Additional Quotes: USA 91, China 51
USA head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio (Pittsburgh)
What was the game plan against China tonight?
Defensively, we tried to stay in place, limit penetration and really focus on defending their offense. Our players came out with a focus and energy defensively, and we were really impressed with the way we defended dribble penetration, contesting shots. The first half, we limited them to 15 points. I think our defense created a lot of opportunities in transition and other scoring opportunities. Great first half coming out with a lot of energy.
We got contributions from everyone. Every player scored. We had five players in double figures. Our players were impressive today, especially in the first half. Offensively, when China mixed up their defenses – they went zone, then went man and tried to do some different things – our players responded to the changes and adjustments throughout the course of the game. When you put 91 points on the board and you’re getting contributions from everyone – and that’s what we need moving forward. We will continue to need contributions from each and every player.
What kinds of improvements have you seen in this team from the exhibitions through now?
The exhibition games and scrimmages were so valuable for us as far as international experience – the physicality of the games, the ways referees were calling travels on us early on. We learned a lot about ourselves and where we needed to improve. It started on the defensive end, being a better team defensively by sitting in driving lines, better help defense, better post defense, better help on the guards, getting up full-court and disrupting what other teams are trying to do.
Offensively, developing that chemistry. Once we saw how other teams were playing us, we implemented some new things into our system to utilize our strengths – some for guards, some for posts. It seems to be beneficial to us to have more in. It was so tough for us to have only one week to train and practice and put so much in, but once we got over here and had that opportunity to see teams play against what we have in, we were able to put some additional stuff in offensively.
Chennedy Carter (Timberview H.S./Mansfield, Texas)
How were you able to start off strong and put the game away early?
We just started off with composure, we stayed composed. We moved the ball a lot and swung it in our offense. We played as a team and we were successful. We got out to that great start and got a good lead in the beginning.
How was today’s game indicative of this team’s depth?
Today showed we have a lot of depth on our bench. It’s not just one player, two players or three players, we can go deep into our bench and everybody could start or produce for us in any way that we need them to.
What’s the early thought on Italy having played them in an exhibition already?
Coach told us they have a good point guard and a great post player that can finish around the rim. We have to play defense and really, just keep doing what we are doing, and hopefully, we can win again and keep this streak going.
Crystal Dangerfield (Connecticut/Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
How were you able to put the game away early?
We tried to focus on their penetration. We knew they had a big girl, and we wanted to be able to shut her down early.
What did you think of the inside play today?
They were really physical. I was really happy to see that. Moving forward, that is going to be huge.
How important is it to get better over this next week?
The first two games looked really good. If we can continue that, I see us moving forward in this tournament.
How difficult do you think it is for other teams to defend this team’s depth?
Just being able to have all types of weapons on the floor makes it hard for another team to stop every single one of them, because there are no weak links. As long as we can continue to do that, I like our chances.
What’s the outlook on Italy on Tuesday?
We will have to sit down and play some defense. They are going to come out really aggressive, and they will definitely use their home court advantage on us. If we can stop that early, we should have a good chance.
Joyner Holmes (Texas/Cedar Hill, Texas)
What are thoughts on China’s play today?
China was a fast team, they played fast-paced. They looked to get the ball up in transition. They did a lot of backdoor cuts, especially in that second half. I think we just had to play solid on defense and be disciplined on defense in order to pull out this win tonight.
What worked so well in that first half?
Every team is coming for us. We’re the USA, so every team is coming for us. I think we have some steam under our belt and we’re ready to go. We’re fired up for every game, and I think we want to win this as much as any other team. We want to get the gold. So, we are just playing together, keeping it positive on the bench and on the court.
What kind of improvements has the team made this past week?
We are sharing the ball more and we are fitting into our offense and playing our roles well. Just sharing the ball and playing our roles is really starting to play out. Everybody doesn’t have to score. We can go really deep into our bench. We don’t have just one solid post or two solid guards. We can go deep, so that’s helpful as well.