Additional Quotes >> USA 76, Russia 53
July 22, 2011 • Puerto Montt, Chile
Jennifer Rizzotti (University of Hartford), USA head coach
What was the difference in your team’s play today?
We came out with much better intensity on the defensive end today. We were able to take advantage of our depth and athleticism and get a lot of points off of our defense.
Did you think the result would be like this?
I kind of did, because we let them have it a little bit yesterday. Just in terms of not judging ourselves by winning, but more about how we played. We didn’t feel good about we played yesterday. We were much more individuals and a lot less like a team. We challenged them to defensively be a lot better, to trust each other and to find a way to be more of a selfless player. I thought we looked like a much better team today than we did yesterday.
Is that the identity you want from this team?
Absolutely. I want this team to win because of their defense. I want them to pick up and I want them to disrupt people. I want them to dictate what other people have to run. I thought they did a much better job today of dictating what Russia did, rather than reacting to what Japan did, like they did yesterday.
On her team’s rotation:
It had a lot to do with the fact that we had a big lead, but I also thought that everybody’s intensity was good. There was no drop-off when I substituted off the bench. I had a lot of confidence in all the players from one to 12. I felt like it really didn’t matter who I had out there, our defensive intensity was great.
On Stefanie Dolson’s defense:
She’s probably averaging a point a minute because she’s not playing a lot because of her fouls. But, she made (Ksenia Tikonenko) work pretty hard today. Although she got into foul trouble and didn’t play a lot, she kept her from getting in the flow. Again, we were able to get our depth to disrupt her. (Tikonenko) is a phenomenal player and I thought we did a great job defensively on her.
We had a chance to play them last year in the FIBA Americas (U18 Championship). They really understand watching Brazil, Argentina and Chile, some of these teams in this region and how passionate they are playing for their country. They saw Italy win today and how excited they were. They get it. Although they’re used to winning, they do respect their opponent. We’ll have a chance to come back here in a little bit and watch Argentina a little bit this afternoon and get ourselves ready and as prepared defensively as we were today.
Do you think you’ll be 3-0 after tomorrow?
I hope so, but we don’t take anybody for granted. If we come out with the same intensity that we did today, we should be able to finish 3-0.
On the USA’s defense:
We played a much better team defense today, so we were rotating better. After the first few minutes we were defending better without fouling. Our rebounding effort was great.
(Mater Dei High School/Irvine, Calif.)
The team improved a lot from the first game, but what still needs work?
Rebounding, just staying after it. We’ll get a couple rebounds, but then let them get a few rebounds. We need to dominate the boards. We’ve been good at rebounds, but we haven’t quite dominated yet.
The starting five seemed to wear down Russia and then your next five is able to pull away. How important is it to have depth like that?
If you were watching the game today, they were worn down before the end of the first half. They were tired and it’s nice to be able to go so deep off of the bench. People get rest. We get fresh legs in there and they keep it up. There’s no let off.
On the play of some of her teammates:
Breanna (Stewart) did really well. Diamond (DeShields) played really, really well today transition-wise and just attacking. Their transition D wasn’t the best and she just went at them every single time. Bria (Hartley) always shows up to play. Ariel (Massengale) did really good on defense today as well and E (Elizabeth Williams) was being really big in the post.
What do you think you’ll see from Argentina tomorrow?
Maybe a trap or a press. We saw them play Russia and Russia couldn’t handle it. They were trying to take them out of their offense and I think that’s what they’re going to try and do. They may try and double, because their size doesn’t match up with ours. They may try to double in the post and make us shoot outside.
(Norcross High School/Norcross, Ga.)
On the USA’s game against Russia:
The game today, apparently there’s a long-time rivalry with Russia that Carol (Callan) and Coach Rizzotti were trying to warn us about. They take a lot of pride in the game that was about to (be played). Since we haven’t been a part of previous years, we had to hold up the tradition and come out as hard as Russia did. It was more a mental thing in the beginning. Defensively, the team came together really nice. The help side was there, everything was good, so we got to pull out the win.
What’s the difference between the way the USA played today and yesterday?
It was effort. It’s really not too hard, it’s the mentality of it all. It’s really simple. Yesterday we were kind of doing a lot of one-on-one stuff, because it was a different type of team. So we felt like on-on-one was the way to do it. But really, if you just bite down and play as a team, everything is much easier.
How important is the USA’s depth in a tournament with nine games in 11 days?
It’s important to have depth. Not only so you can get a rest, but you know that if you have a sub coming out, you know they’re going to pick up right where you left off. Everybody on this team has talent and is just as talented as each player on the team. So the amount of talent we have on this team is really good to be able to have subs come in and finish the job. We all just trust each other.
Were you surprised at how lopsided the game was?
No too surprised. We knew that the pressure was big, but we did rebound alright. We’re doing better each day. Compared to yesterday we rebounded a lot better, but we’ve still got to get better.
What do you expect to see from Argentina tomorrow?
Very aggressive play. Argentina, they tend to foul a lot and they tend to grab and hold. We have to stay strong down low, especially, and be able to get rebounds. They’re a smaller team and a faster team, so we’ve got to be able to defend on the perimeter and get rebounds.
Kaleena Mosqueda- Lewis
(Mater Dei H.S. / Anaheim, Calif.)
You’ve played the last two summers for USA Basketball. How much have teams improved this year?
They’re a lot smarter, but one thing that doesn’t ever change about the teams from other countries is that they’re all relentless. They never give up the whole time, whether we’re up 20 or up five, they’re still playing the same. I think that’s something that we’ve gotten better at as a USA team. We’ve gotten to know that we’ve got to play hard every second because they’re going to do the same. All these teams have heart, that’s the main thing.
What was the difference in the way the USA played today compared to yesterday?
Coach Rizzotti was telling us that we have to focus more on getting in there and fighting for rebounds, stopping dribble penetration and playing better defense all around. As a team we focused a lot more on that today and we did a lot better job on defense.
They’re very physical and they’re very fast. They’re probably going to try to get into all the gaps that we have on defense. They’re going to try to rough us up a little bit, so we have to be tough. We’ve got to stand our ground and cut off penetration without fouling.
(Cicero North Syracuse High School/North Syracuse, N.Y.)
What was the difference in the way the USA played today compared to yesterday?
We definitely stepped up our defensive mentality and rebounding. Then we were just making all the hustle plays, playing as a team. Coach said yesterday that we need to keep working on that and I think we got a lot better.
On the USA’s depth:
Anyone can sub in for anyone and it’s almost like the same person out there. They’re doing the same thing. We have 12 people who can rotate in like that and keep up the energy. It’s great. There are some countries that can only play their starting five and it’s a great advantage.
It took a little bit to get your momentum going. What was it that changed, allowing you to pull away?
I think it was us running. We like to push the tempo and we just kept doing it all game and Russia eventually got tired.
(Princess Anne High School/Virginia Beach, Va.)
What was the difference in the team’s effort today compared to yesterday?
Coach Rizzotti told us that we definitely have to focus a lot more on our defensive effort. I think we could all see that our effort wasn’t what it should have been. Today we picked up our effort level defensively, so that helped us get our offense going.
On her play against Russia, which has much taller players than Japan had:
I think you just have to shift your mentality a little bit. If you can get into the flow defensively, you can build your confidence up. Then, rebounding is just another effort thing. I just tried to go out a little harder to rebound.
Were you surprised at all by the difference in rebounding?
We knew if we put our mind to it, we could outrebound them. Then since our focus was defense, we knew that if we could hold them defensively, we’d do well. Since we scouted them, that helped us a lot in going over everything in practice this morning.
On Argentina, the USA’s next opponent:
They seem to like to penetrate it a lot, especially the guards. Their post players kind of … it’s going to be a really physical game. I noticed that when we were watching them play yesterday. I think if we just keep our defense up and keep playing hard, we’ll be okay.