USA 79, Nigeria 46

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September 13, 2006 • Barueri, Brazil
Story || Box Score || Photos

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
Opening Comments:
I agree with DeLisha. We came out of the gates really playing well, our first quarter was brilliant. And then it’s difficult, I think, to maintain that intensity, that drive, when the score is .. the gap becomes that great. I think we fell prey to that a little bit.

But I will say that there were goals defensively, things we wanted to accomplish, and we met those goals tonight. I’m pleased with that. I know that our focus can be better throughout a 40-minute game and it will be better. Overall I thought it was a great effort. The one area we can do much better with is taking care of the ball. This is an anomaly, you won’t see this team turn the ball over again 20 times I hope.

Most coaches would be happy with a 33-point margin of victory. But can you speak to the turnovers (22) and the offensive rebounds (7)?
We shot almost 60 percent for the game (from inside the arc) so there’s not that many offensive boards that are coming off. It can be better, we can be a bit more focused on that. We had lapses, there’s no doubt that we had lapses in this game and I don’t anticipate, in a closer game, we’ll have those same lapses. We’re all geared up. Nobody looked (past Nigeria and) ahead to Russia, but we know Russia is tomorrow and that’s a good match-up. We’re going to have to play well for 40 minutes, you can’t have one good quarter and then go to sleep. I’m sure we’ll be ready and we’ll do a better job of taking care of the ball. We had eight turnovers yesterday, we had 22 today, so I would say we’re somewhere in between those two games.

Opening Comments about the game:
It wasn't our best game but I think it was a good game and it showed that we can actually fight through difficulties like turning the ball over, or like when team makes a run we can make our own run. It was a well fought game but it wasn't our prettiest.

After the first quarter was it hard to keep focus?
Yeah, but you can't get caught up in the score. Nigeria was a tough team, they came out and started hitting some shots that they were missing in the first quarter. But for the most part I think we were happy with what we did in the first quarter, we just wish we could be consistent throughout all four quarters.

What about your next opponent Russia?
We've got watch film tomorrow, but we know it is going to be a very hard fought game. They're a tough team and they have some players we already know from the States, so we know what they can do and what they can bring to their team.


Was this a tough game because of the strong start by the U.S. in the first quarter?
No. I give Nigeria a lot of credit. They played really well tonight. They're a very physical team and I think they just did a good job of staying aggressive even though they got down pretty badly in the first quarter.

What about tomorrow and playing Russia:
It’s going to be a tough game. Because I played over there I obviously know a lot of their players well and all they talk about is beating the US and it is something they have been training for for the last three or four months. So I know they're going to be ready and we definitely have to match that.

What will it take to get the win:
I think it's going to start for us on the defensive end and hopefully just let that create our offense, and then once we get to the offensive end really execute. But more so on the defensive end, knowing their personnel and playing style.


About the game tonight, was it a tough game to play after getting the lead?
I think it was tough overall. We came out and played well, even though we kind of had our lapses in the second and third quarters, in the fourth quarter I feel like we came out and stepped it up a notch and that's what we needed to do.

This game gave the team an opportunity to run and work with different combinations and focus on continuing to improve:
Definitely, since we really haven't had a lot of time to prepare and having Cheryl (Ford) and Katie (Smith) come at the last minute I think Anne is trying to take advantage of looking at any combo mix she can and she's doing a great job. As players we don't look at how much time we've spent together, we just try to go out and do a good job.

You've played against Russia before so you know what to expect right?
Oh yeah, it's going to be a tough physical game and we're going to have to come out and start how we've been starting. We kind of jumped on China early and that's what we're going to have do, jump on them early and keep it rolling.


How did you feel out there tonight?

Are you starting to feel you're getting adjusted to being here?
Just a little bit. We went over some more plays at shoot-around this morning. I'm just tired. I just have to get my wind.

What about playing Russia, a team that is physical and strong inside. What will you bring:
My usual game. I like to play physical so I used to it. So I'll try to play defense and rebound.


Opening comments:
We set out with some goals before the game started and we did a good job of achieving those goals. But overall if I had to grade our play today I would say that we weren’t on our normal level as far as USA Basketball is concerned. We really didn’t shoot the ball all that well today. I felt that if we did shoot the ball as well as we did yesterday the score would have been larger than what it was. But overall, when you go out to play you want to get the win ultimately, but tonight was a game where we were playing a team that was very physical. They’re athletic as well, so we really have to concentrate on the defensive end. We showed moments of greatness and we showed moments of weakness. I’m sure that this is something that coach Anne Donovan will address in the coming days.

On playing against Russia Thursday night:
Everyone on their team is a top player, starting with their starting five and then maybe their next three subs coming off the bench. They’re a vital part of their teams that they play on in Russia.

What we can expect tomorrow is ... we know that Russia is very big from the two on down to the five. That can cause a lot of problems for a team as far as getting into the lane and they can always contest the shot or contesting a shot on the outside. We’re going to have to play perfect basketball tomorrow. We’re going to have to move the basketball, make them move from side to side, I think that will probably be their weakness. When you’re that tall, you’re normally limited in some area. It’s normally moving laterally. We’ll have to attack them that way, get out and run, and really keep the ball out of the inside defensively for them. Because if they get it inside you can count on two points.


Opening Comments about the game:
The game was very physical. I thought we did a good job of staying in control, controlling the boards. Definitely our defensive rebounding can improve but I think overall we did a good job of holding our own against their physical posts.

Is it hard to keep your focus in a game like this one where you jump out ahead 20-1?
We said we're playing for ourselves, were not playing against an opponent. That's something we've tried to maintain focus by saying that to ourselves. But I think it got a little hard, but we've got to think and we've got play to get better every possession no matter what the score is.

Russia is next, what do you think?
From what I know Russia is a very good team and just hearing about them finishing in the top two or three every year. I think they're a great team. I hear they've got size and they can shoot the 3-pointer so we definitely have to bring our "A" game tomorrow.


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