USA 87, USO Mondeville Basket 66

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March 20, 2006 • Mondeville, France
Story || Box Score

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
On tonight's game:
You can tell that we were one practice shorter than the last tour. I think one practice more would have helped here because I thought after the first quarter we played pretty well together. With nine players, it's pretty tough in terms of rotations and minutes. But there were some real positive things. Like they pressed the entire game and we handled that very well, we didn't have turnovers against the pressure. I thought we had different people stepping up. Katie Smith continues to shoot the ball really well, which is a very positive thing for USA Basketball.

What kind of team was Mondeville?
Mondeville is a very good team. They would have been even more competitive had their point guard been playing (Caroline Koechlin). But they did a very nice job, they stayed in the game and they didn't quit.

What did you think about your team tonight?
We look young, we look inexperienced, we look new. We've played together for just three days and that's what it looked like to me. We had some spectacular plays from our Olympians, Katie Smith and Sheryl Swoopes. That kind of veteran play will have to help us on this trip as we don't have a lot of time to practice, it's just a matter of getting into games and being ready to compete.

What do you need to work out before heading into Wednesday's game against the Hungarian All-Star Team?
We still need flow offensively, we're still trying to learn who each other are, besides trying to learn a new system. We've got to get to know each other better so we can play to our strengths and cover our weaknesses a little bit. I'm a little concerned with our depth a little bit at this point. I think our next two games are going to get tougher. We know that this was probably the least difficult game of the three that we'll see. So our depth will have to come into play at some point and hopefully we're deep enough.

How do you prepare for Wednesday's game? You will be going up against a team you have no clue about, nor do you know who will be on the team.
I think what we expect on this trip is just typical European basketball, they try to drive and pick, which we saw a lot of tonight. It's not so much the scouting report, it's how we play against a particular style. We just have to do a better job of guarding penetration than we did tonight, getting out on shooters, I think we gave up, in the third quarter particularly, a bunch of threes that we should have been out on. These players are good, they're the best in the world so they can adjust, once they get out there, to who they're guarding.

ALANA BEARD, Washington Mystics
On tonight's game and how it differed from the USA's first 2006 European tour:
It was very different, simply because I'm playing the point position. I have a little experience with it, but I'm normally a two or a three playing on the wing, so it's a lot different. But this game was also different in the aspect that we have a totally different team (on this tour). Even though we have four of the players coming back from last tour, we still have to get together and gel. I think we have a great group here to be able to do some good things. It depends. All the people on this tour learn quick, they're smart. So in some aspects it's hard, but in others it isn't.

What was the difference between the two teams and the way you were able to pull away?
We were getting stops, defensively. They came out in the first half and penetrated, they owned the paint, they were getting a lot of scores in the paint. I think in the second half we came out more aggressive defensively, keeping them on the outside and playing their players more aggressively. We started to pick up on their traits as players.

How do you think you played today?
Okay. I played fair. I know I can improve, but right now I'm focusing on being the point guard that Anne needs.

KRISTIN HAYNIE, Sacramento Monarchs
What did it feel like to play in your first USA Basketball game?
It felt good, it's an honor and a blessing just to be invited to this. It's not anything different, you have to step out on the court and play your game, no matter what team you're playing for.

How did you think you played tonight?
I think I did pretty well overall, but there's always room for improvement especially with these minutes, I need to work on getting into the offense better.

What do you have to work on tomorrow before facing the Hungary All-Star Team on Wednesday?
I think our defensive pressure has to be better in the next game. We also need to get more offensive rebounds. But we'll get better, this is our first game and we'll get better as the week goes on.

Did you feel the team's flow get better as the game wore on?
Oh yeah, definitely. We know each other a little better now, so, like I said, everyday we'll get better.

NICOLE OHLDE, Minnesota Lynx
What was tonight's game like as compared to the USA's first tour?
In a sense it was different because we have totally different people. There are only four of us playing on this team that played on the last team. It's different just for the fact of having to get use to playing with everybody and the different styles that everyone brings and that kind of stuff. It was a little bit different. But at the same time it's still basketball and you have to learn to read each other.

What was the Mondeville team like to play against?
They were definitely a tough team. They're very set in their ways in their offense, they were very deliberate. That was a good team. We messed up in a few spots, kind of let them get back into the game, but that's just something that we need to work on and get better at.

How were you able to pull away?
We were getting stops on defense, boarding the ball, that kind of stuff. And we were starting to move the ball better. I think that if we just do those things we can pull away from teams like that. But when we didn't do that, we didn't rebound, when we didn't play defense, that's how they started coming back on us.

KATIE SMITH, Detroit Shock
On tonight's game and taking the first quarter and part of the second to really get into a flow:
It was a little bit of everything. The style of play ... a little bit of a combination of simply getting on the floor and getting it done. I think we played well, we just have to fine-tune some things. But against the half-court trap and zone on top of that, it just makes things difficult. It throws a little kink in there that, not only do you only have three days (to prepare), but then you throw in the half-court trap. But overall I think people did well. Give us one more day to get our feet under us and we'll be alright for Wednesday.

What about some of the younger players out there, how do you think they played?
Kristin (Haynie) was really solid. I was really impressed with her. Obviously A.B. (Alana Beard) got a lot more points this time around than last trip, she made her presence felt, especially on the defensive end. Swoopes, it's always nice to have her out there on the floor, and Ohlde looked good. I was happy Kristin was solid. It's great because people get minutes and you really get the chance to work the kinks out. Even when you make mistakes you're going to stick around and get more minutes.

What was the difference in the game between the two teams?
Defensively we got some stops and were able to rebound and run. Then we were able to knock down some shots, we shot the ball decent. Even though we still missed a lot of shots, layups and other opportunities, we still were able to get a nice little lead. I think, in general, from top to bottom we're a little deeper and we kept coming at them.

You seemed to be shooting the ball very well:
I feel good. I worked hard in the off-season in a lot of different areas and shooting is one of them. But you have to keep taking them, I feel good and hopefully I can keep knocking them down because things are going to keep getting tougher on this trip.

MICHELLE SNOW, Houston Comets
On tonight's game:
Tonight's game was our first game together as a group. We're basically trying to get the kinks out, work everything out. We have two big games coming up. We definitely have some talented players, it's just a matter of us starting to gel now and the bottom line is that we have to get the job done in the next two games.

What did you think about your opponent tonight?
They're a very good team, a strong team. Grace Daley did a wonderful job. Also they play that European basketball where the post players play everywhere, they can post, they can step out. The guards post up. So it's very good for us, as Americans, to guard that. It makes us better and we make them better.

How did you feel out there tonight?
Honestly? (laughs) I don't really ... I want to see the tape. I don't necessarily want to judge how I played until I see that. But I think on defense, our posts, all of us have to get better. We can't let their posts get dominate like they did at times. Personally, I think I went to the boards on the offensive end, I have to continue to do that and I have to be able to guard people.

SHERYL SWOOPES, Houston Comets
What was it like playing for USA Basketball again and playing for Anne as the head coach?
I always think that it'll be just another game. But it's always different, it's always a different feeling. Any time you play with different players, even some of the same players, and with Anne, she was an assistant coach for the Olympic team, but it's different with her being the head coach. I think she's done a great job, obviously with Seattle, she's done a great job with everything she's done in her career. To get an opportunity to play for her as the head coach was something I was definitely looking forward to on this tour.

Tell me about tonight's game:
I think there were some good things we did and there is definitely a lot of work we have to do, but it's always good to get a win. I think we saw a few nerves in some of the younger players who were out there. But the game was totally different from (Saturday) night when we watched them play (against Nice), coming into this game we knew it was going to be a lot different, but anytime you put on a USA uniform. Regardless of whether it's training or in a big tournament, we don't want to lose. The first half I thought we did some things that allowed them to stay in the game, and then we came back in the second half and did some better things. It's good to get a win. Always.

What helped you pull away or why do you think it took awhile to do so?
I think we might have expected them to be a little intimidated, a little nervous and not come at us as hard to start the game off. But they did just the opposite. I think they felt like they had to be physical with us and do the things that they do well to try to take us out of our game. Even though we've had three practices and we know the offense, we still don't know it as well as we should. It's different when you're going in practices, going against each other, as opposed to getting into the game and playing. Because then everybody is a little more nervous, this is a tryout for many of the players, so they feel a little nervous. They feel like, ‘I can't make a mistake, I have to do this or I have to do that right.' Once we camled down a little bit, unfortunately it took us almost the whole first half to do it, but I think that the one thing that Anne said and I said to the players is that it only gets tougher from here. It doesn't get any easier. Hopefully we have the nervousness out of our system and we'll be ready to play our next game when we go to Hungary.

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