting to come in and contribute anyway possible and help the team. Any time you're representing your country, it's a huge honor and a big responsibility. Just happy to be part of the team."
On meeting the President:
"It was the first time I ever met him, so that was pretty cool. What he said? He just said represent your country well and make us proud. So I know we'll all take that to heart and go in with that mindset."
On starting tonight:
"I wanted to make sure we came out, got good looks and shared the ball, moved the ball. Be aggressive when the time presented itself. I think it was a good start for us. Got up, pressured the ball, make sure things happen. I think that was the biggest thing coming in and making sure we got good looks."
On how the team is coming together:
"I think we had some good moments. You know, there were sometimes when things got a little had a couple of turnovers. I know we'll work on that and we'll continue to work to get better."