2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11
2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11

Additional Quotes >> USA 108, Japan 67

Klaipeda, Lithuania • July 26, 2013

Katie Meier

USA head coach Katie Meier (University of Miami)
Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
Our tempo, when we slow down, people are able to be a little more physical with our posts. But if we keep the ball moving, our posts have some space in there and they’re awfully talented. Obviously they had a great performance inside tonight.

Were you pleased with the way your team played against a good team like Japan?
Yeah. We were very concerned with them because they had lost three games, but they lost against three teams that were still alive (today). They played a really tough bracket in the pool play, so we couldn’t really tell how we would match up. We had to answer a few of our own questions for ourselves. I think that was the first part of the game plan, that we just needed to play harder. We had been on our heels against France. France really did a nice job of knocking us back and we needed to roar back. I thought we did roar back tonight.

What did you think about A’ja Wilson’s double-double in just 16 minutes?
She kept it very simple and really, really hit the offensive glass, kept the ball high and knew she was a lot taller than them. I thought she had her vision tonight and that really helped her. It was a great performance.

On the USA’s strong start:
Bashaara Graves started the game with a really tough mentality. At the beginning of the game, Mo Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Bashaara Graves were just taking care of business. They were very focused, they really wanted to respond. And then Stewie (Breanna Stewart) was all over the glass and that got us some options, some run-out opportunities. She’s so versatile with the ball. I felt good about players responding to what we challenged them to do.

How good was it to be able to rest some players?
You have a question between fresh legs and breaking rhythm. The veterans, they understood it. I consulted them and they were like, ‘no, we’re fine.’ They were playing well, you wanted to keep that going and get their confidence back up, but at the same time our second wave was doing a fantastic job out there. So, it wasn’t like we were losing the lead or anything. I thought our second wave did a great job tonight. We got great contributions from the bench and we really needed to have that.

What do you think about your semifinal opponent, Australia, a team you played in the Canary Islands?
I remember how physical that game was. All of our first time international players felt that way, too. That Australia was so physical and they’re so strong to the ball. If you have it, they’re going to try to take it from you. That’s on rebounds, that’s on passing, that’s on reversing the ball on your offenses. It’s a real test for us. We’re going to have to be very mature. We were talented tonight and responded with great effort, but we’re going to have to have a great maturity about us tomorrow and keep our composure.

Nia Coffey

Nia Coffey (Hopkins H.S./*Northwestern/Minneapolis, Minn.)
Do you think this was one of your best games so far?
Definitely. My teammates really helped me throughout this game. I think we all around had a good game.

Were you starting to feel loose?
With every day and every shoot around and every practice I gain confidence. That’s with the help of the coaches and the team, so that really helps.

Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
We definitely wanted to get touches in the paint and also really ‘D’ up and play the best defense that we have all tournament.

What are you expecting to see tomorrow from Australia?
They’re very aggressive and strong. We definitely have to match or beat their level of intensity and play hard and play together.

On the performance of A’ja Wilson:
Oh my gosh, she did an absolutely amazing job. With all the boards, the rebounds, her defense, she did it all tonight.

Bashaara Graves

Bashaara Graves (Tennessee/Clarksville, Tenn.)
Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
Definitely. We wanted to use our size. We knew we were bigger than them. We got a lot of offensive rebounds on them, so that was mainly what we did.

They were wide open for some long-range 3s. Is that something you’re hoping to shut down?
Definitely. They hit a lot more 3s than we thought they were going to get. We knew there were going to be some long rebounds and things, but we definitely didn’t think they were going to hit shots like that.

Was it good to be able to spread the minutes around and rest the starters?
Yes, definitely, because at the beginning we were having some trouble, it was kind of a close game. So, it was definitely good in the second quarter to pull away so we could rest.

What do you expect to see from Australia?
The same thing (as the exhibition game). They’re going to be a lot more physical than Japan is. But, I think we’re ready for it.

Linnae Harper

Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S./*Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.)
On tonight’s game:
This game was very important, so they came out pretty tough. I think they scouted us pretty well to be able to stop certain players on the team, but we reacted well. All 12 players came out and played aggressive from the beginning of the game to the end.

Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
Yes, that was our main goal and I think Brianna Turner and A’ja Wilson did a wonderful job down there, being strong, getting a lot of and-ones. Eventually when they packed in their defense, it opened things up for our guards and that made the game easier.

How important was it to spread the minutes around?
It was very important. Coming off a game that was really close, it helped a lot. We accomplished many things and also learned from our mistakes. I think that’s going to help us for our next game.

Your next opponent is Australia, what do you think that game will be like?
It’s going to be a tough game. We played them in an exhibition game. They’re really tough. It’s going to be a really good game. We can’t take anything for granted. We’re going to have to play every possession like it’s our last and just play hard.

Morgan Tuck

Morgan Tuck (Connecticut/Bolingbrook, Ill.)
How were you able to overpower a good team like Japan so quickly?
It started in the first half with Bashaara and A’ja. They really established our inside presence. They were smaller, so we knew that’s what we had to do. Our guards did a good job for us, especially Moriah (Jefferson) really pushing the tempo.  We just continued doing that in the second half.

Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
Definitely. They were double- and triple-teaming, so we did a good job of kicking it out and then getting it back into the post for a layup. That was our big focus, getting it inside.

What do you expect to see from Australia tomorrow?
I expect it to be very physical. When we played them in the Canary Islands, it was very physical. We were down the whole game, so I think we’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder that we don’t want to be the team that’s losing the whole time and then barely get a win.

A'ja Wilson

A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S/Hopkins, S.C.)
Was your size advantage helping you against Japan?
Oh yes, a lot. Coach told us that they were going to be small, but I didn’t know they were going to be that small. She was like, ‘I want you to be 6-4, so don’t put the ball on the floor. Just look for your teammates and look for your shot.’ Once I really got used to not putting the ball on the floor, everything started to fall into place.

How were you feeling?
I felt good. I’m just trying to get used to the play out here, so I’m starting to really get it when I get in. I’m just playing my role and feeling good.

What do you expect to see against Australia?
I expect to see their top game, their best game. That goes for any team out here when they play the U.S. They’re going their top and we’re going to play our top, so it should be a good game.

 

*Has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend and compete for school indicated.
#Has verbally committed to attend and compete for school indicated.