USA 77, Spain 61 -- Additional Quotes

August 9, 2004  • Salamanca, Spain

USA head coach Van Chancellor (Houston Comets)
On Spain's team:
I really believe that Spain, if they play like they did tonight, will go to the medal round.

On Spain's team:
I really believe that Spain, if they play like they did tonight, will go to the medal round.

With five more days to go before your first Olympic contest, what do you still need to work on?
We have to work on rebounding. We have to do a better job on defense. We have to do a better job of protecting the basketball. Pretty soon we're going to have to cut out all these combinations I've been playing and settle on some people.

Yolanda Griffith (Sacramento Monarchs)
On Spain's tough play:
It's their home court, they gave it all they had. They got a couple of open shots, but we pulled it together as a team, started talking a little more. We limited them to just one shot and we needed to do. We started executing a little better, going from the inside to the outside, getting to the free throw line and knocking some shots down.

What does the team still need to work on over the next five days?
Becoming one. Maybe even getting a little selfish about our own game and taking the open shot. If you have the open shot, take the open shot and don't try to force it. That's what we've been doing the last three games - forcing it. We need to play within ourselves and if you have the shot, take the shot. (We also need to) play aggressive defense, know that we're the better team. Not get to the point where we let them think they can get back in the game.

What are this team's strengths?
Everybody. From the point guards to the two, three, four, five (positions). I think that the key to this team is going to be the bench players. We have to be ready to go in when our starters are struggling. That's going to be the key for us in Athens.

Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
On her experience in Spain and against the Spanish team tonight:
Overall we had a great time here in Spain and the people have been really nice to us. The Spanish team is very strong, congratulations to them for making the Olympics. I'm sure it'll be a tougher game when we come together in the Olympics. But we enjoyed our time here and we look forward to playing them again in the Olympics.

Is rebounding one of the USA's strengths?
Definitely. Our ability to rebound the basketball is one of our main strengths. We're very strong in rebounding both offensively and defensively and that's going to be the key for us in winning a gold medal.

Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock)
On tonight's game:
I think the Spanish team is typical of the teams we're going to face. They have a lot of versatile players who are going to get to the hole. We need to start the games a little better. Limit our turnovers a little bit and we'll be fine.

What are the strengths of this team?
Our depth. Our team is not only the most talented team in the world, but probably one of the deepest teams in the world. If somebody's off in any given night, there are one, two, three or even four other players who are going to be able to come in there and make an impact on the game.

You've got two days to go before U.S. Olympic Team processing. Are you getting excited about that?
I haven't really thought about it. I've never been there so I don't know what all going to the Olympics entails, so I'm excited about every experience I'll have. Everything will be new for me.

Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx)
As someone who has sat on the bench and watched these last three games, where is this team right now?
I think we got better. We're fine tuning combinations, who's playing with who. Especially without (Sheryl) Swoopes and myself, it changed things up right away. I think everybody is just getting adjusted. Adjusted to the ball, adjusted to the officiating. It does take a period of time to do that. But I like our team a lot and I'm excited to get out there with them, excited to get out there and compete in Greece.

With five days until the first Olympic contest against New Zealand. What do you still need to work on and what are the strengths of this team?
Things we need to work on would be to take care of the basketball and then on the defensive end, guarding their penetration. We need to understand that they're going to put their heads down, so we need to not foul them and send them to the free throw line. That's something we need to work on. But our rebounding is exceptional, offensively and defensively. We have people ... Swin (Cash), Yo (Griffith), Catch (Tamika Catchings), you've got Lisa (Leslie) and Tina (Thompson) ... there are some horses in there. So our rebounding, how we share the ball offensively, for the most part we do that really well. Those two things are obviously a huge key for us.

There have been a lot of fouls whistled on this team, what does the USA need to do to adjust to the international game?
It's playing defense tight, but also trying to get adjusted to the international game. They don't guard here like you do in the States. You really have to take a step back instead of taking a side step as they penetrate because they're coming right at you. You have to understand that they like to flop and get the ref's attention. Knowing personnel and knowing how to guard people is something that we're going to have to be aware of because other teams are going to take advantage of that. It's something you do have to get adjusted to, which is why these games are good for us.

Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting)
Where is the team right now and what do you all still need to work on?
I guess we still have to work on being patient. We try to get a little greedy with running up and down and trying to get the easy two points, making things difficult. We need to try to simplify the game and get more comfortable with one another. I think we're still in our own respective WNBA team mode. We have to get out of that mode and get into USA Basketball mode because we have different personnel.

You kept pulling away from Spain, but then lapses would let them back into the game. What was going on out there?
Being impatient. We're being really impatient. I think we're being indecisive at times when we just have to play. We have to communicate a little bit better because we did have some breakdowns defensively. Offensively, I don't think any team can stop all of our weapons. We just have to be patient, move the basketball a little bit more and take open shots.

Do you think your depth wears down other teams?
I think so. Player one through 12 in any combination, we put the better five on the floor. It's just all the little intangibles that can rear its ugly head at any time. We have to be careful and be conscious of it.

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On the USA's strong bench:
That's the hardest thing, when you're starting games you spend the first three or four minutes trying to get used to everything. So we get to sit back and watch, get a little idea for what we need to do at that time. We just try to help out as much as possible.

What does the team still need to work on before the first Olympic contest versus New Zealand in five days?
Offensively, sometimes we share the ball too much. We pass up the open shot for the open turnover. But I'd rather be on a team that's so unselfish than one that's not. Defensively I think we do a pretty good job helping and recovering. As long as we keep doing what we're going and improving every day, we'll be alright.

Tina Thompson (Houston Comets)
On Spain's tough play:
That was my first time playing them so I didn't know what to expect. They had really big posts, the biggest of any other team here in this tournament. They were larger and more physical than the other teams, so we felt that the physicality of the game would be high. But we didn't know to what level.




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