September 16, 2006 Barueri, Brazil
Story || Box
head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
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 Cubas 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.
Theyve really been challenged. With the absence of Lisa Leslie and
Yolanda Griffith, its been a source of pride for our post players
to really step up and make sure were 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
Bouclets 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 USAs next match-up against
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. Theyre 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 well have to be disciplined,
well 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 thats going to demand
some respect. Audrey Saurets been on this team for 15 years or more
and does a great job leading the team.
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, 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.
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 thats to our
advantage. I think we have to watch our turnovers, but thats something
were looking to correct in the next couple of days.
As the youngest on the team, how do you
feel about playing with such stars?
Its a tremendous honor to be on this team. Ive grown
up watching these players play. Sometimes I really cant believe
Im here. They really have shown me the ropes a lot. One of my biggest
mentors on this team is Tina Thompson. Shes really been in my ear,
giving me encouragement, and when things arent going well shes
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 its
a lot different than the American game.
Do you feel pressured playing with so many
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. Im 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.
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.
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.
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
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.