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Geno Auriemma

Additional Quotes >> USA 99, China 75

  • Date:
    Sep 20, 2014

Paris, France

USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)

On the game:

I thought we played better than we did yesterday. Our offense, we got into some transition stuff. We made shots, which we didn’t do yesterday at the beginning of the game. We had a really good flow. We got contributions from a lot of people. I thought that first half was about as well as we’ve played.

And then the second half, we are trying to get as many people in as we can, which I think disrupted a little bit of the flow. And China made every shot in the second half – God bless them. All the shots they missed in the first half, they made every one in the second. So, it was good for us to be in that situation where it forced us to score every time down the court, because we couldn’t stop them.

I think it was a good experience for us to go through some things we probably are going to face when we get to Turkey. Every time we are in a situation that we haven’t seen before and one that forces us to react, I think it’s good preparation.

China had more points in the third quarter than they had in the entire first half. Does that worry you defensively?
Yeah. We’ve got some work to do. Defensively, we have to spend a lot more time, and we haven’t had a chance to do that. We were really good at what we practiced, and we practiced scoring points, so we were really good at that. The other part, we have to spend more time on it, for sure.

On France tomorrow:

They are younger than they were at the Olympics. They are trying to make that transition, but they still have a couple of experienced players. And they are home. They are going to have a great crowd helping them. They are very well organized. They run their stuff, and they try to get you to play defense for the whole shot clock. Hopefully, we can speed them up a little bit, like we did in London two years ago.

At this point in our preparations, we’re not so much concerned with what they do as opposed to what are we going to do that is going to help us down the road.

Tina Charles (New York Liberty)

On the game:
We just focused on executing plays and running in transition. I think the second group that came off the bench did a great job just brining energy and attacking them. Jantel (Lavender) did a great job down low, and Nneka (Ogwumike) finishing around the basket. So, everybody is just coming into their own and learning to play with each other, coming together.

How difficult is it to have chemistry knowing there are still decisions that have to be made?

You just have to play your game. You can’t focus on that. You have to play your game and control what you can, which is our style of play, what coach wants from us, what he asks from us. So, you have to do that, and just let the committee decide.

On France, which the USA met in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game:
I know they have good players. Sadrine Gruda and Celine Dumerc. I know they are just going to come out and try to play their game.

Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock)

On the game:

I thought we got out to a good start in the first half. The shots that we were missing yesterday, we were knocking them down today. I thought the post players did a good job, especially off the bench. They came with a lot of energy, Nneka (Ogwumike) and Jantel (Lavender) specifically. I thought they did a great job, had a great game, and our bigs as a total. That was a point of emphasis this morning, and I thought they stepped up and took advantage of our advantage, and that’s height.

Were there areas you saw where the team needs to improve?

Absolutely. I thought we needed improvement in the third quarter. When we are playing against teams, they are the best in their country. There are no bad teams out here, as coach Auriemma was saying. So, we just have to keep the intensity throughout the forty minutes and when we sub. We know we are working with a lot of players, but we just have to maintain our intensity.

Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury)

On the game:

I think we started off pretty well, got up to an early lead. In the third quarter, though, they tried to make a comeback, actually the whole second half. So, we have to do a better job defensively. We can’t let them score as many threes as they did. But overall, it was a pretty good game.

Is the USA continuing to improve?

Absolutely. We will go and break down the video, and we’ll take a look. Along with the bad stuff, there was also really good stuff, on both ends of the floor. So, we just have to keep building from game to game.

Do you think the third quarter was a USA lapse, or was it that China got hot?

I think a little bit of both. I think we kind of slacked off defensively. We weren’t as aggressive as we were in the first half. And then China started hitting shots. You can’t count a team out at halftime. You have to keep playing for forty minutes.

Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks)

On today's game:

It was good. I thought we got off to a good start. Everybody was kind of flowing. The offense ran really well, and we were finding the post open underneath the basket a lot. It was about finishing shots. 

Are you feeling more comfortable as the training camp has progressed?

Most definitely. It's getting a lot easier. As you do everything over and over every day, it just becomes repetitious and second nature. So now I just think it's about everybody finishing and us playing defense. 

On the third quarter:

We knew they were a team that plays well in the second half and we knew that coming into the second half. It was just about rotating to those 3-point shots. They were in a rhythm. They were making extra passes. It was just about us having some breakdowns on defense, but I think in the coming games we'll fix that. It's good that we have these games to be able to know what we have to fix. 

Having played in Europe, you know some of the French players. What can you tell us about them?

They're very good. I know a lot of the players on that team. They're very physical. They have great post players. Tomorrow will be really tough; it might be the best team that we play because (Liz) Cambage didn't play much for Australia. So, this will be the true test in how much we're ready for the World Championship. It'll show us where we're at and what we need to fix before we get to Istanbul. 

Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars)

On the game:
I think we did really well in the first half. I think we got outscored in the second half, definitely in the third quarter. So, even though we did get a big lead in the first half, all these teams are great. They are playing for their country. They want to win. They can make shots, and they can make plays. So, even if we do get a lead, we have to make sure that we continue to play great basketball throughout the whole game.

What was the difference in the third quarter?
I think we just let down defensively a little bit. We were so focused on making shots in the second half that we stopped getting stops on the defensive end, and they got comfortable. They got in a rhythm on offense.

Is the USA continuing to improve?

I think we improved with our post offense. I think Jantel (Lavender), she had a great game, and Nneka (Ogwumike), too. Breanna Stewart, she started hitting shots in the paint, which opened up the perimeter. I think our presence in the post was really good today.

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)

Did you think the U.S. post players took advantage of your size today?
Coach told us that we needed to redeem ourselves from yesterday. Yesterday we weren’t really taking great shots. Our shot selection was a little bit poor. Today he made an emphasis on us getting inside and finishing at the basket, not fading away. I think we did a great job of doing that today.

What are your thoughts on the third quarter?
I think that we kind of relaxed a little bit. We allowed them to score in whatever way they could, and it took us a while to score. We didn’t score until two minutes in. We can’t be doing that against all these teams. We have to start strong and maintain that strength throughout the game, especially coming into the third quarter.

You’ve played in China. Did you know any of their players today?

Two of my teammates were on their team. So, I was familiar with a lot of their games because I played against them. And Maya (Moore) plays there, too, so she had had teammates on the team as well.

Did you talk to them?

Yeah, definitely, I did – limitedly.

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