Additional Quotes: USA National Team 85, ZVVZ USK Prague 53
Prague, Czech Republic
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
On tonight's game:
I thought the first 15 minutes that we played in the first half was our best 15 minutes of basketball of the whole trip, against the best team that we played the whole trip. The last five minutes of the first half we weren't so good. It got away from us a little bit. But then we came out in the second half and played 20 minutes of really, really, really good basketball.
After all the travel and after all the time in hotels and buses and planes, and only three practices and three shoot-arounds, for our team to come out and play the way we did against a very good team, I think that says a lot about the group that we have. It couldn't have ended on a higher note.
What did you talk about at halftime after that run of turnovers towards the end of the first half?
There were a couple of bad decisions, a couple of bad match-ups out there. I told them I had a bad line-up out there. I think we had a line-up that didn't function very well; they weren't able to help themselves. Sometimes that happens when you're trying to make sure everybody plays a lot. These guys are here trying to impress the committee. So, we just said, 'Look, let's go out in the second half. Let's put together the same kind of a run we had in the first 15 minutes and finish this thing off the right way.' And we did. It started off with our defense like they did in the first half. We got a great contribution from everybody.
Wrap up this training camp, what did you get out of it?
It's interesting, because it's not easy. We're not going to see these guys now for a few months. How are you going to make this decision? It's going to be hard. You've got some young players who are here, 'Sloot (Courtney Vandersloot), D-Rob (Danielle Robinson), Stewie (Breanna Stewart), Elena Delle Donne, Stef (Dolson), they've never participated in anything like this. So, you've got a lot of players where this is their first time. And all of them kind of did a little bit to make you think that these guys, they need to be in the mix.
And then you have the older guys, Sue (Bird), Angel (McCoughtry), Candace Parker, Candice Dupree, Brittney (Griner), they all acted like they've been there before to a certain extent, yet they also acted like they had something to prove. I don't ever want our team to be complacent.
Overall, I thought the trip was great. It was great because like I said earlier, you have to be able to give your time to USA Basketball. A lot of players choose not to, for whatever reason, it's their prerogative. I'm really thankful that these players gave their time to be here. And to wrap it up the way we wrapped up was great.
As General Dempsey said, we wanted to make sure it mattered. And you know what? When you look at the end of this trip, it mattered.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On tonight’s game:
With any USA Basketball team, the longer we’re together, the more cohesive we are and the better we’re going to play, just because we’re more comfortable playing together. Tonight was a really good sign of that. It’s just been 10 days and you saw a really good sign of that.
Wrap up the tour, what did you see as the veteran leader from this group of players?
This was a really good mix of players because there are a few of us who are Olympians and who have done this, but there were a lot of young players who had never done one of these training camps with the USA National Team and with an Olympics coming up, it presents a lot of opportunity for them and a chance for them to play with them, for us to play with them and see how it went. Overall it was really good.
Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)
The last few minutes of the first half there were several turnovers and Prague seemed to be coming back. What did coach talk to you about at halftime?
Just to take care of the ball. I think we were just over passing a little bit. In the second half we fixed that.
Was it good to end this tour on a good note like this?
Absolutely. Coach in the beginning told us to make this trip matter. We didn't want to just come here and waste our time. I feel like we got a lot accomplished; we got a lot done. I've gotten to know a lot of these players better, both on and off the court. So, I really enjoyed this trip. And, I got to see some new places that I've never seen like Barcelona and Rome.
How much will this help the USA team overall for next summer?
We have a lot of girls who will be on the team, like Sue Bird, Candace Parker and Brittney Griner, so it helps us to have some people here who can come and train, as many as we can. We know some people are still playing, but this just shows the strength of the team.
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
On the strong start tonight:
We knew that they were a good team. It was revenge for me, because we lost to them in the EuroLeague finals last year, so there was a little bit more fuel to my fire.
I think we all came out and played well as a team and it was a good way to end the trip.
When we play together and we move the ball and play really good defense, there are very few teams that are going to be able to deal with that for 40 minutes. It's just about persistence. We let down our guard a little bit going into halftime, but we were able to come back and play well in the second half.
What did you get out of this camp?
I think it was great. I played with some people I hadn't ever played with. I enjoyed everybody. We got to know each other a little bit better and I think we accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish.
How much will this camp help benefit the team next summer?
I think this definitely helps. Obviously it was good preparation. We don't know who the team is going to be made up of, but every time we go out and play with USA across our chest, we need to go out and be the best team in the country.