Additional Quotes >> USA 92, South Korea 56
April 21, 2008 ï¿½ Beijing China
Anne Donovan, head coach
We came in extremely focused and motivated after having lost our first game. We played better in our second game, but we're hoping to improve with every game and make up for that game that we lost. With Korea averaging close to 80 points a game we knew we had to come in extremely focused defensively. We set goals to try to minimize how much they scored and we were successful. I'm really pleased with our defensive effort.
What will you work on for your next game?
We have added players as we've gone along. We added Taj McWilliams-Franklin right before our first game and today we added another guard to our roster (Kara Lawson) and that's really helped us with rotations and substitutions. That was a big difference tonight, having Kara Lawson come off the bench and give us some good minutes in the perimeter really helped all of our rotations all the way around. We didn't have to play Lisa Leslie and Taj out of position at the three.
Will this squad be the same you will bring back here for the Olympics in August and what are your expectations for your team at the Olympics?
This team that we have here is a very young team. There will be some players from this team that come in August, but the team we bring in August will be considerably different in August. The expectations for us is to win a gold medal. That's always our expectations and we are working toward that gold medal. I know there are a lot of players and coaches who will be unsatisfied if we don't come away with the gold.
The club commitments by some of your players and the lack of training time you have together as compared to previous Olympics, will that pose some issues for you in August?
I'm a coach and I like to practice and I like to practice with the team so that we can develop our chemistry on the floor and our chemistry off the floor. But unfortunately we haven't had that kind of training because of overseas commitments. So when we get together July 28 we're going to have to take a speed course in all of those areas. I feel confident that our talent will overcome the lack of training. But there's no doubt that it's a tough road for us because of the lack of training time.
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky
The USA's starting five averaged almost two inches per person taller than Koreas. Did that help on the inside?
Yes. We watched film this morning and coach Anne (Donovan) told us to utilize our height and make sure the bigs run the floor and our point guards get the ball into us. We took advantage of that tonight.
They move the ball very well, did that disrupt your game at all?
It takes time to get used to it, but you just have to talk while you're out there on the floor as a team. You have to make sure you know who you're guarding, know who all the shooters are and who are their drivers and you'll be okay.
Do you think playing here against these international teams and alongside veterans like Lisa Leslie, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Katie Smith will help your transition to the WNBA?
It always helps to play with people like them. It's going to be a plus for me going into the pros, but it always helps. I just have to soak in as much as possible from them, every little detail. I try to watch Lisa and watch my opponents carefully, take it and put it into my game.
Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Sparks
On today's game:
I thought the Korean team was really strong. Obviously they shoot the ball really well from the 3-point like. Our strategy was to pound the ball inside, which we did a nice job of. Our goal was to hold them to 60 points or less and we were able to do that. It was a great team effort defensively and I was really proud of everyone out there today.
Were you happy to have another guard in Kara Lawson so you could play a more natural position?
Playing the three the last two games I got the chance to stay inside a little bit more. The next adjustment I need to focus on is fouls and really adjusting to the officials a little bit sooner.
The team seems to be gelling quickly. You only had four practices before getting on the court for your first game, what do you still need to work on?
I just wish we could get that game back that we lost to Australia because we have been playing much better each game. I think we got a little bit better of an understanding as to what each player does and likes to do. We have to continue pushing forward. Obviously China's going to be tough and we have New Zealand next. We have to take one game at a time, keep crashing the boards and continue to play team basketball.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Los Angeles Sparks
On today's game:
They normally do a lot of cutting and running and shooting, which is what they tried to do today. They don't really have big posts. They have a 6-7 girl, but she hurt her knee. I played with her my last year in Korea and they call her Sky because she's really big. She's got really good hands, but she has bad knees so they said she'll be playing in the Olympics.
They're so small inside that they have to pull you outside and I think our posts did a great job of getting in the stance and defending them because they're really good on that cut, dive, pass and move motion that most Asian teams are famous for. Korea was just a touch of what China will do and China has more bigs, so it prepared us a little for our upcoming game against China.
The USA's points in the paint tied Korea's point total. Can you comment on that?
Clearly we had a height advantage. We have some big young kids and they're huge. Korea basically has two and a half posts without Sky in there and you want to take advantage of those mismatches. Today the mismatch was clearly inside. The good thing about it is that on this USA team everybody wants to share the ball. Nobody minds passing and when you're open inside and can dominate like we did tonight, it was great.
For the most part we stuck to the game plan. Coach Donovan wanted us to pound it inside and we did, even off some dribble-drives and some fast break layups.
What do you think of some of the younger players on this team?
I love them. I think they're really getting a lot of experience out of this tournament. Most important is that when they're playing, they play so hard every time they're on the floor. That gives us a good boost. There are no egos. They come out, whether they play three minutes or they play 15 minutes, they come out and play hard and give something every time they step on the court. Watching Crystal Langhorne, she's such a workhorse. Every time she steps in the game she gives you something good for the amount of time she's in there. She plays eight minutes, she's going to give you eight points, four rebounds, she's always doing something positive. She gets some good blocks, runs the floor well and has really impressed me with the crop of young bigs that we have.
Katie Smith, Detroit Shock
Our defense was very good. We also moved the basketball around and found the open person, which led to open shots. And then we shot the ball very well. So our offense was good and we worked hard on defense.
Can you talk about the turnovers committed by the USA in the last three games?
We've turned the ball over all three games a lot. Some of it is their pressure, but a lot of it is us not making good passes or being strong with the basketball. A lot of it falls back on us just having to take better care of the basketball. That's something we definitely need to work on because it gives the other team easy buckets.
What do you think about the arena and the organization of the tournament?
I like the arena a lot, both the inside and the outside. The volunteers are excellent and very helpful. There are a lot of very good English speakers here so that helps. It's great, so far so good. I really like the arena. It's nice to be here in Beijing.
Is this the first time you've been to China and what do you think about the Chinese culture?
I have been to China before, I was here in 2002 for the World Championship. It is a very different culture than in the U.S. or Europe. I haven't had a lot of time to see Beijing. We're at the hotel and have been shuttled back and forth to the arena, but I would love to know more about the culture. It's just fun to be around, see the buildings and see how things are done. Hopefully I'll get to see more of it throughout the week and maybe in August.
What does someone like Lisa Leslie bring to the team?
She brings a lot of confidence because of her experience. She's played on every level, she's won on every level. She's also a professional. She works very hard on and off the floor when it comes to getting in shape and competing. For me, it's knowing that she will be ready every night to play. Will she always make every shot? No. But she will do the things she needs to do to help us win. Whether it's rebounding or defending, whatever. Her experience and her game gives me and I imagine everyone else on the floor a lot of confidence.
Candice Wiggins, Minnesota Lynx
On today's game:
I think our defense was really good today. I think they were leading the tournament in scoring and today we held them under 60, which is what triggered our runs. We still need to work on getting through screens and little things like that. But this was a great game, we continue to progress and every game we're getting better.
Next up is New Zealand and your former college teammate, Jillian Harmon. What will that be like and has there been any friendly trash talking going on between you two?
No, there hasn't been any talking, but it's going to weird. I've never played against Jill. I feel like I know her game so well, we played three years at Stanford together. It's going to be fun. I think they're really excited, they've been playing really well so it should be fun.
What are you getting out of this tournament that might help prepare you for the WNBA?
Probably just having the defensive mindset, you have to be on your game every time you step on the court. Being pushed by older players and being able to learn from some of the greatest players in the game definitely helps. Katie's (Smith) a great pro guard and I'm trying to learn from her, watch what she's doing. Most importantly, absorbing as much as I can.