Additional Quotes >> USA 86, Australia 73
London, England ē Aug. 9, 2012
Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
On the Game:
I thought the game was played exactly the we thought it was going to be played terms of the intensity level and physical level of the game and how hard both teams were going to compete. We have played a lot of basketball in the last month and I donít think anyone has played better against us then Australia did in the first half.† That was an impressive display of basketball and we had no answer for that. It was incredible what they did to us. I really have a lot of admiration for them and tremendous amount of respect for them and their coaching staff. I am really proud of the way we responded in the second half, how we came back and did some things that USA Basketball is known for. I am really proud of my players
On Liz Cambage:
She is not even the same player we saw during the 2010 World Championships. She was good but she was not like this. The amount of progress she has made in two short years is quite remarkable for someone that young. She is pretty amazing.
On Maya Moore:
Maya is the youngest players on our team by a lot and this is her first experience at the Olympics and she kind of played the way she did when she was freshman at Connecticut. Every time she touched it, she shot it because then you really donít have to know what to do because you are just shooting. Today she did that and it helped us and it hurt us. Other players reminded her that because she was so hyped up and wanted to play so well. Maya made Maya plays today, a couple of defensive plays, and the strip she got at the high post. When you watch Maya play you have to admire how hard she competes on every possession and that is probably why everywhere she goes there are championships that follow her around because there is just something about her that leads to winning. Hopefully she has one more win in her on Saturday.
On this game being looked at as a Gold Medal Game:
Everybody on the outside always talks about the US and Australia as if we are the only two teams in the tournament that are any good. That is certainly not the case. We knew coming into the tournament that at some point if you want to win the Olympic gold medal that you have to beat Australia. We knew that and whether you have to beat them in the semifinals or the final, it doesnít matter you still have to beat them. The gold medal game is Saturday night. Hopefully our players donít think this was the gold medal game because it was the semifinal game. To Australiaís credit and not a lot of people are talking about it but they are missing a great player. You have no idea what Penny Taylor brings to that team and the difference that she makes on that team. For them to be in a position where they were minus† a player that I respect so much and think is a great player, I think that says a lot about them.
On the performance of Lindsay Whalen:
We talked about that in the locker room after the game. You know, weíve got some players sitting on the bench that are pretty good players and theyíre not great at everything, but theyíre pretty good at a couple things. When Lindsay (Whalen) and Seimone (Augustus) both came off the bench, they did exactly what they are good at. Lindsayís the kind of player that probably doesnít get a whole lot of recognition. Sue (Bird) is one of the best scorers in the world and so is Diana (Taurasi), and Lindsay just kind of was there. But this whole tournament, sheís been great and today Ė more so today in that second half, because we really needed to go on a little bit of a run and it looked like she made three straight baskets. Thatís Lindsay.
On halftime locker room commentary:
You know, thatís kind of a USA thing and even in college. Coaches generally donít go into the locker room until thereís about 10 minutes left or at some point, so you hope you have people in the locker room setting some kind of tone for what just happened and whatís going to happen. Iím not surprised that Sue (Bird), Diana (Taurasi) and Tamika (Catchings) were able to convey to their teammates what happened and what needed to happen. If itís just always the coaches coming in and saying this, that and the other thing, then you know what, itís not going to work. Players have to take ownership of it and with USA Basketball they always have and hopefully they always will.
On the decision to move to a two-three zone in the second-half:
I would love to say that it was really strategic on my part, but it was more out of desperation. We couldnít guard her Ė there was nothing we could do. We had a couple of our bigs in foul trouble, and their two bigs were just killing us. So, we had played it a little bit this tournament and we were actually pretty bad for not having spent a lot of time on it. That and making a couple shots on the other end proved to be the difference.
Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx)
Was it a worry for you when Diana got number four and itís a close call and your down and it looks like it can go the other way at that point?
No, never a worry or pressure, because this team has too many players that can do great things. One play goes down or one player is struggling the next player is there to pick Ďem up .† And thatís the great thing about having a team with so much depth.
Describe the defensive change in the second half?
It was a little disappointing in the first half to let Cambage get in there and literally get the ball under the basket and score as easily as she did so in the second half was about pride and we wanted to make sure any shot that her, Lauren or any one on the court took was going to be difficult and it just ended up being a lot of deflections an a lot of turnovers that led to easy points for us.
On the teamís second half effort:
When Sue Bird has to yell at you about something itís a problem and I think everybody took it personally at the way we defended in the first half. It was very disappointing to see Cambage get easy shots like she did, so they came out and played awesome and the second group just took it upon themselves to be a little more aggressive and put the pressure on Australia early.
On how she felt after hitting several shots in the second half:
Relaxed, just having fun. The energy and everything kind of picked up so it was just a matter of having fun. I had a lot of great looks at the basket; coach drew up an awesome play coming out of the timeout and I just knocked a few baskets down.
On whether she has a preference on who to play for the gold:
Doesnít really matter. Whichever team makes it. of course they are a tough opponent because they made it that far, so we are just going to prepare like weíve been preparing, just a little bit better.
On the reserves sparking the 16-6 run:
Coach talks about it all the time, it could be any player on a given night. Angel McCoughtry has been a great job for us coming off the bench early, and tonight it just so happened to be the Minnesota Lynx and a few players from Connecticut that sparked that fire; and it was a matter of Sue Bird yelling at us in the locker room, which is unheard of. When Sue has to yell at a player itís a problem, so we wanted to come out and bring the energy.
On what said:
Thatís a secret. Thatís locker room talk.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On defending Elizabeth Cambage:
Clearly, Cambage was able to get a lot of deep posts, really just putting our post players on her back and sealing them, which created easy buckets for her, I mean, 19 points in the first half. Obviously, we discussed that a lot. Really, just putting in the work early, not letting her get so deep. And when she did catch it, really helping off, trying to get it out of her hands, make her pass kind of thing. I think Tina did a great job on her. I think Asjha Jones came in, for being undersized, did an amazing job on her and really it was about making her catch it further out.
On how the team handles being down, usually being up so much in these games:
I donít know about anybody else, but I donít win by 40 every basketball game I play. Iíve been down before, Iíve been in close games before. We all have. And there was really no panic. We took what you could probably call Australiaís best shot, 61 percent, one player with basically 20 points in a half. Things couldnít have gone any better for them, and we were only down four. So, we took that as a positive. Obviously, not happy, but we werenít deterred, nobody had their head hanging low or anything like that. We were ready for the next 20 minutes to see what would happen. But, we knew. We knew these games would be like this. Everybody thinks weíre going to be steamrolling. Go look at previous Olympic box scores. Thatís not always the case. Yeah, it happens occasionally, but thatís not always the case.
On Cambage again:
Obviously, that was one of the first things we talked about. Not letting her get deep. When sheís running the floor, doing your work early. Jamming her up early, so she doesnít get that deep. Sheís a big girl, and when she gets you sealed on her back that low, what are you going to do. Itís almost impossible to stop here. Basically, the post players just need to do their work early. They were great in their adjustments. And, of course, we needed to help as well. Itís not one on one in this game. So, we had to help as well, and, offensively, just to take our time. We have so much talent. Nobody should ever have to take a hard shot. It should be open shots the whole game. Just find the open man and let them go to work. But, I thought everybody really stepped up. Seimone, I thought, was huge in the second half. Lindsay came in and did a great job. Asjha on defense did a great job. I mean, you could go down the line. And, thatís where we have an advantage: our depth.
On the Olympic newcomers helping get a lead:
Theyíre not rookies. Weíve talked about this since Day One. These are not rookies. These are not 21-year-old kids who have never played international basketball. And, once again, that is where our advantage lies.
On how they matchup with the remaining two teams:
I see a tough game either way. I see a team in Russia, they tend to, as tournaments go, get better and better. They always seem to peak at the right time. Theyíre not easy to play against. We obviously know them very well. I obviously know them very well, playing in Russia. And Beckyís a pain in the butt, too. They definitely present a problem. And then France is a team thatís also very talented. Probably just as, if not more talented than Russia. They seem to have a buzz about them right now. They seem to be playing with a lot of confidence. Theyíre a team nobody really talked about heading into the tournament, but personally I knew that was going to be a team we might have to face.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
On tonightís game
We came out and I think we were really focused but we knew Australia was going to be a tough team in that first half.† I think we gave them a lot of open looks and you know they just destroyed us. Liz (Cambage), Lauren (Jackson) of course, they just destroyed us.† But we came in at halftime and kind of had a heart to heart amongst each other without the coaching staff just where we wanted to be as a team, and I felt like we were. We came out right off the bat and hit a couple shots. Diana (Taurasi) got into the game and we just kind of got going off of that.
On the run sheís had with Diana (Taurasi) and Sue (Bird):
I think for the three of us, I mean itís definitely been a joy and starting from when we were the youngest ones on the team, to not being able to say anything to getting to 2008 and having a little bit more say to this year being the sole captains of this team.† I feel like the respect that we have for the younger players and having so many younger players that are coming behind us, itís definitely you see the respect there. But I, but I have a lot of admiration for the younger group thatís coming in.† Just the way that they watch us and they listen to us and they follow us, and I think for the three of us and even Swin who was part of that 2004 team, just being able to pass that torch on and teach them about the things that we learned, to show them what USA Basketballís about because weíre not going to be here forever just like we thought Lisa (Leslie), Dawn (Staley) and Sheryl (Swoopes) weíre going to be here forever.† It that torch being passed.
On what was said at halftime:
Well, you all know how Diana (Taurasi) is. [She gave us] a little bit of extra motivation. Each one of us Ė Sue, Diana and I kind of stepped up and talked about taking more pride in our defense. We knew Australia was going to be a tough game coming into it and we knew that we were going to have to have a little bit more focus, but we did not feel like we came out overall as a team. Just getting destroyed by the post players, we have to figure out a different way to defend them. I think that Coach Auriemma switched us to a two-three zone and a lot more full-court press, and I think that knowing that we had each otherís back, defense is what weíre known for. When you have a team that shoots 51 percent in the first-half on you that means that your defense is slipping and we talked a lot about what we needed to do on the defensive end.
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun)
On Team USAís 16-6 run:
We all know our role; we all know what we can do collectively. Itís just a great thing. We just went out there and we stayed patient and we got it done.
On how Team USA responded to the challenge:
Us being pros, playing in different games, weíve all been in this situation before. Collectively, we have a great coach in Coach Auriemma and a great staff; and we had a game plan and that was to stop Cambage and to just be more patient on the offensive end.
On what Coach Auriemma told the team at the half:
We had to stop Cambage (laughter). That was the man thing; she had 19 at the half. So we had to slow her down, stop at her at the free throw line, donít let her run all the way to the block, donít let her get deep in the paint. Little things like that.
On whether this was the toughest game of the Olympics:
Well, we have one more game left fortunately. So, youíre going to have to ask me that after the next game (laughter). But thus far, yes, yes it was.
Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun)
Talk a little but about the effort in the second half and what you were trying to do out there?
I think we wanted to make it tougher for them in the post. In the first half Cambage had 19 points and thatís just way too many.†† She got it around the basket where she was comfortable and we wanted to make her uncomfortable and whatever they got in the first cut that out in the second.
What was the locker room like at halftime?
Probably just a reality check.† They shot 61 percent, but they were only up four points.† So for us that was like a sense that where good, where OK.† We made a ton of mistakes in the first half.† We gave them everything they wanted and they are only up four.† So we realized that we cut a few things out and play smarter and harder, it was our game.
Whatís it going to take to win the gold medal game?
I think just sticking with things.† Itís the gold medal game so itís going to be physical.† We arenít going to get any calls from the referees.† You have to know that going in and when you get hit you got to keep playing.† I think that was big for us in the second half we just stuck with it, we didnít complain too much when something happened we just kept playing.† I think thatís going to be the nature of the game in the finals.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
On opening up the lead in the third quarter:
That was fun. I remember that group, because we were getting after on defense. Seimone would get a tip. Asjha was in the group, too. Try to get a steal. Linsday was pushing it in transition. I think we made some really smart decisions on the offensive end. We ran our stuff, some quick hitters that we knew would get us a good look. And the shots started falling, but I think our defense started it.
On her own performance:
I tried to look for ways to make up, because I know made plenty of mistakes in the first half, so I know I had to play some catch up to make for some of the things I did in the first half. I just try to contribute to my team, whether thatís getting a steal or setting a screen, making sure someone else doesnít get a rebound. And, next game, Iíll do even better.
On the stress level with Australia keeping it very close:
I think we stayed pretty even keeled. I think we got better. It wasnít a case where we panicked and turned on each other. We stayed together. The leaders on the team, the captains, they said what they needed to say. It was right on the money, as far as making sure we set more screens, played harder on defense, just some more things on the offensive end that we needed to be doing, and we came out and did it. Everyone that stepped into the game contributed. I was really proud of Seimone. She came in and did exactly what sheís supposed to do. She used her length, got some deflections, some rebounds, we all got some loose balls, knocked in shots and tried to wear them out.
On Asjha Jones:
She comes in, and she does her job. I have so much confidence in her. Sheís somebody who I think brings a sense of ease to every situation, because she doesnít rush, and always plays within herself, always plays at her pace. Iím not saying itís a slow pace, but she plays in her rhythm, and she makes you play at her rhythm, when sheís guarding you, itís so fun to watch that poise. Thatís the word. She plays with poise. It really made a different for us in that fourth quarter, to really extend the lead. I was really happy that she came in and did that for us.
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
On the game:
I think we knew they were going to come out like that. I think they played a good game, led by Cambage in the first half, but they were shooting 62 percent, so we knew if we just tightened up our defense a little bit they werenít going to make as many shots in the second half.
So, you never doubted that you would win?
I donít think so. I think that all of us remained confident and knew that we werenít playing our best basketball.
What was the difference between Liz Cambage in the first half and the second half?
I think that we didnít allow her to get early position, and also we had a lot more help from the guards in the second half. We made it harder, tougher on the passer and on post plays we did flashes so we made it a lot harder to go (get the ball) in to Liz.
What is it like to play when it is expected for you to win the gold medal?
Itís something that weíre used to doing, so weíre going to continue to, hopefully, have to play like that.
You could become the first team to win five Olympic gold medals in a row. What would that mean to you?
I think weíre all just trying to not be part of the team that didnít win the gold, you know? So weíre all just trying real hard and really playing.
What does playing a game like this heading into the final mean for you?
I think itís good. We would rather this than any other way. I think you learn more about yourself in a game like this than you do when everything is falling and all your shots are going in.
Obviously youíre not going to panic when youíre down four points at the half, but after rolling (to easy wins) in so many games, is the attitude different?
I donít think that the attitude is different. I think itís just focus. Basically, going into halftime, I donít think weíve ever been down in this tournament and in the exhibition games as well. So, I think that we just had a different type of focus and had a lot more to say at halftime.
What was talked about halftime?
We talked about Cambage, and that offensively we were just stagnant. We were going one-on-one a lot, and we canít do that.
What was the mood like?
Everybody was just motivated. D (Diana Taurasi), Tamika and Sue just stepped up and said that theyíre shooting really well, everything that theyíre throwing up is going in, and we just have to make it harder for them with a hand in their face and it will eliminate a lot of those makes.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
I spoke to Asjha Jones and she said a lot of your demonstrative histrionics are just as a means of getting the refs to call what needs to be called. Is she right?
They (messed) me up for a whole possession and then I go like this (presumably gestures). Thatís just the way it goes in European basketball. It doesnít bother me.† I just go right through it.
What were you saying (when you were yelling at the team)?
There were some things that were glaring that we werenít doing that needed to be done for us to be successful. Theyíre a really big team, and if you think youíre going to come down and just play one-on-one against them, youíre out of your mind.
But you werenít supposed to be playing one-on-one against them, were you?
I mean, sometimes you think your advantage is greater than the teamís advantage against someone else. I think that in the second half we showed that our advantage is when we play together and make people, especially your teammates, better. I think we did that in the second half.
Your team seemed to have a lot more assists on made baskets in the second half than in the first.
I donít know if the number was greater but it sure looked different. You have to give credit to Australia. They played tough. They played physical. They get in your way. They do a lot of stuff. In the second half, we did a better job of countering that with some different sets, getting people into different spots, and I think we saw some better things in the second half.
Asjha said that she was pretty sure that you told Coach Auriemma to put her in the game.
I gave him a little nod. At that point in the game, we needed someone to come in and stick Lizzie (Cambage), which, I think, Tina, if there was one person that changed the game, it was Tina taking it upon herself to stop Cambage. And I think Asjha took it upon herself to guard Lauren (Jackson) in a way that made it difficult for her to get some things off.
I think Cambage only hit one shot in the second half, that three-pointer with the shot clock winding down.
Obviously, that was a lot of Tinaís work, but I think it was a chain reaction.
You just amped up your defense.
And sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get into the flow of the game. Everyone wants to, from the jump, come with this crazy energy which, I think we did, but it took us out of a lot of things on the other end. So, I think we just figured out along the way, and thatís what you want. There are no easy games from here on out.
No concern or panic?
I mean, concerned maybe.† But I never panicked. Not once during the game. Panic doesnít really get you anywhere. If anything, we needed to settle down and think the game a little bit more. In the second half, we did that.
If a casual fan was watching, itís a close game late in the third quarter, you picked up your fourth foul. Weíve spoken about depth.
Thatís the beauty of this team. It doesnít matter who is on the court. We just all have to be on the same page, whichever five it is. You saw what Lindsay did off the bench in the second half. You saw what Seimone did, Asjha, I mean, they did a great job for us. Thatís why theyíre here. Thatís why theyíre all here. We have that confidence in each person.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
On the reserves:
Well, when we come in there youíre kind of analyzing whatís going on, you want to bring energy; do what you are good at, do the things that has gotten you this far. I think what you have to do is take your time, work really hard on defense, and let things come to you on offense, and good things will happen.
I think they are a great team. I think they play extremely hard; they have great shooters. They play inside Ė they have Lauren. So I think they are a tough team to play against. Every time we play against them we know itís going to be a really hard game.††
On the second half:
I think the biggest thing was just to come out and play a little harder on defense. I feel we needed to get more pressure on the ball. They were able to shoot open shots. We need to be able to get a hand up, kind of bother them. Once we did those things, kind of extended our pressure a little bit, and made it hard on them to get those easy shots, then we were able to run after that. You know, itís kind of all about stops at halftime. Get the stops and we were able to run and after that it felt like we were able to get a couple of things in transition, a couple of things easier earlier Ė not have to just run halfcourt the whole time.
On what stands out most about this Olympic experience:
Just being on the team, being around this great group of players. Itís been awesome; just enjoyed every day of shoot-around and video and each game and getting ready for each game. I think itís been awesome.††††††