Additional Quotes: USA U19 Women 95, Canada 40 (Exhibition)
USA U19 head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
Was the team’s start a matter of everyone being more focused and ready?
We came in with a different type of focus. We have a better understanding of international play, and we also have a better understanding of what we’re good at and what we’re trying to be good at. When you have those things factoring in, you tend to get a basketball club that can apply a lot of pressure and force teams into taking bad shots or contested shots when we’re all on one page and we understand what the task at hand is. I thought we did a great job of adjusting to international play and what we need to do to be effective.
Was it the team’s defense that sparked the offense?
It was totally a defensive effort where we forced Canada into taking some ill-advised shots. We made it really hard for them to see options out there on the floor. We knew they would come in with a lot of sets. They back cut, they slipped screens and we told them to apply a lot of pressure, which would buy our players some time if they weren’t able to stay in the play.
From Gabbi (Ortiz), who started the pressure out front, it just extended to Z (Azurá Stevens), to A’ja (Wilson), to Pheese (Napheesa Collier), and then when our bench came into the game, they also fed off the energy of what the starters gave us.
What is Canada’s team like?
Canada is one that, if you allow them to run their offensives fluently, they lead to easy baskets. We knew that if we took the strength of what they do away, it plays in our favor. Canada is a good team. They are without a couple of their starting guards, so I think they’re feeling a little bit of the pressure of other people having to fill in for what those other guards gave them.
One of their guards who played on their U18 team last year, Shay Colley, who will be an incoming freshman for our team, she made the national team. But, she got hurt, so she couldn’t play in the Pan American Games.
We’re down a guard as well, so you have to be able to adjust and continue to play.
On the USA’s well-balanced team:
It’s great to see that kind of effort spread out, because it’s going to take all of us to win a gold medal in Russia. It’s great to see Z (Azurá Stevens) get on track and it was great to see Pheese (Napheesa Collier) play like we’re accustomed to seeing her play. It was everybody, everybody who got in the game, Gabbi (Ortiz) and Crystal (Dangerfield), they all did a great job. Even Lauren (Cox) and Kristine (Anigwe), who didn’t get a whole lot of minutes yesterday, were able to get some really valuable minutes to learn, continue to grow and help us win the gold medal.
Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.)
How were you able to pull away so early?
We got on the boards early, getting a lot of rebounds and putting them back up. I think that really helped us to kick it off.
Were you more focused to start the game or did you just want to make a statement from the beginning?
I think both, because yesterday wasn’t our best day. We tried to come out really hard, and we were super focused. That helped spur the run we went on.
On the USA’s defense:
It definitely helped us today. We were getting a lot of steals, and those led to a lot of transition baskets.
Who stood out today?
Everyone played really well today. Shakayla (Thomas) had a lot of good rebounds for us and Z (Azurá Stevens) did really well. We played really well as a team.
On Spain, tomorrow’s opponent:
I know they move around a lot. They’re pretty quick. We’re going to have to be on our toes the whole game.
Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.)
How were you able to build an early lead?
We just got out to a really good start. We came out attacking aggressively on defense, which led to offense. I thought that really helped a lot.
Were you feeling it today or were your teammates finding you in the right spots?
Kind of a little bit of both. It was a whole different look than yesterday, and my teammates were really helping out a lot with that, finding me in the right spots and setting me up for success. So, that was nice.
On Canada’s team:
They did a lot of cutting and moving throughout. They were always moving. They weren’t ever standing still. We had to be constantly conscious of that while we were playing, and whether we were going to switch beneath or stay above them, things like that.
On the USA’s balanced scoring:
It was a collective effort. Everybody came in and did what they had to do and played as a team. That’s just going to help us in the end to be the most successful, everybody coming in and doing what they do best. It was all a collective effort as a team.
We watched a little bit of their game yesterday. They have a lot of good guards who know how to set their teammates up well. It’ll be a tough match-up there, but if we come out and play like we did today, we’ll be fine.
Shakayla Thomas (Florida State/Sylacauga, Ala.)
How were you able to build an early lead?
It was more of a team effort. We went in with the mindset that we were just going to play our game.
Did you imagine you would be able to build such an early lead?
No, I thought it was going to be one of those tough games where we were going to have to work hard the whole time.
On the USA’s balanced effort:
We are all willing to work hard and do whatever takes to get to the basket.
Is it hard for teams to guard the USA when there are so many scoring options?
Yes, it makes things very difficult. You can’t guard just one person on the team. You have to look out for everybody and know you have to guard everybody.
With two international games under your belt, are there differences from NCAA play?
I don’t see a difference. I just play my game; see how it goes. International or national, I just play my game.