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March 6, 2006 • Sopron, Hungary
Story || Box Score

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
Congratulations on your first win as a USA Basketball head coach. How does it feel?
It's great. To have four practices in and get a win is good, against a good team. Sopron is a competitive team obviously, they're at the end of their season so they're very sharp, they're very organized and I can't say the same for us just yet.

You had a good mix of veteran players and younger players. How do you think they meshed together out there?
I think, again for the first time out, we did a really nice job offensively. We scored a lot of points, we shot the ball very well, particularly from the 3-point line. So it's nice to see that. Defensively we've got a lot of work to do and we'll need to get focused on that once we get to Poland.

They pulled to within five points in the fourth quarter and then your veterans fought back for us. What does that say about the veterans?
It shows that they've been here before. They understand that all of these games are crunch games, that you have to play well to beat teams in Europe. DeLisha, Katie, Sue, Taurasi, Swin ... we also had good minutes from young kids mixed in there. Kristen Mann did some nice things off the bench, as did Kara (Lawson) late in the game. So that mix you're talking about really came into play late. It's good to see our young kids get good, valuable experience.

You talked about the defensive lapses, what kind of improvements do you think you'll see over the next two games?
We have to be better defensively. We can't give up 80 points a game, we just can't. Really it starts and ends there for us. Offensively, we have a number of players who can score. As long as we stay unselfish and keep moving the ball, we had 22 assists on 35 field goals. We're moving the ball well and getting the right shots. Our focus really has to be, for the next game, has to be defense. Getting back in transition and doing a better job with individual defense.

USA assistant coach MIKE THIBAULT, Connecticut Sun
When you first took the position at the Connecticut Sun, you already had a gold and a silver medal under your belt from coaching two USA Basketball men's teams. Did you ever imagine you'd get the chance to work with a USA Basketball women's team?
Let's hope it means another gold! I never even really thought about it at the time. It's an honor to be chosen and be a part of this and working on a great staff. The rapport is great that Anne and I have, and with the players the entire week. As to whether or not I've ever thought about it, I probably never thought about it until about 10 months ago.

On tonight's game and whether it differs from the men's international game:
They let them go out there and be really physical. That seems to be the common denominator. We got beat up a little bit. We have to get used to it because you're not going to get calls when you're in these types of games. But I was extremely pleased with our offense, they moved the ball, passed it, we had 22 assists on 25 baskets. We shot the three as well as anybody ever expects. But we still have a lot of work to go defensively. I thought that was the best part of getting out there and playing this first game. Now we can go back in practice and work on things, say ‘hey look, this is what we need to do.' It's different telling your players that until they actually see it in a game. Now they know the little things. Much like the men in Europe, all the big players can step out and make shots. We don't always see that and I think it was a good first experience for a couple of our post players to have to get out there and guard people 15, 17 feet from the basket.

KRISTEN MANN, Minnesota Lynx
How did it feel to play with the USA Basketball jersey on again after three years ago winning the 2003 FIBA World Championship For Young Women?
I was a little nervous at first, but once I got out on the floor , got up and down a little bit, I got a lot better. I got the jitters out after that first shot. But it was good, I like playing. I like the red, white and blue.

Talk about your second quarter run:
I think we got out and ran quite a bit in that little run. I was just going with A.B. Alana was just running the ball really well and I followed through and she got me the ball. It was a collective effort.

Did it help having previous experience playing with some of these players in the past with USA Basketball and at the Minnesota Lynx?
Definitely. It's hard coming in, getting just (four) practices in and going into a game. But luckily a lot of us have played together on different teams so I think that definitely helps.

CHASITY MELVIN, Washington Mystics
On her aggressiveness in the post tonight:
I just tried to bring some aggressiveness on defense and just work hard. The girls aren't usually too physical, but they're offensively-minded. So I was just trying to bring the physicality to the game, being aggressive.

What did it feel like to step on the court wearing the USA Basketball jersey?
It was a great feeling. This is a really good experience for me and I'm just glad to be a part of helping USA Basketball out.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, Washington Mystics
On tonight's game:
I think going out into tonight's game everyone was feeling confident and the energy was at a great level. But defensively we faltered a little bit. I think individually we did not play good one-on-one defense and because of that we had to help each other a lot and the secondary line of defense wasn't there so they scored a lot of easy baskets. They ended up scoring almost 80 points in the game and that's too much for international play when you're playing against teams that can shoot this well. That means the game is never over when you're up by 10 with three minutes left they can come back very quickly. But all-in-all we're pleased with the win and we're pleased with our offensive production. But defensively we're going to work on things the next couple of days.

Talk about the fourth quarter when Sopron closed the game to five points. Aside from Kara Lawson's three with 16 seconds to go, all the USA's scoring came from Olympic champions, the veterans really stepped it up. Would that just be the experience out there on the floor?
I think that experience pays big dividends and in this situation it showed up huge. When you have people out there who understand the European game and the play at crunch time, I think we went out there and did just that. We hunkered down, got some big buckets and started shutting people down defensively. As a result we won the game.

KATIE SMITH, Detroit Shock
On her shooting:
I felt good. I came out trying to be aggressive, it's something I haven't really done in the past with USA Basketball. I've always kind of been more of a glue man. But if you're open, take some shots. I felt good, I got the ball and didn't force anything. There were a lot of people ... we spread the wealth basically, but we have got to get the D together.

You have only had four practices, while your opponents tonight have been together all season long. What does that say about what you can accomplish with this group of players over the next week?
I think that the personalities and the talent ... it's all about winning. It's all about what we do together. It's not about one person. On the fly, in four days, I thought it was great. I haven't played overseas this year, a lot of people are playing for different teams (in Europe), but I think the mind set is what maybe put us over the top and what kept us on top. It's the willingness to be unselfish and do whatever it takes to win.

What did you think about some of the younger players' play tonight?
I think some of them stepped up, they understand, they've been overseas. But it's just that pressure, when you put the USA jersey on it's totally different. They basically are out to whoop you and you have to be on your toes. You don't want to lose the game to anybody, you don't want anybody to get an edge. So I thought they did well. The young kids are out here working hard, they're listening and doing what they're asked to do.


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