USA 76, MiZo Pécsi 53

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Additional Quotes

March 24, 2006 • Pécs, Hungary
Story || Box Score

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
On tonight's game:
I expected it to be very competitive. I knew that Pecs would be the most competitive game on this trip. I'm just glad it was last because it seemed that everyday we got progressively better. I thought tonight we were very focused and really confident. That was a matter of being together this week and working hard together.

What did you talk about in the locker room?
We talked after the last game about not letting the door open again and letting someone back through it. So really, trying to seal the deal and close it out. I think they took it to heart. Sheryl (Swoopes) and Katie (Smith) led the way in terms of that mentality. You saw it down the stretch This isn't the place you want to be close down the stretch, and let the officials get in the middle of it. The fact that we were able to really push ahead in the second half was important with how we finished.

Are you pleased with the way this week has progressed?
Very much so. It's such a great mix to have some of the more experienced players with some of the younger players and to see the younger players grow. Look at the game (Michelle) Snow had tonight and how (Nicole) Ohlde's grown from last trip to this trip, Alana (Beard), same thing. It's nice to see the younger players get the opportunity and learn from the older players. I'm really pleased. To be six and oh at this point, I'm thrilled.

USA assistant coach MIKE THIBAULT, Connecticut Sun
What did you talk about at halftime?
Keeping the defensive focus and taking care of the basketball. We had 11 turnovers in the first half, a lot of them were sloppy. Some of them were walking, some of them were charging, but to not give them extra possessions and we did a much better job of that. The third quarter was 22-7 and that was probably as good a quarter as we've played on this trip.

How do you feel about how this three-game series went?
This has been terrific. We've gotten better each game, which is the most important thing. We only had a couple practices, we had one less practice than we did in the previous session. With only nine players, a few injuries here and there, some people in foul trouble, but we played better and better, especially defensively, in each game. Particularly the second half of the last game and all of tonight's game we passed the ball much better. It was fun to watch. We just did everything well tonight, for the most part. This has been a very good trip, we've had a chance to get some good evaluations on some players.

ALANA BEARD, Washington Mystics
On tonight's game and blowing it open in the third quarter:
I think in this game we came out with more intensity than we did in the other two games. To start the game we played great team defense and that was the difference in the third quarter. We played better team defense than we did in the first two quarters.

What did the coaches talk about at halftime?
The cuts, the open cuts that we were giving them. The same cuts we got beat on the game before were the same cuts we got beat on tonight. They wanted us to get into better help-side defensively as a team, push the ball better, push it down their throats and open the gap a little bit more.

You've now been on two USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team tours, how do you feel about your play over the past few weeks?
I think in the first trip I played like I (didn't know what I was doing). But the second trip, I think I'm getting more comfortable with her system. I like her system, it's easy to get into and it really helps me to have veterans on the team. They've helped me out with a lot of things.

Speaking of the veterans, what have they taught you?
The way they handle themselves mentally, that's one thing I really look at. Katie (Smith) had an unbelievable first session, she didn't have as good a session this time, but the way she handled herself you could never tell. Taj (McWilliams-Franklin) is always talking to you, helping you out. And then you have Sheryl (Swoopes) talking and helping you out also. I love that about the veterans, I really do.

KRISTIN HAYNIE, Sacramento Monarchs
On tonight's game:
We started out good. I think the first quarter, we really came out together. We played well with good intensity. We kept that up throughout most of the game. I think it's important to get a good start in the first quarter and the third quarter and we did that.

With only a week of training, the team seemed to play like you've been training together for much longer. Why do you think that is?
A lot of it is that we're basketball players, it doesn't take that long to get use to people and know their tendencies. We've played against each other as well, so I think that helps out a lot. But I think each day we got better, we gelled more and we went to each other's strengths. That's what you have to do to be a good basketball team.

What do you think about this week, working with this mix of veterans and younger players?
I think you always need a mix, especially players with experience playing the type of basketball that so often differs from the European leagues and the WNBA. I think it's good to see what we look like together, there's not many people out here, just to see the talent, see what everybody needs to work on. As a coach, I guess, what the coaching staff and the organization, what they need to bring in to complete the team.

You really came together as a team tonight, especially in the third quarter, what do you attribute that to?
Just knowing that somebody's back there for you. A lot of times you want to play really hard defense, but you're afraid that nobody has your back. When we were in the third quarter we kept talking, ‘let's get another stop. I've got your back.' Every time there was a break down somebody rotated and another person rotated, and I think we had about five steals in that quarter. It really helps knowing that everybody's playing just as hard as you and they're out there with you and you've got a group on the bench that's cheering for you.

Were you surprised at how fast this group was able to gel?
Not really. When you watch these players, you scout them and you play against them for so long, you pretty much know what they can do. That helps you when you get into situations like this - tough team, tough arena, tough crowd - you can gel together because you know what they can do in any situation because you've played against them for so many years.

KATIE SMITH, Detroit Shock
On tonight's game:
It was a physical game, but I thought we came out and it was even for a bit. But then we took the crowd out of the ball game and they never got as rowdy as I remember it being in this place. We made a little run and we kept our distance, which is what we wanted to do because anything can happen in a game. It got physical, but I'm glad we all got out of here healthy and we were able to get the W. It was a great win, especially with our history here, we've always had tough games here.

How does it feel to not only close out this tour on a winning note, but with such a dominating win?
It's great. It's been fun on all these trips with the diversity of the teams and how different they are. We're all just kind of getting to know each other for the first time, but we played great. I think it's a tribute to Anne (Donovan) and Mike (Thibault) for the style that they play and for everybody coming in here and being like, ‘hey, let's go play.' It's been fun. I'm glad we're undefeated.

MICHELLE SNOW, Houston Comets
On tonight's game:
Pecs is a great team, a great European team and one of the best teams in the EuroLeague. So we had to come in and respect their game, they have great depth, they have height, quick players, everything to match-up with us. They came out focused. But, as expected, we came out with our focus and were determined to pull this win out.

You looked like you were really coming together as a team tonight, especially in the third quarter.
Definitely. In the first couple games we needed time to gel, time to get to know each other. And once we had some time to practice with each other and understand what the other person was going to do, we got better. I thought the defense was a lot better today, we got up and down better, rebounding ... everybody contributed. You can look throughout the stat sheet and see the steals, the turnovers we forced, the rebounds, everything. It was a team win.

What about your performance tonight?
It was just a matter of learning what she wanted, how she wanted me to play and what she needed me to do. I was determined to show her that I could do that tonight, I wanted to leave an impression with the (USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team) Committee.

You came out for spring two years ago trying to make the 2004 team, but you really didn't play well during that time. What's been the difference?
It's definitely more international experience under my belt, but also I was going through a lot mentally. I had just lost my mom. Right now I'm a lot better, I've dealt with that situation. So for me it was a lot more mental than anything.

How do you feel about your play over the last week?
Honestly, I'm not happy with my play this week. I know I need to work on my defense. They already know that all of us can score, all the posts can rebound, they want to know who can defend these European players. That's something that I'm really going to take to heart and work on when I leave here.

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