USA - South Korea -- Additional Quotes

August 18 , 2004  • Athens, Greece

USA head coach Van Chancellor
Opening comments:
Let me compliment the team from Korea. They were really well prepared. This is a very young team. Number four (Yeong Ok Kim) and five (Mu Sun Lee) for them were outstanding players. I thought they did an excellent job penetrating and shooting the basketball. We eventually used our depth to wear them down.

On sending in five subs with 3:26 to play in the first:
I did that because I wanted to wear them down a little bit. I wasn't unhappy with (my starting five), but that backfired on us tonight. Our young guns came in a lost a little ground, where they've been gaining ground. But I did it because I thought our young players could match them better and they were so much quicker. Then we had a defensive adjustment in the second half. I should have done this in the first half, we started switching all screens.

In the first half they penetrated like mad, kicked it out and shot the three-ball from somewhere in downtown Athens. Four and five shot the ball twice where I didn't think they could see the basket they were so far out. They were red-hot. Here's what happens, when you're the USA and you play a team and something goes wrong, it's not always the USA's fault. It might be that the other team's playing really well. Early in the game I didn't think we were playing bad. We were throwing up three-balls we shouldn't have, but defensively ... it's hard to defend (Yeong Ok Kim), who was shooting about three steps out past the center line. Then when you run out there, she runs by you and throws it to someone else who throws up the three-ball. Give them credit.

What did you think about the men's team coming to the game after their practice today?
I thought it was really nice, especially when you consider that they're trying to solve some of their problems. They had to make an effort to get here today. From where we go to practice, from our rooms, come back, shower and come over here. That's effort and I do appreciate it.

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
You got off to a slow start again today. Is there a pattern here?
I think definitely the first five minutes of the a\1st quarter and the 3rd quarter are the most important of the game. We are probably the most talented team out there. That doesn't mean we are going to blow everybody out in the first half. That is only 20 minutes of basketball. I think today we showed the kind of character we have by coming out in the 3rd quarter and just taking it to them. The first 5 minutes of the third quarter, that was it. Game over.

It looked like Lisa Leslie just took over. Is she the player that no other team can match up with?
Well it was with this team. That is one thing we talked about in the locker room before the game. We have a huge advantage inside…Lisa, Tina, Yolanda…when Ruth came in at the end, she was killing them. We have a he advantage there and we just wanted to pound the ball inside.

It looks like you're having fun out there, even though you are playing hard…true?
Basketball is fun. And when you are playing it with the best people in the world, in my opinion, how can you not have fun.

The men's team was here at your game today. What does that mean to you?
It was nice. We support them; they support us. Even if we're not at their games or they aren't at ours, we still know we are both supporting one another. So it was good of them to come.

You play Spain next. What do you expect?
We played them prior to coming to the Olympics. I think we are kind of familiar with some of their players, but they were missing their best player, Amaya Valdemoro. With her addition they will be tougher. They play wth a lot of emotion. We played them in Spain and it was not a blowout until the end. They are playing really well and have a lot of confidence, so anything can happen.

What are their strengths?
They have a little bit of everything. They have some post players who are really crafty. They drive and kick really well. They push the ball. They shoot the ball. They do a lot things well. They are tough.

Swin Cash (Detroit Shock)
On today's game:
Every game is not going to be easy because teams are going to get up to against us. They were making some unbelievable shots early but we kept chipping away and felt that in a 40-minute span, we would be able to do the things we needed to do to win the game.

On the struggle early:
We weren't communicating at times and had a few lapses but we got organized and really started playing after halftime. I think we brought a bunch of energy from the bench and the starters' experience definitely helped.

I was happy with our performance but we are still getting used to each other. You have to take open looks to get the inside game going and some shots weren't going early.

Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
On today's game:
They (South Korea) came out and were hitting those big threes so we had to make adjustments defensively - we started switching everything and they couldn't get those shots off. We tried to get through the screens in the first half but they were too quick.

On the team coming together:
This is only our third game and we have gotten so much better than when we started out in New York. I think everyone is learning their role - my is to play defense and rebound. That's one thing I will do - if I can get an open shot, I will take it but I try to always play great defense.

There are so many different ways for us to win games, we have so much talent...I think everyone will get a chance to shine here.

On Spain (USA's next opponent)
They are very experienced team and one that will present us with a big challenge. We just played them in the exhibition season (Team USA defeated Spain, 77-61, on August 9) so all of us will be familiar with them. We just need to keep improving, take care of our business and we will be fine.

Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
Coach did a great job of going to the bench in the second half. Is it your job when you're on the bench to cheer for the players who were cheering for you out there in the first half?
Well it's not my job I just think we have good team comradery. Whether I'm playing or if I'm on the bench I try and help out the other players playing my position or if you see something information that they need to know.

How do you maintain focus in a game like that?
Well easy, I don't think that we look at Korea as the opponent, basically we are our own competition. So we get out there and try to work on good habits, whether it's our press and making sure we are rotating right, or if we're switching we sort of work on our communications Cause those are the little things that can help us when we get to the gold medal round.

I think no matter what's going on in the first half, the third quarter is the key for us to really try and be dominate and I thought we were just excellent today.

Did you notice when the men's team arrived during the game?
Actually I did. I was still on the court I was at the free throw line so it was kind of hard to miss them...I was just hoping I'd make my two free throws. I thought it was a great effort for them to try and come over after their practice which is about 40 minutes away. We're appreciative of their support and obviously we'll come out and support them when we can.

Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock)
That was an interesting game. This is your first big international competition, you're first Olympics, so I gather you were very interested?
Completely. Our team is so deep I know my minutes are going to be limited but to be here and to be playing in the Olympic is such an honor.

How do you keep your focus to come in off the bench in the second half like they did?
...you see where they make their mistakes, what's working for them, and then when you get in the game it's a little easier for you???

What do you think of this team?
We have a good squad, whether it's the best ever I think is yet to be determined but we have a lot of good leadership and new players

Are thing going pretty much to plan?
I think so. I think we're making good efforts I think every country is a little different so you have to adjust game by game.

How is the team coming together?
I think we are doing great. Dawn is really the glue to the team out there as our point guard. The leadership and experience that she has is invaluable. Just to have her when we need to settle down, she brings us all together and I think that everyone is pretty unselfish. We are out here representing our country and we are going to do what it takes to win.

What keyed the 3rd quarter spurt today?
I just think that at halftime we had to step it up defensively. Giving them 23 points in the first quarter wasn't something we're used to doing. We just had to come out and be aggressive. We threw on the full court press, we got some steals and offensively we went at it.

Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx)
On today's game:
They gave us a great shot at the game. We stayed in their and played good defense, then we started to dominate the boards and started to ‘hum' in the second half.

On the condition of her injured leg
It felt good. It's my second day on the floor and it felt good.

On her ability to help the US team with her outside shot
It just happens. We're going to have to knock down some shots to win games. Against the team today (Korea), we had to get the ball inside and then they got it back to us for some good looks. We had some open jump shots and we're going to have to step up and knock them down. When we shoot the ball, we have great offensive rebounders who are in there cleaning up.

On Spain
They're tough. They've got some quickness and they've got some girls that like to penetrate the lane. They are a solid team and they are going to come out and be aggressive. We beat them by 20, but we can't take them for granted.

Can Spain test the USA?
They can. It depends on how we come out and play. I think how we approach every game, how we come out is the way it's going to go. We have to be ready to play against them. They are going to be motivated and excited and they've got some players who can do some work.

Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting)
On adjustments made and success in the second half of the game
It's going to take a quarter or two, maybe even 25 minutes to get adjusted to a team and their style of play. Everybody has got to understand, that if we go down a little to not panic. That's one thing we can't do. We can't panic. Our coaches can't panic, because for 40 minutes, no team here at the Olympics has the talent and the depth that we have. We can't panic in situations like that.

On the play of Katie Smith, she returns and it helps your 3-point shooting:
She's going to help a lot. She's got to get some shots up. She's got to get used to shooting the ball in this arena. Not when we're up, but when the game is tight and somebody is going to pack it in the middle, like most teams do against us.

On the USA's next opponent – Spain
We have to play 40 minutes and pound them. The main thing is penetration and I think if we do that, it will be a beautiful thing for us. We have too much depth and too much power for them to defend us. We have to defend the basketball.

We are going to get tested. I'm not saying what team, what country, but we will get tested and we will have to rely on our experience and youth to make some shots for us. We let everyone know, because it's inevitable.

On Lisa Leslie's play:
What Lisa Leslie does ..just inside, outside, rebounding, blocks. She is just a force. She is the best player in the world.

Do we have the next best player in the world right now? I don't know. Lauren Jackson is probably the closest thing to Lisa.

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On today's game:
I thought today was a really good game for us. We got off to a pretty slow start in the first quarter. The Koreans were hitting every shot and playing unbelievable. We came back in the second quarter and the third quarter. Defensively, (the third quarter) was one of the defensive quarters we've played in a long time. If we want to go far in this tournament, that's how we're going to have to play. Our veterans worked hard out there. Lisa (Leslie), Tina (Thompson), Sheryl (Swoopes) and Dawn (Staley), really put it on their shoulders to take that game over. I think they did a great job.

The game was great today. I think we did a lot of good things and every game we build and learn a little something about each other. Today, we came out a little sluggish in the first quarter and Korea was hitting everything.

On the team's poor outside shooting:
If you look around, we have great 3-point shooters on this team. We've got (Sheryl) Swoopes and Sue (Bird), and myself. We have the shooters, we just weren't knocking them in today. So we had to revert to our inside game, which is our bread and butter. They weren't coming to start the game, which sometimes happens. But in the second half we were doing a much better job of (shooting).

Are you getting better each day?
Yes. And time takes care of that. We haven't had that much of it. Every game we are building that team chemistry and camaraderie on the court.

The USA men were able to make the game today because of their practice schedule today, what did that mean?
They've had a few tough days. But, it's nice of them to get out here and support us. We have been able to go to their games, we were there last night and it was a great win. It means a lot for them to come.

On Spain and the continuing road to the gold
We've got Spain next. They're tough, undefeated in pool play. They've beaten a couple good teams, so it should be a tough game.

They kind of follow suit with a lot of the European teams…dribble, drive and kick. They can shoot the ‘three' and they've got a good inside game with a few big post players who do very well. We will have our hands full.

Tina Thompson (Houston Comets)
How did you prepare for South Korea?

Yesterday at practice our coaching staff emphasized that even though they have players with good size, they don't post up much and they will get as close to the basket as they can where they will just lay it up or kick it back for a 3-point shot. Those are tendencies that they have. Those are the little things that pr coaches got from watching tape of them play and gave us so that hopefully we could stop them defensively.

How much does Van (Chancellor) emphasize to you to make that extra pass? In the third quarter in particular it looked like you had a lot of good looks.
We are so unselfish, and you wouldn't think that, having the players that we have on the team with all of them receiving as many accolades as they have in their careers. The unselfishness on this team is at a very high level. Sometimes we overpass and we turn the ball over or pass up open looks. But that's a good thing. We'd rather pass up open shots to get a better one than take quick shots and get out of our offense.

How do you view your next opponent, Spain?
I think they are really confident right now. They are playing well. They have their leading scorer (Amaya Valdermoro) and leader coming back. I think she makes a huge difference on their team from when we played them earlier this summer before the Olympics. I think they are going to be pretty pumped up. We are going to approach that game like we have any other game and continue to execute our game plan and do whatever it takes to get a win. I definitely think they are going to be a pretty tough opponent.

What did Van say to you at halftime?
He just emphasized rebounding. We were allowing them too much on the boards. I think they had something like 6 offensive rebounds in the first half and that is not something that teams are usually getting on us. He was pretty upset about that, but not to the point that it was like a bad thing, he was kind of like getting our attention. Six offensive rebounds for them is not a good thing for us.

That second five for us..they are so young. They are just everywhere. They can definitely get things going and they have done that for us. Getting in the passing lanes defensively and scoring layups.. Vsn was looking for a spark and something different.

Do you think that you are the most dominant team in the Olympics, not just in basetball but in any team sport?
Honestly, I think that the great thing about that is that we don't. And I think that is what allows us to continue to play at a very high level. We are not being complacent. We are not over-confident.




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