September 21, 2006 Sao Paulo, Brazil
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head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
I want to really congratulate Russia, I thought they played a great game.
They came out and shot better than they had all tournament. So this was
the time when you have to step up and perform and I thought Russia did
a great job with that tonight. Hats off to them. We made valiant runs
a couple of times deep into the game, in the fourth quarter twice, but
Russias lead was too great for us to come back. Congratulations
to them, they played a great game.
Did you maybe under estimate Russia?
I dont think so. Historically we know that Russia plays better
when it counts and thats the medal rounds. Players like Sheryl Swoopes
(have seen it) and a lot of our younger players saw it in Athens. So we
are well aware that Russia has a different level of play and they just
went higher. Again, they shot the ball better than they had come close
to shooting all tournament long.
Is this a disappointing loss?
No question its disappointing. The United States isnt
use to losing when we get to the medal rounds, so itll take a little
while for us to bounce back. And we intend to bounce back. We know Brazil
is a very good team, theyve played good basketball here, of course
the fans are going to be out. Im confident that were going
to find a way to get motivated to go home with a win. Were not looking
to go home with a loss.
Did their post play cause you problems,
especially with the absence of a true center like Lisa Leslie or Yolanda
Theres no question that their experience and size in the post caused
us problems. But we had many shots that hit the rim that we just didnt
finish. I think that (6-8 center Maria) Stepanova did a great job, she
was probably in our minds even when she wasnt close to the ball.
I think it effected our shooting down low. And rebounding, we havent
been outrebounded at all so this is a first for that as well. It was just
one of those games, it was not our night.
On the USAs shooting:
I thought we had good looks, we had many attempts, we had 70 shots,
we had more looks than they did. We just didnt knock the ball down.
We did not shoot the ball very well, 27-for-70 is my count, we had good
looks we just didnt convert.
On the pressure defense in the fourth quarter:
Our pressure defense did mix it up, no question. We have a very
good pressing team and we have a very good offensive team. When youre
down you need not only to press, but to be able to score points. Our first
group is a much better offensive team than they are a pressing team. We
went completely to our bench at that point to try to come back and generate
Comments on the game:
I don't think the USA showed up tonight, we played in spurts and
in the fourth quarter when we started pressing I think that's when you
saw our true competitive nature come out. But jump ball until the fourth
quarter I don't think our competitive nature ever came out. Russia looked
liked they owned the basketball court. They were moving freely, passing
freely and shooting open shots, while on our end it seemed like we went
away from our game plan and we were trying to force the issue and win
the game with one bucket instead of trying to chip away at it one basket
at a time.
There were points in the game where we had the momentum then the momentum
would leave when they would hit a wide open three, or get that offensive
rebound and that put back. We put them on the foul line with seven minutes
left in the third quarter, you know that's a long time to p;lay defense
without fouling, every time we fouled them they went to the foul line
We helped them a lot but they also did a lot of things to help themselves
win the game so you have to give credit where credit is due.
Next up is the host country Brazil:
This is a huge game. We don't want to leave here without a medal. The
destination was the gold medal but we fell short of that and the next
best thing to do is get this bronze medal and walk away with a win. Coach
Donovan she spoke on this. She said 'we will not leave here without a
win, you can't leave on a losing note.' So Saturday we're going to come
out fired and we're really going to try that message that we should have
Russia had a 37-33 advantage in rebounding,
it was the first time the U.S. didn't win the rebounding, was it a factor
in the game?
Most definitely. If we can beat a team like Russia in rebounding that
means we'll probably more than like win the game. But for them to control
the boards the way they did and shoot the ball as well as they did, then
we're in for a long night.
What does this say about women's basketball
around the world?
The Czech Republic, the Brazilians, the Russians, everyone is improving.
The younger players that are coming up, it's a different breed of basketball
now. It's not that old school type of basketball, players are out and
running and jumping higher, shooting better, so the game in itself has
become a nice thing to see. I'm glad for that evolution because I think
fans we'll see that advancement and really be able to appreciate women's
In the third quarter the team really struggled
to score and Russia was getting some transition baskets:
Yeah, when you're not shooting the ball well
you got to be able to limit them on the defensive end. They shot the ball
extremely well partly because they can knock down shots and partly because
we allowed them to penetrate and kick and pick us apart a little bit.
We couldn't get anything really going offensively and then on the defense
end it just kind of snowballed. We made a run there, but when you're down
20 against a team like this you're going to extend a lot of energy and
it's going to take a couple of breaks here and there to get back on top
and take the lead. But we've got to give Russia credit, they came out
ready to play today and we didn't come out at the jump ready to get it
Can you take anything out
of rallying back to within five?
Obviously its a pride thing, but it also leaves a taste in you mouth and
you say 'why couldn't we do that a little earlier?' Top to bottom, it's
all of us, we come in a do our part and do just the little things. If
were not scoring, they can't score. Obviously we're never going to give
up and this team didn't do that. It's just I wish we had done that throughout
the whole game and it might have been a different story.
Now you have the hosts Brazil
in the bronze medal game:
This place is going to be wild and not many people cheering for
us. Brazil has had a phenomenal tournament, they lost a tough one to Australia,
so we have our work cut out for us Saturday. We have to regroup, focus
on them and get us hopefully another win but we're going to have to come
ready to play or it's going to be a long day. I think we'll bounce back
well and it's always nice to have another game after a loss so you can
prove yourself again.
I feel that Russia came out and played exceptionally well. At the
start of the game I knew it was going to be a lot different than the first
time we played. They played very well, I thought there were spurts in
the game where we tried to make runs and we were almost there. But as
coach Donovan said, at that point the lead was just too great and we had
to fight really hard to try to get back into the game. They shot the ball
probably better than anybody else has shot the ball in this tournament.
There were times where they might have wanted it a little more than we
did. Unfortunately we wont be playing for the gold medal, but we
have to pick our heads up. We have another tough game. We hope to come
out and play well against Brazil. Its going to be tough.
You were on the team in 1994 that lost
in the semifinals. How did you get motivated to come back and win the
bronze medal and how can you help this team do it?
I dont even know how I did it then. But I know that I had
older players who helped me understand what this is all about, who helped
me understand how to come back from such a huge loss. Its very disappointing
and Im glad that we actually have a day in between to be able to
reflect back on what we did wrong. Its going to be hard, knowing
that were not going to be playing for the gold medal. I think everybody
is disappointed, from the coaching staff, the players, everybody here.
But I know that nobody wants to go home without a medal. Even though thats
not going to be gold, not going to be silver, I dont want to go
home empty handed. None of us do. The fact that were actually going
to be playing Brazil in their country, all the fans who were there tonight
booing against us, we know its going to be 10 times worse when we
play them on Saturday. I hope the fact that we lost this game, the fact
that we still have pride, I hope those things combined are enough to get
everybody motivated to play on Saturday. Not just show up. I dont
want to just show up and go through the motions. I want to play hard,
I want to win, beat Brazil and go home with a medal. Hopefully everybody
else will feel the same way.
On playing through booing crowds:
As a player its not really something that we hear. I dont.
Its not something we really pay attention to. For us, we use it
as motivation. I think when you are at the top and youve been at
the top, people want to knock you down and see you fall. I think people
feel that pulling for the other team and cheering against us is going
to help motivate the other team. On the other hand, I think it just does
the opposite, it motivates us. I know as players, and as coaches, we really
dont get caught up in whos doing what, whos saying that.
We came here to try to play a game, we came here to try and give the fans
great basketball. I hope we did that. Well see who they cheer for
in the Russia-Australia (game). I think who theyll be rooting for
in that game will be very interesting.
Comments on the game:
Russia played well. They made a lot of shots, a lot of plays and
when you let them do that it's hard to win the game. But our hats are
off to them, we've got to come back now and get the game Saturday.
The USA didn't quit and fought back in
the fourth quarter:
I think we showed a lot of heart in that fourth quarter bringing their
lead down to single digits. They just played really well tonight, it was
their night. Now we have to regroup and get ready for Brazil.