Additional Quotes: USA 84, Spain 72
Suzie McConnell-Serio (USA and University of Pittsburgh head coach)
Was this a good first test for the team?
It was a great first test for us. Spain was a very good team. They were relentless with their pressure full court, and made us work for 40 minutes. I think it was a great challenge for us to handle that type of pressure. We’re trying to play 12 players and still work on combinations throughout the course of the game, but they never quit. They just kept coming at us and coming at us. I thought we had a lot of good looks throughout the game that we just didn’t’ finish very well. They came back and tied it. When they tied it, out of the timeout, we just talked about us needing to pick it up defensively and disrupting. That group on the floor at the end of the game finished with a 12-0 run, and gave us that win. We were able to pull away and make plays when we needed to, but it’s something that, from a learning standpoint, we have to compete like that for 40 minutes and not wait until the end of the game to turn up our defense.
What did Spain do well to climb back into the game?
They were just very efficient. They kept running their offense and made adjustments. When we were chasing off screens, they were sometimes curling. If we over-helped, they were finding people. I think they were capitalizing on things we weren’t doing defensively in the second half. I thought we played good help throughout the course of the first half. Sometimes it’s just combinations. We are trying to find playing time in these types of games just to see who is game ready for us, so some combinations were better than others offensively and defensively, and that is something we will have to evaluate to see who we need on the floor in crunch time.
It seemed players who have international experience seemed to play well today, do you agree?
Experience is very valuable. In the second half we had Ty Harris and Crystal Dangerfield on the floor together. With them coming at us full court and the pressure, double teaming, having two point guards on the floor for us was important, because we were able to handle that pressure a little better with two ball-handlers and not just one person having that responsibility alone. But, I just thought, coming down the stretch, Crystal hit a big three and Bella (Alarie) got to the free throw line. You look at Ruthy (Hebard), she had a layup and Ty had a steal and layup. The scoring opportunities that we created down the stretch is what we need to see more often. These players are all capable of hitting shots. We could still have a little jet lag, but that’s not an excuse. We still need to compete for 40 minutes. We’re capable of that.
Crystal Dangerfield (Connecticut/Murfreesboro, TN)
How did it feel to get out there today?
It felt good. We got those travel bugs out of our system. I think we showed really good poise down the stretch. They tied the game up, but we were able to hold them off.
Did you feel today’s top players were ones that have played international ball before?
I think so. It just comes with experience. Some of them have already played that year of college, so I think, that factors into it. But, it’s going to take all of us to get the job done.
You had a couple of big shots at the end – did you just take it upon yourself to score in crunch time?
Yeah, honestly. Knowing the time and score, just having the confidence to hit the shot.
Was Spain a good test?
I think so. They’ve always been good from everything I know about them. They’ve always been good and they were consistent tonight. They played hard, so I think that was a good game for us.
Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, AK)
Overall thoughts on the game?
I think it was a good game. I think it was a good game to test the waters to see what other teams might throw at us, and we played really well.
What did you think of Spain’s play?
They are a really good team. I think this win will boost us forward going to play Italy tomorrow, which should be a lot of fun.
How were you able to hold off Spain in the end?
We had a lot of turnovers. That’s something we need to focus on, getting the ball into the right players’ hands. But, at the end of the day, I think our defense won it.