USA - Cuba
   



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September 16, 2006 • Barueri, Brazil
Story || Box Score

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
Opening Comments:
We were really interested to see Cuba in the first round, they played better every game. In their last game against France they played tremendously. So we knew we had to come out with a great effort and we did. Once again we started the game very well. We've played two games where in the second half we played with not the same intensity that we started the game. I thought tonight the women did a great job of keeping focused and putting the hammer down in the second half and not letting Cuba come back. We know they're very capable, they shot the three-ball pretty well early in the game. When they went to the zone it slowed us down a little bit. We looked in the second half to really stop their offensive glass, get out in transition even more and we did both of those things. I thought that helped us seal it. Good effort by us in the second half, which is something that we've been talking about doing.

On shutting down Cuba’s leading scorer, Yayma Bouclet Peillon, who averaged 23.3 ppg. coming into the contest and was held to six tonight:
I have to give a whole lot of credit to our five post players. They’ve really been challenged. With the absence of Lisa Leslie and Yolanda Griffith, it’s been a source of pride for our post players to really step up and make sure we’re not left with a really big void or hole, and I think all of our post players have done a good job. Dawn Staley had the scout on this team and did a good job talking about Bouclet’s tendencies. So I think our post players were very focused on it. Candace Parker being one of the ones who came in and did a great job getting onto her left hand and forcing her to be a little uncomfortable in what she was doing.

On the USA’s next match-up against France
I talked to their staff after their loss to Cuba and they really felt like yesterday, in their day off, they needed to regroup. Obviously they regrouped pretty well, beating Russia today. They’re a very disciplined, balanced team that can go a number of different ways in their attack. A very different style than Cuba. Cuba is a great transition team, France is very good in the half court. So we’ll have to be disciplined, we’ll have to play a much better defense without putting them on the free throw line. And recognizing their personnel, they have great shooters on that team, they have an inside game that’s going to demand some respect. Audrey Sauret’s been on this team for 15 years or more and does a great job leading the team.

 

DeLISHA MILTON-JONES
About tonight's game, it looked physical:
It was physical, they're big on the inside and very aggressive around the perimeter. Tonight coming into this game I was a little nervous because I know Cuba, they can be the toughest competition for us because they are so similar to our style of play. They're big, they're long, they're athletic and they like to run and that's us. But tonight we were able to shut them down early and I think by us defeating them early in the first quarter that kind of set the pace for the rest of the game and they were never able to recover from the vicious left hook that we gave them.

What about your next opponent France?
France, wow, we conquered one giant tonight and we have another one to face tomorrow. France is a team that will run their system till they can't run it any more. We're going to have to play defense for 24 seconds probably each possession , and that's going to be a huge task for us because sometimes defenses tend to get lazy as the shot clock runs down. So we're going to have to make a conscious effort for the entire time they have the ball.

 

CANDACE PARKER
Opening Comments:
I feel like we came out and got off to a really quick start. In the second quarter we kind of let up a little bit. But we controlled the boards, we ran, we were really up-tempo and I think that’s to our advantage. I think we have to watch our turnovers, but that’s something we’re looking to correct in the next couple of days.

As the youngest on the team, how do you feel about playing with such stars?
It’s a tremendous honor to be on this team. I’ve grown up watching these players play. Sometimes I really can’t believe I’m here. They really have shown me the ropes a lot. One of my biggest mentors on this team is Tina Thompson. She’s really been in my ear, giving me encouragement, and when things aren’t going well she’s always been there telling me what to do and the tricks of the trade. Everybody has really helped me out in learning the international game because it’s a lot different than the American game.

Do you feel pressured playing with so many great players?
I just try to relax and just play. Training camp helped me out a lot, get rid of the jitters and things like that. I think the most difficult thing for me to adjust to as opposed to the college game is how physical it is and how much more they allow you to play. I’m more of a finesse kind of person in the post and sometimes you need to put a little shoulder into it and not think so much. That was the hardest thing for me.

 

SHERYL SWOOPES
It wasn't until the first game that you al played together, is that hard?
For some (it's difficult to play together ), myself, Tina and Michelle played together in Houston so obviously that's not very difficultfor us. But any time you play for a different coach and you're playing with different players it's always going to take time to gel, to find the right chemistry and understand the system. A lot of us have been in this situation before but we played for different coaches. Every coach is different, Coach Donovan's systems is a lot different from Coach Chancellor, so we all have to make adjustments. The good thing about it is we all have the opportunity to play against each other in the WNBA so we tend to know what players like to do even though we play against them. So when we do get together it doesn't take as long as it would normally to understand what all the players like to do.

Do you like the system you play?
I love the way we play, I like out style I think one of our biggest strengths is to run the ball - rebound the ball, get out in transition, run it and not ever have to set up a half court offense if that's possible. But at the same time if we have to slow the ball down, or teams try to slow us down, I think we have a lot of great offensive weapons. Any player is capable of scoring 20 points on any given night. The thing about it is everybody wants to win, so one night Tina might be hot, the next night it might be DeLisha, teams can't just concentrate on stopping one payer - say 'if we stop this player we're going to win' because we have so many offensive weapons. It's a great mix of players, we have young players, we have older players, players who have been here before, players who have never been here before, so it's a great mix of players.

You have played for many USA teams and won everything, how do you keep the motivation?
By trying to win another one. People ask me that al the time, they say 'you've won World Championships, Olympic gold medals, why do you continue to do it?' For me there is still a lot of fun there. The fun, the excitement of it are still there and I love the competition. Every year other countries are getting a lot better which makes it tougher for us. I love to be here and watch the competition. This year is a little different, I'm just excited about getting the opportunity to watch a lot of the younger players. This will be my last World Championship so to be able to be here and watch the young players and see the up and coming payers it feels good to know that when I leave the game I'll be leaving the game in good hands.

 

DIANA TAURASI
You got 10 points in the first quarter and got things going pretty good:
They came out in that zone and we pushed the tempo and got some good looks and knocked them down and after that I think everyone settled in and we got everyone else involved.

When you got that first shot to go, did you start to feel it?
If you make the first one it always feels good and today was no different. That first one went in from the corner and then the others just kind of dropped.

It was a physical game wasn't it?
Cuba is always a physical game, you're going to feel afterwards, but you know we need games like this to get us ready for other rounds.

What do you think about your next opponent?
France is tough. They beat Russia today. They are a very good fundamental team. They have good players at every position, they have a strong bench which is unusual for teams here at the World Championships.

 

TINA THOMPSON
Tonight's game featured teams who play similar styles and the U.S. seemed able to shut them down:
I think a lot had to do with the depth of our bench. Cuba is a good team, they're really strong, but the fact that we kind of pushed the tempo and continued to bring players fresh off the bench with the same intensity helped a lot. They are a good team, very physical. But we look forward to that. Teams are going to be physical with us, they have to be in my opinion to compete consistently. It was an all around great win, we shot pretty good, we're going to work on those turnovers, but otherwise everything was great.

France is next:
France in my opinion is very fundamentaly sound. They really kind of control their tempo and play their game. We're going to try and force them to play our kind of basketball and contain them defensively and not let them stay in their comfort zones because any team in this tournament if you allow them to play to their comfort zone its going to be hard to beat them so that's what we try to do, we try to make everybody uncomfortable.

 


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