Additional Quotes: USA National Team 79, Italy 66
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
On tonight’s game:
We talked after that game that it’s always going to be difficult. It doesn’t matter who you play, when you’re playing another country’s national team, you know they’re going to be good and you know you’re going to have to work hard at it. There were stretches of the game where we really played well, and there were stretches of the game where we let them do a lot of things that hurt us. But, I think that’s why we’re here. We want to know a little more about our players. So, whenever you’re pushed a little bit like you were today, that’s a good thing.
Different players had spurts throughout the game. Was that a good thing for you to see?
Absolutely. You want to find out who steps up and separates themselves a little bit. You always want, especially when it’s somebody like Angel who has been here before and has done that. She’s unique. There’s nobody on our team like her and there’s nobody on the other team like her. She can do things that are very, very difficult for people to handle. So, I’m not surprised at her play. She had a really good game tonight.
And Candice Dupree came off the bench and gave us exactly what we needed. Candice is so smooth and plays the game in a really quiet way, but a very efficient way and tonight she did all those things she’s good at.
Do you enjoy the challenge of facing a team with no scouting report and having to make adjustments on the fly?
That is kind of tough, because you are playing teams where you know nothing about their personnel; you know nothing about what they’re going to run, what their tendencies are. You don’t know anything. So, you are going to have to try to figure it out on the fly. You do need your players to pay attention, but you’re also trying to figure out with your own team, you think ‘Okay, who can do that? Who can see things quickly and adapt?’ The whole point of the trip is not to figure out physically who’s really good, but mentally who can handle this stuff. So, any time we’re in this type of situation I think it’s good. I think it’s really good.
Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury)
On tonight’s game:
I don’t think our defense was very good. They were making a lot of shots. We weren’t moving the ball very well, we were trying to play one-on-one and we can’t do stuff like that. As long as we move the ball, take good shots and get shots, we’ll be okay.
What adjustments were made in the third-quarter break?
We went back to our transition game. We were able to get stops, get the rebounds, just get out and run. That’s hard for other teams to defend. We were able to wear them down in the fourth quarter and get easy buckets.
What did you see that your teammates did well tonight?
In the second half we were doing a better job of moving the ball. We got a lot more assists, we did a better job of crashing the boards, just moving around the person with the ball, and we played much better defense in the second half.
Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)
On how she felt in the game against Italy:
It was good, but I was a little frustrated at first. In the beginning I missed some chippies. I wasn’t putting myself in the right position; I kind of had some jitters. I was able to get the jitters out in the first half and in the second half I was able to be productive for the team.
On her perfect shooting from the line:
I was really happy about that. Free throws are a big thing for me. I lost the game for us in college, so I never wanted that to be on my shoulders again.
What were some of the good things you saw from your team tonight?
Candace Parker once again had some great passes. She told me in practice to keep my hands up and it showed tonight with passes to everybody. She sees you and she gets it there. It’s exciting for the crowd, but it gets us going too. Everybody’s doing little tricky passes, but Candace Parker definitely stood out for me.
Do you embrace the challenge of facing a team that you know nothing about?
I think it’s good. It makes us think on our feet. It makes us react on the court. The first time they do something, okay we learned that. The second time, all right, that’s on us. By the third time, we should have it by then, just like coach said in practice a couple days ago. But, I like it. I like not knowing because you go into some games with the scouting report and you try to play that, but we’re professional athletes and sometimes you get tied up into the scouting reports too much. I like this kind of challenge.
Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)
On tonight’s game:
I think it was a good game for us. Like coach said, we needed a good game like this, a good test to see where we’re at. They tied the game up at halftime because of our lack of defense, but we picked it up in the second half.
What did coach talk to you about at halftime?
Just that they were outplaying us. They were playing harder. We’re not going to beat teams because of the name across our chest, we have to come out and work hard.
Was it frustrating that you weren’t able to pull away until late in the game?
It’s not frustrating, because that’s the game. That’s what you would expect. We haven’t been together for very long, but it’s good to see that we were able to work together to pull it out.