USA 90, Russia 80

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September 14, 2006 • Barueri, Brazil
Story || Box Score || Photos

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
Opening Comments:
We feel very pleased that we were able to beat a very good Russian team tonight. I thought we played well at the start of the game and had moments in the second half where we looked very good and we had moments where we struggled a little bit. So I was very pleased to get a win against a very good team.

Does the 10-point difference say anything about how close the two teams are in talent levels?
We recognize that we have to play very good basketball for 40 minutes to come out ahead. The 10 points reflects on how inconsistent we were in the second half. I think we can play better, I think we can play stronger, and I know Russia can as well. So if we see Russia again you can expect another great contest.

On the USA’s second game with 22 turnovers in as many nights and the difference in the rebounds (42-26, USA):
The rebounding isn’t my concern because Russia is such a great rebounding team. The rebounding margin is pretty hefty for me. The turnovers, you’re right, last night I said that the 22 wouldn’t happen again so here I am sitting here a liar. I do think that that’s our focus, we understand we have to do a good job of taking care of the ball. Last night and tonight the games are closer than we would like and a lot of it has to do with turnovers and we have to work on that.

Was it a matter of Russia cutting off the passing lanes or this team not having played together?
I think that’s some of it. I think some of it is that we’re new. But a lot of the turnovers were unforced against their zone where we didn’t move the ball as well as we would have liked and that was in the second half when they went to their 2-3 zone. When you’re playing against a zone defense the unfamiliarity is going to make you struggle a little more. But I do think we can do a better job of that and I know we will. I’m going to say it again, it’s not going to happen again. Hopefully I won’t sit here a liar a second time.

How far is your team from where you want to be ideally?
I think that the United States, everyday we get better. The first time we had these 12 players together was the first game here, Tuesday the 12th. We are getting better everyday so hopefully when we get to the medal round, if we continue to play good basketball in the next round and get to the medal round, we’ll be playing better than we are right now. I’d say we’re about halfway there to be honest.

On Candace Parker’s play and what kind of role she’ll play as the tournament moves forward:
All of our players, you can watch our minutes our minutes are very balanced because we have so many great players on this team. Candace is one of our great young post players who has been doing a great job coming off of the bench. Tonight I thought she did a great job on (Maria) Stepanova defensively. She is a very good offensive player, able to score as we’ve seen against a number of different teams at this senior level. So every game Candace, with her experience, will get better and help us score. Her role is pretty significant already. It will continue to be significant throughout.


Was this game what you expected, a game of runs?
Yeah, fortunately we played well to start off the game and got out to a really good start and took a pretty big lead and at one point we went up 20 points, but unfortunately we weren't able to close it out. We kept letting them hang around and cut our lead and come back a little bit and that's not something we want to do. When you get up big you need to stay up big.

But for every run they made you seemed to have an answer:
Yeah, which is a good thing. I guess that's the one positive we can tale from this is that it is a win. Regardless how it happened we still managed to pull out the win and that's really what's most important.


The US dominated Russia in rebounding and you seemed to really be working on the boards tonight?
I tried to, to do anything I can to help this team win.

How important was the rebounding tonight?
I think it was really important. That was one of the things we came into the game talking about. They're bigger, they're stronger but we can be quicker. I think the biggest thing for us was getting people on our backs and going and retrieving the boards and that's what we focused on.

How important was it to get this win against a team like Russia heading into the second round?
I think it is important as far as confidence. This obviously was a big test for us and one of the things the coaches had prepared us for since we got here. As a team we came out and wanted to be real focused, wanted to come out and kind of send a message and I think we did a good job.

Definitely. When we see them again...they're always a team that gets better as they play into the tournament and so next time we see them they'll be a totally different team and hopefully we'll be a totally different team too as far as getting better. Next time we meet it will be another great game.


You almost had a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds...
Woo, me nine rebounds? hallelujah, I've been struggling on the boards the past two games, had one one game and two or three the other..

Was that a point of focus for you today?
Most definitely. It's funny how the bigger the competition the more focused you become in different areas and I'm just please to hear you say that.

But most importantly I'm glad that we got the win because as we know Russia is a tough team. Deep bench, big girls and talented all across the board. Tonight was a huge plus for us, even though the way we ended the game was a little disappointing. We had opportunities where we could have spread the gap and just put them away but we allowed them to stay in the game.

How important was it to get out to a good start tonight?
It was huge for us to start this game the way we did. If we had come out lackadaisical they would have found the energy and rammed it down our throats. But we came out fired out, ready to go and ready to play and to match whatever intensity that they brought out against us tonight. We were hitting shots early, getting transition basket, it was just beautiful to see.

How important was it to close out preliminary play on a positive note heading into the second round?
It's always good to finish on a win. It's a morale builder especially when you beat a team that is so good like Russia. We're going to take tomorrow I'm hoping and rest and then come back for the next three game with a new found focus heading into the finals.


You had a really strong first half, how did you feel tonight?
I felt good. We were getting out running and I love to play the transition game, that's my game, so it was a lot of fun...getting out running, controlling the boards, we just got to work on buckling down and finishing out the game..

This is one of your first important games at the senior level, was it what you expected?
I've had some experience playing Russia, I played them in France when I went when I 14 or 15, so I know they are tough and they basketball from a young age. I thought they were a great team but we took care of business and we just got to continue to never let up.

Defensively at times the U.S. really seemed to step up and prevent them from getting anything going?
In the first five minutes of the game we hit consecutive threes and we were keeping them from scoring, but like I said we can't let up.


Coming in to the game what did you think about Russia?
We always respect Russia. We played them in the gold medal game in Athens at the Olympics. We respect all their players and coaches so whenever we go at them we want to play hard. Today I think for the most part we did a pretty good job. We've got a lot of things to fix for the next round.

Do you think it is possible that another team can beat the United States?
Anything is possible, but as long we go out there and give a good effort and do the things we do well we're confident.

You hit a couple of big threes in the third quarter to turn back Russia comeback effort
I think the whole game I was probably a little passive, coach Donovan said shoot, shoot, but we have so many weapons on this team that we have to distribute the wealth a little bit, but I hit those two threes and it gave us a little bit of cushion.


Opening Comments:
I agree with coach in that we came out and started the game strong. But there were times during the game where we let our guard down and let Russia back into the game. They’re a good team so, I think that when you have a lead of 18 or 20 points you have to do your best to maintain and not let them get back into their comfort zones.

On her shooting against Russia (7-11 FGs, 4-4 3PT FGs):
I think partially it was a good shooting night, but I was pretty open a lot of the time. I think probably three of them were uncontested and I think that at this level you can’t let players take wide open shots. It’s something we practice everyday and I was surprised myself that I got those looks – but happy that I was able to knock them down.


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