Additional Quotes >> USA 93, Russia 58
Aug. 4, 2008 ï¿½ Haining, China
USA head coach Anne Donovan
On the game:
We're pleased with this game. We really wanted to accomplish things. It's our sixth day together, so our goal right now is to get better everyday, and I'm sure that's Russia's philosophy. We still have time before August 9th when we open up at the Olympics. So, we feel good about this game, but we take it for what it is. This is a warm-up tournament. This is an opportunity to try different teams, different lineups and get better. We take this with a grain of salt. It was a good win, but this is not the Olympic games.
On the USA's defense:
We spent a lot of time talking about (defense), and then we decided to spend a lot of time looking at video this morning and then had a great practice today. Our practices right now, they are not shoot arounds. They are practices, and you can tell these girls are committed to getting better. The intensity and their willingness and their focus on that end, we're seeing it everyday. As long as we continue that pace, we are going to be on target for August 9th through the 23rd. So, we're really pleased with the improvement from yesterday to today, and tomorrow is a new day.
On the USA's zone offense:
Russia played a little bit of zone, but it wasn't an aggressive enough zone for me to make a judgment call on that. We continue to work our zone defense, which we haven't played at all here, and we continue to work our zone offense. I thought we were in a total rhythm tonight offensively, and like Diana said, it was predicated off our defense. We were aggressive defensively, we got after it, and therefore our transition to our offense really was aggressive as well. So, I was pleased. This really was a great game for us.
On playing Australia tomorrow:
I thought Latvia was a great test for us right out of the gates and showed just how good they were in the scheme of things here. Russia we know is a good team, didn't have a great game today, but we know they are going to be good. So I feel like the steps have been very good, and I think Australia has been playing great basketball. When you look at Australia right now, you can tell they have been together for a while. And the nice thing about Australia, when Lauren (Jackson) comes off the floor, when Penny (Taylor) comes off the floor, the rest of that team is used to playing without them. So although Lauren and Penny obviously are great players, they don't lose that much without them. So we expect it to be a great game, and I'm looking forward to that match up
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
Although this game means nothing, does it still feel good to be able to put the hammer down early?
Yeah. This game was against a team that beat us in our last major competition so there was some extra motivation in there. But more than anything the best thing about this game is that we got better as a team. This game doesn't mean anything, it's a warm up. It's an opportunity for us to play together and get better. For us to accomplish that means more than the score.
Is it easier for you, and Tina and Diana to play the Russian team having played with and against many of their team members in Russia?
I don't think easy is the word I would use. It's very helpful that we know them so well. These are players that I've played against for the last four years. I know them just as well as I know some of the WNBA players from playing against them. From a scouting report standpoint, we can kind of be sources. In the locker room before the game, there were a lot of questions about what their players do, and we're able to answer them. So I think if anything, it's really helpful.
What was the biggest improvement from last night and what does the team still need to work on?
That's easy. I think our defense was definitely the improvement. We held them to 58 points, our goal was 60, and it's going to be 60 for the entire tournament. That was a huge difference from our game against Latvia. Our help was there, we applied pressure, everything the coaching staff has asked of us we did tonight. In terms of getting better, we just have to be consistent with it and that's hard. You can't just do it one game, you have to continue to do it.
On playing Australia:
A lot of those players play in the WNBA, so there is definitely a familiarity. For some of us it's our teammates. We actually got to watch some of their games on TV in our hotel. They like to run, they are very, very good team. They play so well together. I think it's going to be a tough game.
Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs)
On the USA's defensive game against Russia versus Latvia:
We just felt that defensively we can impose our will and our depth, which is really important for this team. We went over, in shoot around, what we needed to improve on on that end, we watched some film of ourselves. It looked worse than it was. The energy level was better tonight. With our length and our athleticism we feel that we can take teams out of their offense. It's pretty good to hold Russia to 19 points in the first half. They're a great offensive team. We're pretty happy with our defense tonight.
Even though this game doesn't really mean anything, does it feel good to put Russia away early?
For us, and our coaches talked about this, this tournament is about us improving and getting better and we do look at the opponents. But we haven't even really been doing any scouting. We're just trying to improve and get better. The Olympics is a long tournament. You want to be peaking at the right time and having a day-to-day process of improving. We feel that from yesterday to today there's been some great improvement and that's what we hope to continue.
What do you expect to see from Australia tomorrow?
They'll probably be the toughest opponent we've faced so far. Great players, great system, great team. They're going to put a lot of pressure on us in transition, so that's one of the things we're going to have to do is get back in transition and match up. They have players that can make plays, so one-on-one defense is going to have to be good, but more importantly team defense is going to have to be really good. I expect it to be up and down, a lot of fun to watch. They're the defending world champions, so we have our work cut out for us, but we're excited for the challenge.
Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks)
On the USA's defensive intensity:
Today was all about defense. It wasn't about offense, and what was great was that our defense ignited our offense. We got a lot of fastbreaks and we didn't have to really rely once again on running plays. That's been effective for us.
Does the improvement make you feel good?
Definitely, because we are going to have to hang our hats on our defense. I thought our full court pressure really bothered them. Also, once we did get into the half court, we had great help defense tonight.
On playing Australia tomorrow:
We came into the tournament to win it, and I think to play Australia will be a great match up. They play such a fast style of basketball, but they play as aggressive as we do. We're looking forward to it.
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
On tonight's game:
As a team obviously last night against Latvia we came out and we weren't playing as intensive defense as we could. Tonight we came out and played much better, full-court, up in your face defense for 40 minutes and I think that's why we were able to win.
How do you feel about your play tonight?
I think I played all right. Obviously last night I wasn't able to play in the second half because of my shoulder. Then today I had a slow start after getting into foul trouble. But overall I think I did pretty well.
In a week you'll be in the Olympics, what is your goal?
To win the gold medal. That's something that as a kid you look up to and you dream of. Obviously playing USA Basketball, that's what you want to do.
Are you going to dunk in the Olympics?
That's something I haven't really thought about. The gold medal is first and foremost and all the rest is just icing on the cake.
On tonight's game:
It's a good start, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything. We're still working on things, trying to get ourselves together. It's going to be a whole new ball game when we get to Beijing.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On the game:
We just wanted to get some things done that we didn't do yesterday. Coach Donovan talked about it before the game, and we were just trying to accomplish those goals. We did a pretty good job of putting 40 minutes together of just hard basketball, and that's what we are trying to accomplish every time we step on the court.
On playing Russia for the first time since 2006:
I think it's two completely different teams. In 2006, we had that group of 12 players that got together, and we didn't accomplish our goals. This year is a little bit different. Having Lisa back adds that veteran mindset that she brings with all that experience. So, 2006 is over, and we are trying to set a different standard this year. We're just trying to go into every game with a mindset of playing hard, and I think Russia is probably in the same boat, with a different team from 2006.
On being more aggressive tonight:
I think at this point every game is very important for us to build on. Yesterday we didn't do some things very well, personally and as a team. So, today was more about us trying to fix some things. I think everyone just came out with a more aggressive mindset. When we play defense like we did, it sets the tone for the other side of the ball. That's what we try to do.
Tina Thompson (Houston Comets)
It must feel good to beat Russia like that?
One word, defense, defense, defense. Our defense was awesome. We came out very aggressive in the beginning. Russia is a good team, so we know that we couldn't let them get comfortable at all. If we had, like in our first game against Latvia, then they could put up a lot of numbers. Our focus was definitely defense.
What was the difference in the USA's defense from yesterday to today?
We were a lot more aggressive. We were focused on the task, and we executed our plan. More than anything we allowed Latvia to be very comfortable. Everyone is fast here, so you can't allow them to be comfortable in anything you do. If you do, then it will a long night. From start to finish we pressured Russia really tough and never allowed them to get in a comfort zone.
Are you pleased with the improvement the team has made?
The improvement has been awesome. We've had a short period of time, and we definitely have to not use that as an excuse. We're need to take advantage of each day, and I think that we've done that. Our play shows that we've made improvements.
Can you talk about the play of some of the rookies?
I think they've all played great, but I didn't expect anything less. They have more than 3/4 of a WNBA season under their belt, and they've been awesome college players, playing at a very high level. The things that they are doing out here have been great, but we didn't expect them to anything different than what they are doing. That's why they are here.