Additional Quotes >> USA 83, Argentina 49
July 23, 2011 • Puerto Montt, Chile
Jennifer Rizzotti (University of Hartford), USA head coach
What have you learned about your team in this round?
I think I’ve learned that we are getting better, but we still have a long way to go to reach our full potential. Our kids are really working hard to make sure they’re listening and trying to get better every day. They’ve learned that there are a lot of teams here that play with a lot of passion and a lot of pride for their country and they’ve to go make sure they’re ready with their effort every day.
There’s a lot that we need to get better at, defensively. Certainly there’s a lot more awareness of their intensity and when it drops. I think that they’re really starting to play together more on the defensive end of the floor. They’re starting to understand rotations. At least they know and they have an awareness of it. I’d like to see us be a lot more efficient and sharp offensively as well as we go forward and really understand our plays and how we’re going to score our points against better teams.
Are you happy with their intensity level?
Yeah, I think that it was a little bit more up and down today and not as consistent as it was yesterday. I really tried to tell them not to focus on the score, learn to focus on each possession and try to improve and get better. They lost their focus for a little bit today when we got a big lead, but I certainly was happy with what we did to get that lead.
Are you ready for the next round?
We know we have our work cut out for us and I told them there’s not going to be any easy games going forward. Between China, Italy and Canada, it’s a really strong group. It might be one of the strongest groups here. We’re going to have to be really prepared. We’re going to have to take tomorrow and use our practice time well and make sure that we continue to get better every day.
Is Canada better than last year?
I think so. I haven’t had a chance to see them play a whole lot here because they were (at the other site yesterday). I think that they combined their U18 and their U17 team and they found their 12 best players. They seem to be playing really well together. I know in the past they’ve struggled offensively to be efficient, but this year they seem to be putting a lot of points on the board. They’re going to be a challenge, but not one we’re going to be facing right away, so we’re going to have a little time.
On her rotation and playing everyone in each game:
We have all 12 players available and ready. They all play double-digit minutes, and I think that’s one of the advantages that we have over a lot of teams. We have a lot of depth on our bench and we have a lot of good players who can play. I felt that we had a chance to really give people the opportunity to play today and rest some of our starters.
On the USA’s balanced scoring:
We’re a difficult team to scout, because you can’t worry about one or two players. Most teams have two or three players you have to focus on. On the U.S., we have eight or nine players you have to worry about. I told the players before the tournament started that any one of them can lead us in scoring on any night and they need to make sure they play their roles. Some nights it’ll be our post players scoring and some nights we’ll get more opportunity from our perimeter. Just share the ball, be unselfish and try to get a lot of points off our defense.
NOTE: From more from Rizzotti, watch the video interview.
(Butler High School/Matthews, N.C.)
On her play in the tournament:
I’m definitely just trying to play my game and do the best that I can to make sure that I am putting the effort forth to make sure my team is successful. My teammates and my coaches obviously have faith in me to allow me to start. So, I’m just trying to make the best out of it and help my team get victories.
Coach Rizzotti said that all 12 players can contribute. Can you play extra minutes if needed?
Yes, we’re all in really good shape. We trained at altitude, where it’s really hard to breathe. It’s great to have a long bench, but if need be we have players who can go long minutes.
Foul trouble has been an issue, do you think this will be a problem?
We have so many different aspects to our team. We have people who can handle the ball and people can do multiple things. So if someone was to get in foul trouble, we always have somebody who can come in for them.
Are you ready for the physicality of the rest of the tournament?
Of course. When we come overseas, we know there’s going to be a lot of physical play. A lot of countries really like to play physical. We love it. We really do. There are some extremely fast guards out here and we just have to keep defending and rotating and we’ll be great.
Who would you like to face if you get to the finals? Canada, maybe?
We played Canada in the 18-and-under qualifying championship, so that would be a rematch for them, but I’m just willing to face anybody who’s ready to play us. If it’s France, or if it’s Australia, they’re looking pretty good right about now. We’ll see what happens.
What did you get out of the first three games and what do you need to work on moving forward?
From pool play, you can see a dramatic difference in our defense, the rotation and our aggressiveness and willing to work on the defensive end. We just have to continue to get better on the defensive end and then as we progress into the tournament, get better executing as well.
(University of Connecticut/Slate Hill, N.Y.)
Was there something you were working on after the game was in hand?
The main focus after we had the big lead was to execute on offense and run our plays through. Argentina had a really good defense. They were pressuring us. So I think it was just executing, buckling down on defense and still getting stops. We lost a little focus at the end of the game. In the games to come, we can’t do that. We need to learn to keep focused and have our minds set for the entire 40-minte game.
On Bria Hartley’s 9-0 run:
That’s Bria being Bria. Bria’s a great player like that. She’s going to push the ball on the offense. She’s going to finish shots, knock down shots and at the same time, find people to pass the ball to. She does a great job. She knows when she’s hot and I know when she’s hot. So, I know when I’m getting the ball, I pass it to her and she’ll knock them down.
On the USA’s depth:
That’s extremely important. There are 12 of us on this team and every one of us can go in there and play great basketball. So everyone needs to be ready to go in, come off the bench and have the energy, the determination that the previous group had. You have to be ready to come off the bench like that. That starts with the energy on the bench. You can’t just be sitting there and not be into the game. As long as you’re sitting on the bench and you’re into the game, you’re going to come in and bring that energy.
What does the team need to work on before the next round?
As far as we’ve come in becoming a team, we still need to get our offense going, executing on offense, just running our plays. Coach said today we need to be listening to what the coaches are telling us and not second guessing their choices on offense. Defense, we just need to keep pressuring the ball. A lot of these teams don’t handle the pressure well. So we need to get up on them and not let them run their plays. The biggest thing for us is dictating the way the other team plays and that starts with our defense.
(MacArthur High School/Irving, Texas)
What did you get out of the first three games?
We learned that we’re not going to get anything really easy, we’re going to have to fight for it. We’ve learned how to play defense and when we play good defense, we can score. We have to try to play the best defense we can to get the ball in the hoop.
How important is it to have the depth this team has?
It’s a good depth because it gives everybody some rest. So, when the next person’s tired, someone else can come in and get another run. We can keep getting runs on them.
On the play of her teammates:
Bria (Hartley) has been doing really, really good. She’s been attacking the paint, getting the ball in the hoop, getting the box in the post. E’s (Elizabeth Williams) been doing a great job getting in there, too, and Ariel (Massengale) is doing the same thing. Everybody’s been doing real good.
(Cicero North Syracuse High School/North Syracuse, N.Y.)
On today’s game:
I thought we played another fast-paced game with Argentina. They have a smaller line-up and they like to run like Japan does. They’re all over the place. At the end of the first quarter and the start of the second, we started to get things going. Because, the first part of the game we were a little slow. Then we started playing well.
On the USA’s 16-0 run in the first quarter:
I think it was because Argentina, they were running us early on and they were trying to get us tired. But then when once we put our next line of subs in, we had fresh legs and they didn’t. Then we were able to go on the run.
What do you need to work on before the next round to continue getting better as a team?
We need to keep working on running through our sets and making sure we know exactly what we’re doing. We also need to work on our defensive rotations and making sure we’re always in the gaps on defense.
Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.)
On today’s game:
We started off a little slow on the defensive end, but I think we picked it up. When we get stops, we’re a lot better on offense. When you just focus on defense, the game goes our way.
Does it seem as if all the conditioning you did in Colorado Springs is paying off by wearing down other teams?
Yeah, I think it is, because we play everybody. A lot of teams have just six or seven players. Since we have 12 people who can go, we’re not tired like the other teams are and we can keep going.
Is it like a one-two punch with your starters wearing down the opponent and the next group knocking them out?
I definitely think that when we make our subs, energy stays in the game and that definitely helps. There’s not a drop off when our starters come out.
What have you learned about the team over the first round and what do you need to work on?
We got to know each other better on the court. We’ve all learned that when we are focused and playing defense like we know we should play, we’ll be fine.