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Kristine Anigwe

Additional Quotes: USA U19 Women 89, Argentina 39

  • Date:
    Jul 22, 2015

Vidnoje, Russia

USA U19 head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)

Were you pleased with the way the USA team set the tone early against Argentina?
I was really pleased. Any time we’ve asked this team to make some type of adjustment or correct some things, they’ve done a tremendous job at doing just that.
Our starters got us off to a great start on both sides of the ball and then there was a trickle-down effect when people came into the game, with the next group keeping up that energy.
What were you working on during the game?
As we continue to move through the tournament, the competition is going to get a lot stiffer, and we have one more day to prep. Once we got out to a big lead, we wanted to work on some things that we need to fine tune, like our three-quarter court press, our two-three zone, just in case we need to fall back on a different adjustment throughout the tournament. I thought we did a really good job at being aggressive and seeing different people in different positions in our press.
On the USA’s guard play:
Tonight was a prime example of us continuing to get better on both sides of the ball. Our ability to share the basketball, make the extra pass, something that we expressed to our team a game or two ago, we finally saw them move the ball and get players easier shots out there on the floor. Anytime we are open and taking practice shots, we are pretty accurate with it. We have a little difficulty when we try to make things happen and force things to happen. But, tonight was a night in which we shared the ball, and that’s why we had five or six players in double figures. That’s indicative of our ball movement. We had 24 assists, and I think that was the largest amount of assists that we’ve had all tournament long. It’s a good place for us to be, going into the most crucial part of the tournament.
On playing Canada in the quarterfinals:
First and foremost, we have to get our players to realize that we’re not going to skate through this tournament. We’re going to be challenged somewhere down the line. So, we can’t led our guard down. We have to make sure that we’re focused. We’ve done a tremendous job of putting things in place for our team to be successful. Whether that’s (imposing a) curfew, whether that’s taking their phones (at night), making sure they get their rest and they’re hydrated. That’s first and foremost. Then you have to turn the page and look at how Canada has gotten better and better since the first time we played them in Spain. They’re going to play 40 minutes of hard-nosed, tough basketball. For us, we have to continue to do what we’ve done throughout the tournament and that’s use our bigs, keep sharing the basketball and our three-quarter court press has been tremendous for us. Hopefully we can continue to fine tune that, disrupt on both sides of the ball, and do what we do best, which is sharing the basketball and get the ball to our bigs. 
Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.)
On tonight’s game:
We were playing inside, and I felt that the starters came out and pushed the pace of the game. We just started building onto that.
Do you see your team improving every game?
Yes. I feel that as we go on, our chemistry really builds, and we start to get comfortable around each other and know how to pass the ball to each other, and know where everyone wants to get the ball.
What are this team’s strengths?
Our inside game. When we kick it out and our shooters are making all their shots and being consistent, I feel like that’s when we really start to get in the groove. Then when our defense flows into our offense, that’s when we really start picking up speed.
On playing Canada in the quarterfinals:
They go hard. They’re not going to take us easy. They’re going to go hard in the paint. They’re going to double, maybe triple A’ja (Wilson) and Z (Azurá Stevens). They’re going to work hard to try to make us play on their pace.
How fun is it playing with this group of players?
It’s really fun. I really enjoy playing with them, learning with them. They’re making me a better player and I’m so grateful for being on this team.
Chatrice White (Illinois/Shelby, Neb.)
Was there something the team was working on today once you pulled away?
In the games where we are winning by a lot, coach says that these are the best types of practices for us. We really worked on some more of our presses and into our two-three zone, so we can match-up against different teams, give them a different look. We just wanted to work on our game, making the extra pass, finding the best shot, not necessarily the best shot for ourselves, but the best shot for our team.
After a few slow starts, was the team focused on getting off to a strong start to today’s game?
Yeah, we talked about it. Obviously we didn’t come out with that great of intensity at the very start of the game. Sometimes that happens, but we picked it up later and took off.
On the play of the USA’s guards:
When the guards are knocking down shots, it makes it so much easier for us to post up inside and gives us more looks. Because their players aren’t sagging down inside, and when they are, we can kick it back out to our guards. It’s a really good inside-out action. We have really good guards.
On facing Canada and her future University of Illinois teammate Jaylyne Kirkpatrick in the quarterfinals:
Their point guard, Jaylyne Kirkpatrick, is actually coming to Illinois next year, so she and I have a little bit of a rivalry going over this game on Friday. I’m really excited to play them again. I think they’re really going to step it up a lot from the last time we played them (in Spain on July 13). North American rivalry, it’s going to be interesting, but we’re ready for them.
Do you two have a friendly wager going?
Oh, no, nothing like that. No, it’s just bragging rights. I really don’t want to hear her talking about it the rest of the season!
A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.)
What was the team’s game plan today?
It was to mainly focus on us and understand that we are going for something big. Now we’re in the part of the tournament where we can’t lose. We’re going for a medal and our biggest thing was trying to get a better start. We didn’t do as good a job of that as we wanted, but I see that we are improving. Offensively, it’s something we need on this team. So, for us to score quickly will be great and help us move forward to better start.
Today our focus was really on starting off better and I think we did a pretty good job on that. We did a very, very good job, the job that coach Staley wanted us to get done. We’re going to have to focus on that for these upcoming games.
How much does playing seven games in nine days factor into this team’s game plan?
That plays a huge factor. I think that’s something that I’m very glad that we have -- our depth. Any time  you can sit the starters down and a second group can go in and sometimes even a third wave can go in and you don’t skip a beat, that’s something very special. I think we’re the only team in the tournament that really has that depth and we use it to our advantage very well. The other group coming in behind the starters really get it done for us.
On playing Canada in the quarterfinals:
I think it’s going to be a good match-up. I’m not going to look at how we played against them in the tournament in Spain (on July 13). I think they’re going to be coming out to play. We both know that this game determines whether you play for a medal and anytime you play any team that’s going into (the medal round), they’re going to have a different mind-set that they have to give 100 percent.
Teams already play us harder because we’re the USA. We always get their best. So, we have to play even harder. They’re going to come out and give it their all and I know that we’re going to come out and give it our all, so it should be a good game. It’s interesting, because Canada’s the kind of team that plays a similar style of basketball as we do, so it’s going to be a good match-up for us.

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