USA 99, Brazil 59

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Additional Quotes

September 23, 2006 • Sao Paulo, Brazil
Story || Box Score || Photos

Additional Audio (mp3) Quotes: Augustus || Beard || Bird || Catchings || Ford || Milton-Jones || Parker || Smith || Snow || Swoopes || Taurasi || Taurasi Part 2 || Thompson || Press Conference || Roar of the Crowd

USA head coach ANNE DONOVAN, Seattle Storm
Opening Comments about the game:
We knew we had to bounce back. We knew that not just Brazil would be ready, but we knew the fans would be ready. We knew we had to be ready to play a great game, so our mental preparation and our emotional preparation had to be high. I give a lot of credit to the girls. They came in knowing that it was going to be very hostile and we had to match up. Brazil’s been playing such good basketball. We knew we had to come out and play our best game in order to walk away with the bronze. We did have a good game, it was one of those days for us, very different from our game against Russia. I give Brazil a whole lot of credit for a great tournament and a great finish despite the score.

What would the impact be of the USA not winning the gold medal, and what do you think will be the outcome of the gold medal game?
It definitely impacts women’s basketball in the world. What people seem to have forgotten is that we had this 50-game winning streak, we won all these gold medals, but for the last (several years) it’s been very competitive. We haven’t waltzed away with anything since the Olympics in Australia. Since then it’s been very competitive. I think now there’s a little chink in our armor and how we respond is the key. This was the first game in that response, so I’m very pleased with how we came out against a very good Brazilian team in a very tough environment. We have to fight to get it back, but I know that we will.

The game at 2:00 p.m. is going to be very competitive. Russia played the best basketball we’ve seen them play (against the USA) so it’ll be interesting to see if they can put two games like that together.

On the final World Championship game for both Janeth Arcain and Sheryl Swoopes:
They are two of the all-time greats. Janeth, it’s great to see here again, we’ve missed her in the WNBA. I’m sorry to hear that she’s talking about (playing) just one more year because she’s still got game obviously. We were actually talking about that, the coaching staff in warm-ups, trying to figure out how much more she could go. As an opponent, I’ll be happy to see you retire (talking to Arcain), but as somebody who admires your game so much, stick with it you have so much.

And Swoopes, I can’t say enough about Sheryl. She’s been injured, was questionable on this trip and yet she decided to come. She wasn’t able to perform the way we know she can perform, but her leadership was second to no one. Being the captain of this team, in particular due to the loss to Russia and being able to come back with such focus, I thought Sheryl was instrumental throughout this tournament in how well we played.

On any changes in the way the USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team would prepare in the future due to the bronze medal finish:
We had six weeks of spring training so we’ve already stated to make that commitment out front in the time periods we can before the WNBA season and immediately after. There will be no more national team program like there was in ‘95 because the world and the game has changed so much. But the commitment from the players to come to those training segments is what will be important. It’s quality versus quantity. Again, the continuity of these players to continue every summer, the qualifying tournament next year and into Beijing is what will help us. I don’t think we’ll need to completely revamp like we did in ‘95. These players are good enough, we just need a little more experience.

It seemed like you did a great job of getting everyone going, getting them relaxed and in the flow if the game:
It felt good. The last two games against Russia and Lithuania we didn't really get out to our normal good start and that's what everybody was talking about. Also, no letting the crowd get into it and that's even more of what we were talking about and I think we did a good of that. Brazil is a good team, they're going to make shots, they're going to make plays. But every time they did something we came right back at them and that's really what gave us the advantage in the game.

Could you feel everybody getting in a comfort zone?
I think for us this was an emotional game, we didn't want to leave without a medal. But also going against a Brazil team who has 10,000 people cheering for them on their home soil and they don't want to leave without a medal. So it was a very emotional game. I think for us we just calmed down, we played the way we wanted to play, we played the way we normally play and "D" (Diana Taurasi) was just ridiculous in the second half and opened it up for us

With it being an early morning game, did it help to have a big crowd?
Yeah, it kind of woke you up. Right now it's like 11:30 a.m. and I don't feel like that at all. I think it took some time to get everyone's adrenaline flowing, but the music was loud, the crowd was cheering and I think it definitely helped jump start us.

Comments on the game:
I think we were really disappointed and really looking forward to another test. One of the things we knew coming into today's game was that we were going to have to be mentally focused, mentally prepared for this team. Brazil playing on their home turf, they always do really well and we just needed to respond.

The USA team seemed relaxed and able to get in a groove early:
I think so, we wanted to have fun. That's the last thing Anne said before we left, 'hey, have fun." Yeah we wanted to win, yeah we want to complete the task, complete our journey together, but have fun while doing that. With that being a lasting memory, that's what we took away from it.

Does this win helped take was some of the disappoint of the last game?
I think so. This isn't the game we wanted to play in but okay we were off and we hard to figure out another route to go. We came out today and we played really focused and we just had fun and that's what it's all about.

Comments about the game:
We came out and took care of business early and just never looked back. Ww all were fired up. It's hard to get fired up for a bronze medal game but we looked at it like it was our gold medal game and playing against the host country we had to come out and start early.

Did it help to get out to a start where shots were falling early?
I think so, but I think we also learned that we've got to come out playing defense no matter what.

What about the crowd?
I think we fed off the crowd. Anne stressed using the energy no matter if it was against you or for you, just using it for our advantage and we did.

Comments about the game:
It was great, it was nice to come out and have everybody play, hard, no let down. We're obviously disappointed about our performance last time we came out but we came out here and represented ourselves and the USA well and finished off on a high note. This is something to build on and hopefully this will motivate us and keep us plugging away for next summer's qualifier and then Beijing. We're obviously a little disappointed but we're very happy with the way we finished this thing out.

It was an early game, did it help having a crowd even it was almost all pro Brazil?
It's awesome. In Basketball having the energy whether it's for you or against you it makes it fun to play. It can make it difficult but if you are ready to play to really kind of feed off it and get yourself going. This is what it is all about to have people come out and watch the game and be passionate about it and I think it maybe helped being an a.m. game and having this kind of energy. If there's no one in the gym it might might have been a little hard to get going.

Opening comments:
When I think about this game my first game is why couldn't this team show up for our game against Russia. I was very, very pleased with the effort, very pleased with the way everybody came out and performed I think it would have been very easy for us to come out and just kind of go through the motion considering what happened against Russia and playing for the bronze medal. But Coach Donovan said it best, that this game was about pride and passion. Every single player from the starters to everybody that came in contributed, everybody put it all out on the line and we approached this game like this was our gold medal game. You know we didn't want to go home with bronze, but we're going home with a medal and that's the most important thing.

Defense helped set the tone early, that and the USA was shooting the ball well:
I think those are two of the biggest differences in this game and versus our game against Russia. We didn't play very good defense in that game and we didn't shoot the ball well. This game was totally different. I said to everybody that Brazil was going to approach this game like it was their gold medal game. For us it was all about pride. We wanted to come out and play well awe wanted to go home on a good note and also send a message. We know we still have a lot of work to do because we didn't win the gold medal now we have to go qualify. But the good thing is that we're leaving on a good note and we're leaving here with a message that we wanted to send to everyone of 'yeah we lost that game but we'll be ready when it really counts - the Olympics.'

On her shooting against Brazil:
Individually you could talk about it being a very good night, but as a team we learned a lot about ourselves. We came off of a tough loss to Russia, who played a great game, hats off to them they deserved it. This morning we knew it was going to be a very difficult game against a wonderful Brazilian team, with Janeth (Arcain) and Izi (Marques) we knew it was going to be tough. Our focus was the highest it’s been all tournament, which is a testament to the coaches for getting us prepared. For us, we’ll take it for what it’s worth and be ready the next time we come out to these tournaments.

Did you feel you had something to prove this morning after that loss to Russia?
Yeah, I think we had lot to prove, not to anyone but to ourselves. We knew the Russia game was a difficult game where we were out of sorts and out of rhythm from the get-go. I guess you could chalk it up to being one of those nights. But we weren’t going to leave it to chance again. Everyone in the locker room was ready to go, knowing how tough this game was going to be. We lost a little bit of our pride the other night so we had to get it back tonight. I think we did that. Obviously we’re disappointed that we’re not in the game today at two, but things happen for a reason.

Was this one of your best performances with the USA National Team?
It was just one of those mornings where you’re just feeling it. I think everyone was just so focused and I was the one who got the open looks and knocked them down. Probably, individually on the U.S. team this was probably one of my best performances. Then again whenever you win the game it makes the night a little bit more special. Tonight it was more about the team than anything else.

The U.S. hit shots early and it seemed like everyone then got it going:
You know what, I think we started the way we were suppose to start. The game against Russia, no excuses though, but it wasn't a true viewing of how we can play and how we are. Today we were very focused and came out and played our game. We were on top of them defensively and it was very close in the beginning, but they are a good team but they were not going to stop us from scoring completely. We have so much depth on this team, we continue to come at them hard and not let up. We can make so many positive things happen

Did it help to have a big crowd even if it was so much pro Brazil?
Oh for sure. I think if you're a competitor you love that. It doesn't matter who the fans are cheering for as long as its a full house. When you get a setting like that it's always awesome to be a part of. I think we fed off that a little bit. They're a great crowd, they cheered their team on even when they were down 20-30 points. They were still down and being supportive.

Is it better to finish up with this kind of game?
I would be telling a story if I said I'm satisfied. I'm okay with our effort and the fact that we left with momentum and on a good note, but we have a lot of work to do and we have a job that is unfinished that needs to be done. Next summer we're going to have to come out and get after it. But I think the effort more than anything else I'm proud of. I don't know if I could necessarily say I'm happy to get a bronze medal. I'm not at all especially in my first World Championship. But things happen and it was a good learning experience for us and we'll grow from it.



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