USA 87, China 53

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April 10, 2006 • Canberra, Australia
Story || Box Score

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
On this morning's game versus the USA's first game against China on April 7:
I watched a tape of that game and it was a good win for us, considering the jet lag was really evident in that game. But tonight I thought we did a much better job defensively. We kept them off the free throw line much more than we had in the first two games. We really got good efforts from everybody.

Were you happy with the way the team performed, especially on defense?
Very much so. Our focus coming in today, in all three games in Canberra, was to play much better defense than we did in Cairns. We put teams on the free throw line way too much. We're trying to clean it up defensively and I think we can do a better job with our help side than we did tonight, but overall it's a step in the right direction.

Candace Parker obviously had a good game, who else stood out?
Candace did a great job. All of our young players played very well, but our anchors are Tina Thompson and Katie Smith. Our veteran players really are the anchors that allow the young kids to relax and be able to help us.

As was the case in both European tours, it's taking the team a couple of days to really start to get in a flow and it seems that's what's happening here. What improvements have you seen over the last three games?
When I watched the tape of the first China game, we looked like a team that was running amok. The fatigue and jet lag was really evident. But with every game, with every practice, we get more and more together and really get better. That's what it takes to get into a comfort level for playing together. Our depth really helps us. We can go hard, hard, hard, and then bring in good depth off the bench that will help us sustain what the starters have begun.

You mention the depth. While we're missing a lot of our core veterans, what does it say about the depth of USA Basketball to be able to play strong out here?
So far it's been good, but we have two more games here so I don't want to get carried away. But it says a lot about USA Basketball and the developmental programs. We've always done a great job of focusing on the junior programs and really bringing those players up through the ranks, so when then get to the senior level there's not a huge adjustment period. I think that's evident. With all these young players who have been out here for us internationally, they're ready for the senior level. With the compliment of Katie, Tina, it really helps them get comfortable out there.

What do you expect to see against Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) tomorrow night?
We watched a little bit of their game the other night and they're a pretty good team. I was surprised at how well they played together and how different they are. They're not your traditional Asian teams that make a lot of cuts to the basket. They have a lot of iso plays and are capable of going one-on-one so we'll have to have another good defensive effort.

What was it like getting out on the court for your first time at the senior level?
It felt good, I was happy just to be out there after my long journey. It was a new experience for me, as far as playing with these young ladies, but they helped me out throughout the entire game as far as keeping myself together.

It didn't look like you had any jet lag out there, you looked pretty energized.
I did? (laughs) No, I was tired. Very tired. I couldn't breathe, but my legs and everything else felt great.

You've played against some of these Chinese players on previous USA Basketball teams, did that help you to know what to expect?
Not really because this is on a different level. It's a different team. As far as the offense and the system, it's all different. But I still know that they're shooters, they like to create and get to the foul line.

What allowed you to run away from China in the second quarter?
Defense. Coach has been preaching it the whole time. We bought into what coach was saying and just locked in and did what we had to do, as far as perimeter players helping out on the post and post players being solid in their defense and not letting them get to the foul line.

How important is the veteran leadership out here for you and the rest of the younger players?
It's very important. It's a different level of basketball. Most of these young players have played international ball, professional ball, but it's very physical. It's a different ball game. It's easy to get out of your game with the contact, the calls and the different atmosphere. So it's very good to have Tina Thompson and all those players here to help you get through those things.

ALANA BEARD, Washington Mystics
What was it like to be back on your home court from your time with the Canberra Capitals?
It was fun. The fans come out, they know you, so that's a good thing. To be able to come out and play in familiar surroundings and in front of people you have grown to love within the Capitals organization is fun.

Did you feel your energy level go up a little bit with everyone cheering for you?
No, I'm always energized. Whenever I step out on the court I'm ready to play, I like to come out with a lot of energy so this time was no different.

The team seems to be gelling a little bit more, is it just a matter of having more time together?
Anytime you put a team together, there's always the issue of timing. It's going to take time to get the continuity going on any team. I really thought, in this China game, we came together defensively. We still have a lot of work to do defensively, but I think we really improved from our previous two games.

So it was your defense in the second quarter that got you going?
It was definitely our defense that got us going. We got a lot of fast breaks, which originated from our defense.

KRISTIN HAYNIE, Sacramento Monarchs
What was the difference between today's game and the first game against China?
I think today we played a lot better as a team defensively. Offensively we're more in sync, but defense is a main reason we did so much better than last game. We also didn't put them at the foul line as much. I think we're also communicating a lot better and we're coming together as a team better.

Is that what happened in the second quarter when you pulled away?
Definitely. I think our post players did a lot better on the post and it was all of our defense, talking and communicating more. We're getting more familiar with each other and that's a key.

What do you need to work on still?
Maybe getting to the foul line more. Defense wins game so we're going to have to keep our focus and communicate better on defense, not send people to the foul line a lot, getting out and rebounding and running.

CANDACE PARKER, Tennessee / Naperville, Ill.
On this morning's game versus the USA's first game against China on April 7:
I think we executed our plan very well, we kept them off the free throw line. We did a better job defensively and we did a good job of pushing tempo.

What does this say about the depth of USA Basketball where, first of all, this is a young team, but then you lose a player like Sylvia Fowles and you're still able to dominate?
It's huge. There's a lot of talented basketball players in the United States and we're just scratching the surface with what we can do.

You were the leading scorer in both games against China, do you like playing against them or are your teammates able to give you open looks more against this team?
I think that, coming in and making defense our priority, we're such an athletic team that we can run and push tempo. That's when I think our game is at its best - in the open floor. It's great because our team is so athletic, we're all able to run the floor and push the ball so it helps.

RUTH RILEY, Detroit Shock
On the USA's second quarter run:
That just shows the depth of our team. Coach subbed a lot of people in and out. It shows the talent that we have to come into the game and not have any let downs. It's our roster, being able to throw fresh bodies out there.

Do you feel that you're gelling a little bit more?
Definitely. The first game against China was a little rough, getting here and getting our first experience of playing in a game situation. But we've had a couple of games since then and every game we're getting better.

What do you expect to see against Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) tomorrow?
They definitely play on the perimeter. They drive, kick, everyone can handle the ball. They're feisty, but if we take care of the ball we'll be alright.

TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets
On this morning's game versus the USA's first game against China on April 7:
Our defense was the key thing in this game, we stopped their dribble penetration. Their post players were walking us down and getting in position in the post and we stopped that today. We didn't put them on the line, that was the biggest key for our defense. With them not getting on the line and scoring points, they probably had 20 points in the first half the first time we played them from the free throw line. So cutting that down definitely was the difference in the game.

There are still two more games to go here, what do you still need to work on if you're going to win the tournament?
Offensively we've been really good, but I think the defense has been the key. I'm sure tomorrow in shoot-around we'll work on our defensive rotations. We've been a little late or out of position on that, but if we can get that to a comfortable place we'll be okay.

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