Additional Quotes: USA U19 Women 88, China 62
Chekhov, Russia • July 19, 2015
USA U19 head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
On tonight’s game:
China did a really good job of spreading the floor and making us cover so much ground. They’re a team that moves the ball extremely well. They’re always in constant motion. That’s a little bit difficult for our style of play and what we’re used to. But over a 40-minute period we made some adjustments and I thought our players really buckled down and made an effort to not give up any open looks.
China is a team that likes to shoot 3s and they got going shooting those 3s. But, over a 40-minute period we did a great job of countering any run that they had.
Are you worried about defending the 3-point line?
No, it doesn’t really concern me all that much. What we need to keep concentrating on is using our strength, our ability to go inside and score in the paint, because we have enough bigs with a lot of versatility that will help us throughout this tournament.
We have Azurá (Stevens), who was able to stretch the floor out and knock down some 3s. I thought we shot the ball extremely really well from outside the 3, something that we haven’t been able to do. Hopefully that will allow us to give teams that play like China a little taste of its own medicine by shooting accurately like we did tonight.
On the USA’s strength inside:
One of the biggest strengths of our team is our length. We have six post players on this team. Unfortunately Kristine (Anigwe) was a little under the weather today, otherwise we would have shown them all six of our post players. And they’re all different.
A’ja (Wilson) is able to score down there in the paint at will, Azurá (Stevens) stretches the floor out, Lauren (Cox) is a really good passer who is able to see the floor and make great post-to-post passes. Then you have Chatrice (White), who’s able to knock down the 3 or go inside. So, we have a lot of versatility in our post. And of course you can’t leave Shakayla (Thomas) out, who can play inside, she can play outside. She’s got the speed of a guard, yet she plays in the post.
So, we have to continue to use our versatility in the post and show all of our strengths, because they’re all different. Teams who are scouting us have to go deep into their scouting report, because we play a lot of people and our depth is going to be key as we continue to move ahead in this tournament.
On closing preliminary play against Egypt:
Egypt gave China a really hard-fought battle, but just came up short. They played a lot of zone, so we should anticipate them playing us a little bit of a zone, packing it in, and maybe forcing us to shoot from the outside. We have a practice tomorrow and we’ll have to try to get in a lot of zone offense. I think they’ll try to make us shoot from the outside and try to limit the opportunities that our posts get in the paint. I’m looking forward to the day off, getting another practice under our belt and I’m looking forward to advancing to the next round.
Crystal Dangerfield (Blackman H.S./Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
On tonight’s game:
We had a really good first half. Our second half was kind of slow. But, I think we’ll be ready to come back out to practice tomorrow and work on that.
China shot better from 3-point than 2-point. Does that worry you?
It was just a lack of focus at the time. Eventually we were able to get out and contest a few of them, but they were just shooting really well tonight.
After starting to pull away in the game against Spain and then again tonight, you’ve allowed your opponent to pull back. Is that something you want to work on as a team?
It is, because they told us earlier today that points do matter in this tournament (in case of teams tied in the standings), along with the wins. So, we have to be able to bring energy in when we sub and not let our defense fall off.
What good things did you see from your team tonight?
When we were playing hard, our ball pressure was really good. We still have to close out more, but our ball pressure has been good. Our 12-trap defense has been good and then our offensive rebounding and getting into the post has been good also.
Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.)
On tonight’s game:
China is a really good shooting team. They did a really good job on defense, too. Even though we got a really big lead, they were good at denying and getting rebounds.
On the USA’s play:
We did a really good job of finishing. I think we made more 3s tonight than we did in our last game. So, I think we did a really good job finishing from the outside.
On the team’s depth:
It’s really good that we have such good depth. If someone gets tired we can go all out because we know that we’ll have another group coming in.
Is the depth even more important, given the fact that you have seven games in nine days?
I think that’s very important, because everybody is going to get tired. To know that there’s no let-up throughout the whole team is a good thing to know.
On the USA’s post play:
They all bring a really big presence. I think that other teams focus on our inside and even though they focus on it, we still get enough points inside.
Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.)
On tonight’s game:
On offense, they were making a lot of 3s and on defense they were being really physical in the post. That was harder to play against than some of the other teams who have played us.
How difficult was it to defend the 3 and is that something that worries you?
Not really. It just threw us off guard, but we did a really good job after they made a few. We made some adjustments. A little more practice and we’ll be fine.
On the strength of the USA’s inside game:
I think it’s really hard for teams to play against because for one, we’re so much bigger and we’re stronger. So, that’s really hard to work around, especially when there are two taller players, we’re able to work the high-low really well, which is really difficult for other teams to defend.
Have you seen a steady improvement with this team over the past few weeks?
Yes. We’re getting a better feel for each other, playing more, getting more comfortable. Knowing where to pass to certain people and things like that has helped a lot.
A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.)
On tonight’s game:
China is a great team that really spaces you out. They really opened up the court, so it really makes it hard for you to guard one area, and they can knock down shots. So, that was the biggest thing. We knew that we had to defend the 3, but they still got shots up. That’s something that we had a lot of trouble with, defending the 3. We would play great defense, but then at the end we would leave that one person open and she would knock down a shot. So, defending the 3 was something that really gave us a struggle tonight.
What were some of the positives you can take away from this game?
One of the good things was everyone contributing. Everyone is getting the ball to the person who is in the best position to score. We’re starting to make the easy passes. Our defense is really starting to come together. Everyone is contributing different things, they’re showing what they bring to the table and I thought that was great for us tonight.
Have you seen the team improve from the first day of practice to tonight?
Oh, most definitely. I think about it every day. I think about that first day of training camp. We really didn’t know each other and now we’re here playing together and you would think we’ve been playing together for a lot longer.
Some of these teams have been playing together for years. I see a lot of the same Canadian group that I’ve seen my three years. I feel as if we’re the only team that switches. I think it’s great when you can bring 12 players together and act like we’ve been playing together for years. It’s looking like a well-oiled machine. That’s something I really see improvement with since the first day and I’m really proud to be a part of it.