September 17, 2006 Barueri, Brazil
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head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
In the third quarter I thought we came out and put the hammer down. Weve
been talking about doing that, I thought we did a good job against Cuba
in the second half last night, and then tonight we did the same thing.
Kudos to this team that continues to get better each day, which is our
Do you think that France, in the first
half, was one of the toughest teams youve faced since the World
I would say France is stronger defensively than anyone else weve
seen. They mix it up a little bit with the full-court pressure, the trapping,
full-court man-to-man. So they kept the pressure on our point guard bringing
the ball up. I thought they did a great job defensively. They forced a
lot of turnovers, which has been our focus, not to turn the ball over.
And the other thing we talked about, our staff talked about before the
game, is that France gets 10 more shots a game than their opponents and
they do that because theyre such a good defensive team. Again tonight,
they got 11 more shots than we did. They continue to create opportunities
for themselves and put themselves in a nice position.
On the teams defense allowing just two
points in the final 12:48 of the game:
I give a lot of credit to this
team because its not easy to come into training camp after a WNBA
season. With the exception of (collegian) Candace Parker, youve
got all WNBA players working hard on defense. That was our goal. Having
been in Athens this group understood that we could probably sustain offensively,
but we really needed to pick it up defensively from what we did in Athens.
Theyre committed to that. Were looking closely at what other
teams are doing quarter by quarter and taking note in the fourth quarter
today we just allowed two points. I think 17 points is what Cuba had in
the second half yesterday and 14 points were scored today in the second
half. This team is really getting after it at that end of the floor and
it speaks a lot to the kind of players they are. Theyre not just
all-star, superstar players, but theyre committed to the little
things, the things that typically your all-stars want to do and that is
On the Czech Republic, the USAs next
opponent in second round play:
Ds (Diana Taurasi) right. Especially the third game in three
days, its always the toughest game from a mental standpoint to get
out and get after it, concentrate on not making mental mistakes. Im
looking forward to this match-up. Czech is obviously a great team, beating
Russia today. Theyre just solid at every position, they have a great
point guard that runs their show, so were going to have to contain
her. Like Diana said, there are many threats on that team, well
have to play really solid. Id like to see us get out and run a little
bit more. I thought France did a great job taking away some of our transition
so were going to have to get back to that pace tomorrow, thats
when were at our best.
Are you satisfied with the play of Michelle
Snow and Cheryl Ford or are you worried about the absence of Yolanda Griffith
and Lisa Leslie? You dont seem to have what you need with those
I dont know if I agree with that. Snow last night against
Cuba played 12 minutes and had nine rebounds. Thats what we need.
We need her to rebound the basketball and thats why shes on
this team. Cheryl Ford is still ... I mean, give this girl some credit.
Shes had no training (with this team) at all. She missed the six
weeks in the spring, came right out of a WNBA championship and joined
this team. Here we are, (six) days later where shes still trying
to pick things up as she goes. Tina (Thompson) and DeLisha (Milton-Jones)
are great for us, they start us off in the right way. Candace Parker has
been huge, as you know, with a big role on this team. And Snow and Cheryl
are doing exactly what they need to do. They take great pride in making
sure that there isnt a hole, that theres no more void or weakness
in our post game in the absence of Lisa or Yolanda. These five post players
have done a great job filling it in and changing the style that we play.
Comments on the game:
They came out really aggressive both offensively and defensively,
I think they did a good job. I think we just wore them down on the defensive
end and it opened things up offensively particularly in the second half.
France shot just 22 percent for the game
and seemed to get frustrated:
Like I said, I think we did a great job of playing defense. Our
offense wasn't exactly what we wanted, not exactly what you've seen in
past games, but our defense really kept us in this game and kept us going
and then in the second half ... two points in the fourth quarter, that
says it all right there.
What do you know about your next opponent
the Czech Republic, have you seen them?
I've seen them a little bit. I remember them from the Olympics,
it's virtually the same team, they're very good. They have a lot of players
who are tall and who can shoot the ball and do a lot of good things, so
it's going to be a good game. And they're pretty confident, they've had
some good wins over a lot good teams.
The game was a defensive battle where you
had to play them tough
we definitely came into the game with that mindset, that it was
going to be a physical game and that we were going to have to play better
defensively and offensively. We started the game off really tough and
built on it a little by little. The second half was probably the best
that we've had thus far. I know everybody that played, starters, players
off the bench, everybody, as a whole we locked into our system. The only
thing we need to work on still is offensive rebounding and turnovers.
Next is Czech Republic and they're playing
Yeah, they're doing really well. I think the one thing about the
Czech Republic is that they are so methodical, so text book. I know from
playing with Zuzaba Klimesova she makes everything look so easy because
it is so text book. As a team we have to come out and do the same things
we did tonight, play really well in the first quarter to get us started
off with a bang and then just keep it moving.
Does it help to have played France and
Russia who play a similar style?
They all, in a way, play the same kind of system. I think having
the experience against France going into the Czech Republic tomorrow will
help. From also watching them play before I think we have a better feeling
about them and I know our coaches will do a great job preparing us.
Was the game what you expected?
It was, they made us play defense for the entire
shot clock and they really were kicking our butts in the first half on
the offensive boards. In the second half we had to make that effort to
block them out and guards had to come in and help us rebound because the
rebounds were coming long.
We matched the intensity they
brought. They were really trying to pressure us for 94 feet and really
tried to disrupt our offense in the half court, but we remained calm,
our experience came into play and we were able to expand the lead and
we just took the game over at that point.
Do you think the
USA Depth wore France down?
Most definitely. When we come into the game, no matter who it is, whether
it is a guard or a post, we want them out and running and that can break
a team's back. When you're playing good hard defense and then someone
with fresh legs comes in and gets an easy two, and it's like 'dang.'
I thought it was a really good game
for us. Obviously France has been playing really good basketball, but
we came out in the first quarter and dictated the tempo from the get-go,
which is what we wanted to do. France didnt go away in the second
quarter, they played really tough. We put emphasis on that third quarter
and I think thats what put us over the top in the game.
France is a good team. They played well in the first quarter and then
stepped it up defensively in the second. At the same time I think we did
some things that are uncharacteristic of our team. But we got it back
in the third quarter, in the fourth quarter, so it was good.
Was it frustrating having those two early
fouls and having to sit through the second quarter?
Its always frustrating not to be on the court. The beauty
of this team is that you have so many great players that you really can
put anyone in there. But it is always nicer to be on the court.
On her third-quarter scoring:
Obviously when youve been sitting on the bench you want to
come in and make a little bit of an impact, but I just got a couple good
looks that hit the basket. It ended up working out really well.
On the teams defense allowing just
two points in the final 12:48 of the game:
Coming into this tournament, as a group I think that was our biggest
focus in training camp. For two weeks thats what weve worked
on. We knew teams coming into the World Championship, like France, could
shoot the 3-ball, have great inside play. You have to shut one of them
down, if not both. Today we did a pretty good job of helping each other
on defense, which is the key. And limiting 3-point shots, I dont
think they made many, and (shutting down) their inside play, which is
very strong. The coaches got us prepared with film and a good strategy
and I think we put it to work.
On her shooting (23-39 / 59.0 percent from
the floor and 12-23 / 52.2 percent from 3-point) through five games:
When you play with a team like this, you get so many great opportunities
because you have, one, a great point guard in Sue (Bird) who gives you
great looks. Then youve got Tina (Thompson) and DeLisha (Milton-Jones),
theres so much focus on them that kind of leaves us with good looks
on the outside, theyve been going in and thats been good for
the team. But offensively, were doing a good job of moving the ball
and whenever we do that were pretty confident in getting a good
shot every time down the court. Luckily in the third quarter today I got
some good looks and they went in and it got us going a little bit. Thats
our strength, a lot of people getting involved.
On the Czech Republic, the USAs next
opponent in second round play:
The Czech team is probably one of the toughest match-ups for anyone
in the tournament. Theyre so big, they can shoot at any position
so its going to be a tough match-up for us defensively. Defensively
were going to have to continue doing what we do and thats
get out on the break and make good decisions. Tomorrows going to
be a good test for us going into the medal rounds and we want to close
it out with a good statement.
Was the game what you expected?
I think so. I think that in the first half we came out really strong,
then we just kind of had a little lull there where we were playing at
a moderate level and we turned the ball over a couple of time. In the
second half it was like a true example of how we are and how we play,
defensively we definitely turned it up and turned the ball over less and
got into our offensive flow and that's always good. But France came out
and played, they played really strong and we figured that. We just want
to wear people down and I think from that perspective it was definitely
everything that we expected. Teams come out and they definitely give us
their best and sometimes it's too much for them because we continue to
come off the bench with strong players that are well rested who are playing
at the same level so it makes it a lot easier for us.
There's no rest,
next is the Czech Republic who is really playing well:
No one is playing bad. Some teams are better than the others or just stronger
than the others. The Czech Republic is a tough game but we expect every
game from here on out to be tough. We're moving forward toward the medal
round and usually the better teams are moving n. We're going to get up
for tomorrow just like we did today and like we did in the games before
and hope to have the same good effort.