Additional Quotes >> USA 100, Mali 38
July 25, 2009 - Bangkok, Thailand
USA head coach Carol Owens (Northern Illinois University)
You have to respect Mali. You have to respect the team and how they worked. They're very athletic, they rebound the ball extremely well and we knew that coming in. We wanted to limit them to one shot and I thought we did a better job of that in the second half.
On the USA's effort against Mali:
I thought Kelly Faris came out, she was one of the ones who stood out, who was ready to play. She gave us a lot of things: she rebounded, she hit some key threes for us. Taber Spani hit some threes also, but I think Kelly was probably the player of the game.
Are you pleased with the improvement of the team's 3-point shooting?
Yes, it seems to be getting a little bit better. With Kelly Faris helping us out, Taber and Skylar (Diggins) can shoot the three, Shenise can shoot the three, so I think the more we play the better we are. Our team is getting into the flow of the game in a short period of time, but we have to get better through games.
Were there things you were trying to work on tonight?
We wanted to work on various defenses that we could possibly use against some other teams. We thought this was an opportunity to do that. Also, we wanted to work on a couple of our offenses. We knew Mali was going to play us zone the majority of the game, so we wanted to work on our zone offense and work on our execution. I thought that was important, but we still have a lot of growing and maturing to do.
On Canada, the USA's next opponent:
Just with my experience against them last year, they're going to work hard for 40 minutes. They're gritty, it's going to be a physical game. We know that. My challenge for this team every game is to come out ready to play right from the tip. When we do that, we seem to be a little more consistent, versus coming out flat and having to try to get something going. That's just a sign of a team that's young and still growing.
LaSondra Barrett (Louisiana State / Jackson, Miss.)
Mali is a pretty good team. They started off pretty good. They had a couple girls who were shooting a lot and who were really good at defending shots, but we just kept pushing in transition and got our points off their turnovers. That's kind of what started the game and set the tone from the beginning.
Is it hard to stay focused after getting such a big lead?
After playing China, we had a big lead. We saw how we needed to stay focused after having a big lead. We need to keep our bench into it and our coaches did a good job of keeping us intense and having a lot of energy. It really wasn't that hard tonight to keep our focus.
What do you still need to work on heading into the next round?
Defense and making better decisions with the ball. We need to make fewer turnovers and work on defense because the teams are going to get better each round. We're trying to get the goal, so we have to just play defense. That's what's going to get us the gold.
Kelly Faris (Heritage Christian H.S. / Plainfield, Ind.)
Are you adjusting to the international game?
Yeah, I think everybody's got to adjust. Obviously it's a little bit of a different game and you have to adjust to how the game's called. As a team I think we've gotten a lot better adjusting-wise, playing more team ball. The opportunity's there and we have to keep improving.
Did you have any goals for tonight's game?
We always have to take the opportunities that we have. Even if it's not as talented as a team, we definitely had our goals set. We wanted to keep our turnovers down, hit our free throws and play defense without fouling. That was a big problem we had earlier. Generally looking at how we played, I think we played pretty well. I think we started out a little slow in playing down to a different level instead of keeping our level up, but we ended strong.
On the overall play of the USA team:
I think we've gotten a lot better since the beginning. (The loss to Spain) was a wake-up call for us. Everybody's starting to gel and play a lot better together. We're playing more team ball. It's getting to be more fun. We're all having a good time and making the most of it.
Shenise Johnson (Miami, Fla. / Henrietta, N.Y.)
What were you trying to work on tonight?
We were trying to work on our man to man defense, keep the ball out of the middle, containing them and just basically trying to guard off the bounce, that's something we struggle with.
On her USA teammates against Mali:
Overall we had a great team effort. I thought C, C'eira Ricketts, did a great job on defense. I thought Des (Destiny Williams) did a great job rebounding. Nneka (Ogwumike) always does well. I thought we did a great job overall. I think everybody scored tonight. It was really good.
C'eira Ricketts (Arkansas / Louisville, Ky.)
On tonight's game:
We were mostly trying to work on our zone offense, moving the ball and getting it into the post. Our man to man, switching one through four, we were just trying to work on a lot of stuff because the game wasn't really a challenge. So we were just preparing for our next game.
How difficult is it to not play down to your opponents and play your game instead?
It's kind of hard because the game's not really up-tempo. I just try not to let myself get down to their level and keep playing my game.
You advance to play Canada, Russia and Japan, in that order, in the next round. What do you still need to work on before you face those teams?
We need to box out, rebound, keep Russia off the boards. They have a big man who's really good. We need to play hard and keep our intensity up.
What does the USA team do well?
We push the ball. We keep encouraging each other even if we lose the ball, we still encourage each other to keep playing hard. We stick together all the way through it.
Taber Spani (Metro Academy / Lee's Summit, Mo.)
It looks like you have your 3-point touch back, were you feeling that?
It was just getting through the past week, getting use to the rims, getting use to the environment, everything. It felt good. I started getting the stroke back. They fell in practice earlier. I've been shooting extra. I know it'll come. For this team I'm a shooter and that's what I need to do. So it really felt good to put them in.
Was there something you were working on tonight?
I think the biggest thing was to not let up on the intensity. We need to be focused. Our team is focused on that final goal of hopefully winning that gold medal. So coach has really stressed the fact of not letting down on the intensity. We watched Mali and had that expectation going in, but you can't ever let that expectation turn into how you play. Our intensity level and our energy needed to be really high, so we were really trying to focus on that.
What defenses were you working on tonight?
We've been working on our zone and man and mixing it up. We used it against China yesterday and it was really effective. So we were trying to just fine tune stuff, work on little stuff, tweak some things. I think it was a game where we could work on things while we had the score in hand, but also it was another preparation game.