Practice Quotes >> Final Day of Prep Before World Championship Begins
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
Are you happy to finally get the games started tomorrow?
I am. I think the first one is always the most difficult. You’re not quite sure what you’re going to get. You want to obviously get off to a great start and set the tone for the way the tournament’s going to go. In this case, too, we’re anxious to see how Brittney’s going to fit in. We haven’t played a game with her yet. We’ve had two practices with her. I guess by USA Basketball standards, that’s a long time. But I think that all the players and I’ve noticed in the past two days in practice that there’s a sharper focus. Now that we’re here, it’s right there in front of us. So, we’re pretty excited about it.
What kind of adjustments do you think China will make?
It’s interesting, because they played two completely different halves against us. The first half was one way, and the second half was completely different. Then they played Australia, and I’m thinking that we had some really easy layups against them that I’m not sure we’ll be able to get tomorrow. But at the same time, whatever adjustments they made, they’re also going to have to deal with Brittney and they didn’t have to deal with her in the other game. Fortunately half the team is pretty experienced. We’ve had to make some adjustments based on our game, and they’re going to make some for us, I’m sure. But, we’ll be good to go.
On the young players who will be playing in their first senior-level event:
That’s going to be interesting to see. This is their first time. I’m sure they’ll be nervous. I’m sure they’ll be a bit tense. But Sue (Bird) and Dee (Taurasi) and Seimone (Augustus), Lindsay (Whalen), those guys have been around. They’ve done a lot. They know how to approach this. They know what to do, so they’ll be able to guide them through. I would expect that until they get the hang of it, it’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment for them as well.
Tina Charles (New York Liberty)
How was practice today?
Practice was good. We got after it. We were able to go over China stuff, and we’re all looking forward to the game and getting this started.
What kind of team is China?
They’re going to play hard. They’re going to shoot a lot of shots. They’re going to keep you moving and running. They’re going to execute their plays, get on the glass. They’re aggressive. They just work hard.
How is it having Brittney Griner out there to help with the post play?
It’s everything. She changes the dynamic of the game. She’s a very unique and special player, and we’re just happy that she’s on our side.
Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)
You’re back here in Turkey where you play professionally. Will you have a lot of fans cheering for you tomorrow?
Oh yeah. Even when I came into practice today all the girls were chanting, ‘Angel! Angel!’ just doing the little chant that they do. So, it was a great feeling to be recognized. The players who play for the Turkish teams here are all getting cheers. It’s been a really awesome experience so far. It feels like I’m playing at home tomorrow.
On the USA’s first opponent, China:
We’ve already played against them, so we kind of know what to expect. We’re going to watch film to adjust a couple of kinks that we need to flatten out. But, I think we’ll be okay against China.
Is it good to finally have a couple practices with the full 12-member team?
It’s a lot of fun. I’ve really been enjoying this group. I’m having a lot of fun with everybody, coach Dawn (Staley), coach Jen (Rizzotti), some newcomers, but they’ve all been awesome.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
On having two practices in Istanbul with the final 12-member team:
It’s really nice to have everybody here and on the court at the same time so we can continue to get our flow and our rhythm down together. I think we’ve found a pretty good rhythm these last two days of practice. So, I’m excited to get going tomorrow.
On the USA’s first opponent, China:
They’re very persistent about what they want to get done. They’ve got some big guards. They use the slicing into the lane very well. They use their fakes pretty well. When they can get within site of the lane through penetration, kicking and fouls, they’re pretty good. So, we have to prepare for all of that. We just need to make sure we’re attacking, and when we rebound the ball, just running as fast as we can.
You play in China, are any of your teammates on that team?
No. But I’ve faced all of them. I’m probably more familiar with them because I’ve gone against them the past two seasons, so I’m sure it’ll all come back to me when I get out there.
What do you think about the young group who are getting ready to play in their first FIBA World Championship?
It’s exciting to get the next generation of players in here to get this experience. It’ll make them that much more confidant, just like I was in my first World Championship four years ago. I was excited, watching and taking it all in. I was competing hard also, but there were a lot of things I still had to learn. I remember one of the games in particular I was struggling on the defensive end, guarding some of the guards. Coming from college as a power forward and then having to guard some of these really quick guards and some of the actions that the pros use more was pretty frustrating. But now I look back, and it’s more satisfying when I can cover those match-ups and see the progress.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
What kind of team is China?
They’re one of those teams that can be a huge wildcard in this tournament. They’re young. They have a lot of talent. They’re starting to play well after the tournament in France. We got a sneak peek in the second half (of the USA’s victory) of how good they can be. So, anything but the best will be … if we don’t do that, it’s going to be a tough game.
Brittney Griner has joined the team since that game in France, how much will that change things?
We’ve tried to keep it the same, just tried to made sure she was familiar with what we’re doing. Nothing’s too complicated or fancy, so it’s just a matter of her picking it up and doing it when we need her to do it. But, I think she’ll be fine. Coach has done a really good job of going over stuff to get her up to speed.
On the young players on the team:
With B.G. (Brittney Griner), Odyssey (Sims), Nneka (Ogwumike), Maya (Moore) to a certain extent, she’s still pretty young, Stewie (Breanna Stewart), that’s the future of the red, white and blue. I’m looking forward to seeing them play in this tournament and for many more to come.