Additional Quotes >> USA 88, Czech Republic 61
London, England • Aug. 3, 2012
Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
On tonight’s game:
It was kind of a tale of two haves. We scored a lot of points and gave up a lot of points. I thought in the second half our defense was really, really good, especially defending the three. I thought we did a good job defending the three the entire second half. Offense isn’t going to be a problem for our team and certainly wasn’t tonight. [Inaudible] When the Czech team got off to a 10-0 start I think that was indicative of how well they shoot the ball and when they go on a role like that they are difficult to defend. We really challenged our guys at halftime to make sure they took away their threes. I think that was a big difference in the game – the way we defended in the second half .
On Maya Moore – she gets her hand on every single ball whether it’s a deflection, a steal or a rebound whatever it may be:
That is one of the reasons why I wanted to get her in the starting lineup and start the game of with a little bit of that. She is just a high energy player. She plays every possession to the end and not everybody does that. So for Maya every defensive possession is an opportunity to get a steal. Every shot is an opportunity to get a rebound. It’s just her makeup. It’s who she is. She has been like that since her freshman year of college. I am not surprised that she is doing what she is doing, because she works incredibly hard at it. As hard as any player I have ever seen at any level ever.
Can you talk about offensively - you missed a lot of shots. Also Diana seemed to get off today – knocked some shots down but defensively she was down on the floor really dictating things to. It seems like you are missing a lot of shots also?
I think that when you get to the Olympic Games shooting percentages can go down – because players have a tendency to rush things. That one possession I think we had six offensive rebounds in one possession and couldn’t make a layup. The offense is going to go up and down depending on the day maybe but I know we are going to go on a couple of runs in the course of the game. We certainly need Diana to play the way she played today because when she does she is able to stretch the team’s defense like nobody else. The Czech team is very difficult to play against. Defensively the only chance we had was just to wear them down. I think that is exactly what happened they got worn down.
On talking to them at halftime and eliminating #15 Eva Viteckova:
I thought it was not just her but the entire team. International teams shoot the three very well especially when they are standing there and you don’t have a hand up. At halftime we spoke about how we were going to defend those threes and what kind of rotations we were going to make, how hard we have to work, to get out there and we did. We didn’t give up a three in the second half. That was a huge difference in the game to go from 38 points in the first half to 23 in the second half. For us is going to be about how well we defend teams. And if we can really defend as well as we did that second half then I think it is going to be very difficult to play against us.
Have you seen some good progression of the team over the last four games?
Yes, there’s lots of things I have seen that I think are getting better. I think some of the changes we made in the lineup tonight I think helped. It wasn’t quite evident right at the beginning when they got off to a 10-0 start. But I think we had one more three-point shooter out there with Maya, Sue & Diana – it’s really difficult for team to figure out which three-point shot they are going to take away. And then when Tina came in she was tremendous. We have said all along we want to keep at it to keep getting better every game and keep improving and I think we have. I think from the first game against Croatia to know we are a much better team.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
Does it help to have a veteran team so when you fall behind early no one panics or gets tight?
On this team I don’t know that it’s anything but that sometimes it takes a little time to get into a flow and I think we’re all mature enough and experienced enough to know that and to not have panic. There was never a moment of panic, not in this game, not in the Croatia game, never, and that’s good thing.
When the defense picks it up and you start getting into transition, that seems to fit this team’s style.
I think with some of these other teams were expected be winning by 20 in the first two minutes and that’s just not going to happen. Some of these teams are very good, well coached, great players. So for tonight what I think you saw was them come out and get a little hot there in the first couple of minutes and then we got back to it defensively which allowed us to score and get some easy baskets in transition.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
Was rebounding a big emphasis for the team tonight?
Yeah, at halftime, that was one thing that Geno touched on, moreso the offensive rebounds. But I felt like as a team, everybody started focusing and we got in there and got a lot of easy offensive boards.
After a slow start, how did you guys turn it around?
From a defensive standpoint, our defense in the beginning, they were hitting shots and it was unbelievable because we were right there. Throughout the whole game, I think our defensive intensity picked up. (In the) third quarter, probably one of the best third quarters we’ve had since we’ve been playing together. Now we kind of got to get it going in the first half, start off the game the same way.
What is it about Maya that she gets her hand on so many balls?
Just being active. That’s something we look for her to do. With me early on, that was kind of what my role was on this team. So it’s good to kind of see her out there doing her thing, both offensively and defensively. Sometimes, you get beat but knowing that you can get your hands out and get arms out and get deflections.
Do you worry about the slow starts?
I wouldn’t say worry. I think it’s more one of those things that we got make adjustments early and make adjustments quick. Right now, we’re in pool play – finishing it off against China on Sunday – but we have to figure out what adjustments need to be made so we can have a better start.
What does this game mean and what’s it mean to represent Texas?
It’s awesome. It’s an awesome opportunity to be here with such great players. Going into this game tonight against Czech Republic, we had a slow start early on but we were able to pick it up. Overall, when I look at the games, that third quarter was probably the most amazing quarter we’ve had thus far … just coming out with the intensity on the offensive end and the defensive end.
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun)
Can you talk about the rebounding of the team tonight and how you dominated that part of the game?
Coach definitely put an emphasis on getting on the O(ffensive) boards. We just have to keep doing that. Syl, Maya, myself and Candace, we just have to keep doing that.
It seemed you took control once the Czech Republic started missing some shots?
We started to be more aggressive on them … try to deny the ball more and it definitely worked.
Were you expecting a tougher match tonight?
Everybody out her is really great. Everybody who made it to this position, to be in the Olympics. Everybody’s great. You can’t underestimate anybody.
Are you already thinking about next week and the quarterfinals?
No. Right now our focus is on China. That’s our next game … that’s where our focus is.
Do you feel good about the camaraderie on this team?
Everybody’s doing fine. There is great chemistry here.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
On the game:
Like coach said as far as the three-point defense which is something that we have been trying to make sure that we lock in on because we know that the team we are playing are such great three-point shooters. That was a good sign for us - the way we responded. I always like when we have a lot of assists on our field goals. That means that we are going to score a lot of points sharing the ball like we do. When we didn’t turn the ball over I thought we executed very well – got the shots we wanted, skipping it inside-out in the zone, Tina [Charles] cutting through the lane off of our zone offense. We got some good things and we took some steps forwards as far as our feel for what we want to do defensively. And offensively.
On how good the team would be if it played together a full season:
That’s scary. I think the last time any of us new what that was like was in college, which is most recent for me. I am still getting used to playing with different teams. This is like my fifth team in a year. I am sure we would be in much better synch – not that I am saying we are not in synch know. I think we are doing a great job. But it is hard to answer that – how good we would be. We would be awesome. I am enjoying every minute that we have with this group right now and I am excited to play on Sunday.
You seem to be getting your hand on every ball defensively right now … what is it about you that allows that to happen?
That’s my job. I think when I get in the game, I just want to cause chaos for the other team as well as I can. I feel like I’ve got some athletic ability and some long arms, quick hands so I might as well use them for good. I try to get in the passing lane, get a tip-in, get a steal and hopefully it will cause some momentum for my team.
On the team coming back from a slow start:
We had a little bit of a tough time getting our shots to go in and the Czech Republic team did a great job of hitting their 3’s which they pretty much did all in the first quarter. There were six of them. We just tried to stay aggressive … don’t get too high, don’t get too low. It’s about how you respond. It’s one thing you learn in school is when the other team hits you, you have to get back up and figure a way to overcome it. That’s what we did.
What was the discussion at halftime that spurred the strong third quarter?
Defense always … keep them in front of us … not allowing them to get what they want. When they’re on offense, pressure them so we can wear them out as quickly as possible because the depth of our team is our strength. That’s what we did. We stayed aggressive. We just come in waves. Whoever is in the game is expected to go 100 percent and when we do that, that’s when runs happen.
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
How do you guys feel right know?
I think we feel good. Obviously I think we’ve got our team chemistry down and we’re playing well.
You guys have one game left in the qualifying draw against China how do you prepare for that?
I think, go back to the drawing board, have practice tomorrow and figure out what we can do against the Chinese National Team that is playing really well.
On being down 10-0:
We know that our starts have been a problem for us and giving up threes has also been a problem both happened at the beginning. I think that we definitely came back and regrouped [inaudible] We were able to outscore them buy twenty
When you guys were down by 10, your demeanor never changes – not panic or concern. Talk about the confidence that you guys have:
I think we definitely have confidence. We definitely have a sense of urgency as well. We don’t want to be too relaxed and stuff like that. We definitely want to prevent that from happening.
The defensive intensity certainly picked up tonight I thought – talk about that:
It definitely picked up. Obviously the Czech Republic is a great team. They have great guard play. It definitely picked up from across the board.
Talk about how as you go know moving along it will be getting more intense – going to be more of a challenge.
We are going to be challenged for sure. But I think we are up for the challenge. Everybody 1-12 is ready.
On the prospects of going 5-0:
It will be nice to go undefeated in pool play – to put ourselves in great position going into the Quarterfinals.
On how good this team could be if you were together longer:
I like to think that we would be amazing, but obviously we have to deal with what we are dealt. And we have always had this amount of time together – it’s never been any different. So this is all we ever know.
Is it almost like an all-star game in a certain type of way?
In a way but it is ok. We are used to it. We have all played USA Basketball before.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On Lindsay Whalen:
She’s so gritty … kind of whatever you need her to do that possession, she does. You wouldn’t say she’s a great shooter, she’s not quick, she doesn’t jump very high, she’s not a great ball handler but whatever you need her to do at that time, she’s the best at it. I’ve been one of her biggest fans since the Minnesota days when we played against her in that Final Four. She’s a great player. She does a lot of great things on the court.
On Maya Moore:
Long arms help. Physically, she just puts so much effort into the game on that side where she takes a lot of chances and kind of makes up for it. That helps your teams in a lot of ways to cover up a lot of mistakes and today she was great at that again.
Did the defense pick up after falling down 10-0?
Yeah, we changed some things. Czech is a great team. They made it to the Finals of the World Championships. We’ve been battling against them for a long time. We know what quality players they have. Teams are going to have good quarters. You’re not going to shut anyone out in this tournament or else they wouldn’t be here. We did some things to adjust to what they were doing really well.
You struggled shooting the ball early in this tournament, how did you find our rhythm tonight?
I really didn’t focus on it much. I’m trying to do other things. On a team like this, scoring is probably the least of anyone’s concern because we have so many great scorers. You really have to do a lot on the other side of the basketball so I’ve been more trying to do those things and then today I got some good looks. Sue found me a couple of times and they went in.
On Tina Charles:
I just spent eight months were her overseas playing. She’s just a battler. She works hard every possession. She makes the team work really hard. She stays in her lane and does what she does really well and is not trying to do anything else, and that the beauty of her game.
Is this team where it needs to be at this point?
I think we’re ramping up. I think you see every game people feel a little more comfortable, feeling like they can be a little more assertive in the things Coach wants us to do. And its going to take time. We have one more game to sort of get things together.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
On tonight’s game:
I think after the first couple of minutes we were able to really get things going. They came out and made some shots and then once we got a couple of shots to drop we came out and we got after it. Everyone gave a great effort and did everything they could to get the win and I feel real proud of everyone tonight.
Even when you were down 10-0 your demeanor never changed:
You don’t want to get down, but also you play a lot of games and you just have to stay focused and concentrate on how much you need to do for the rest of the game. I thought once we made our first shot we kind of eased in and were able to comeback and by halftime have a 10-point lead. Sothat was good.
Your defensive intensity certainly picked when you came in:
I just tried to bring energy, jut try to be disruptive on the ball, do whatever I could to make some plays happen on that end and I wish we could have finished a few more layups, but that’s always something to work on for the next day and we’ll make sure we work on that, focus on that in the next practice.
It was a very balanced attack for scoring, talk about how everybody on any given night can come out and be big for you guys.
That’s a great thing. We have a lot of people that can shoot the three, get to the basket and on any given night it can be a different player. I thought tonight was another case of that and we’re just happy to have gotten the win.
How do you feel going into the game Sunday against China?
I feel good. We’ll enjoy this one tonight and then get back at it tomorrow in practice and prepare for Sunday. It’s an afternoon game so we’ve gotten kind of into this routine where we’re playing at 10:15 p.m., but now we’ll adjust back to playing in the afternoon and we’ll be ready to go.