September 14, 2006 Barueri, Brazil
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head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
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 USAs second game with 22 turnovers
in as many nights and the difference in the rebounds (42-26, USA):
The rebounding isnt my concern because Russia is such a great
rebounding team. The rebounding margin is pretty hefty for me. The turnovers,
youre right, last night I said that the 22 wouldnt happen
again so here I am sitting here a liar. I do think that thats 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 thats some of it. I think some of it is that were
new. But a lot of the turnovers were unforced against their zone where
we didnt 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 youre
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. Im going to say it again, its not going
to happen again. Hopefully I wont 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, well be playing better than we are right
now. Id say were about halfway there to be honest.
On Candace Parkers play and what
kind of role shell 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 weve
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
Was this game what you expected, a game
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
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
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
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.
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. Theyre 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 cant let players take wide open
shots. Its something we practice everyday and I was surprised myself
that I got those looks but happy that I was able to knock them