USA World Cup Team Practice Quotes
USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
On the USA’s quarterfinal versus Nigeria:
I think with Nigeria, they pose a different challenge in that they feed off of what they do defensively, so they like to create offense from their defense. So, we got to make sure that we are ready for them to press us full court, some half-court trapping. Rebounding, they lead this tournament in rebounds – overall rebounds, and I think offensive rebounds, as well as they get to the free throw line a lot. So, we have to be disciplined defensively, and we got to take care of the ball offensively, and basically just be us. I would like to see us, certainly, decrease the amount of production as far as points from our opponents, and I’d like to see us put 100 points on the scoreboard. That means we are going something right on both sides of the ball.
How does the pressure change heading into quarterfinals and the rounds in which you have to win to advance to the medal semifinals?
There is some pressure, because now we get into where we are one-and-done; we can’t get to the medal rounds, what we came to do. There is pressure, but I think how you handle pressure is you stay as close to what you have been doing from the time that we have been together, all the way through. The players understand where we are. We’ve all been here before, and the ones who haven’t, they need to follow the lead of the people that have been here, and they’ll be in a good place.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On the growth of the women’s game globally:
The sport continues to grow. Teams have gotten better and better. You see teams like Nigeria, Senegal, teams that haven’t ever won in international play now getting multiple wins in tournaments. That’s just one example. You could go down the line of every team, teams like Argentina qualifying, Puerto Rico qualifying. So, across the board every team’s level of play is increasing. And I think a large part of that is because women’s basketball is in the forefront now.
Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun)
On the team’s practice and playing Nigeria:
Practice is kind of short and sweet at this point. It’s one of our last practices before the next three games. We’re just getting everything tightened up. We are building our chemistry and played better defense the last game. We’re trying to build on that defensive effort. We know that they’re super-athletic, they want to pressure you. So, we have to take care of the ball because their best offense is their defense. So, taking care of the ball is going to be big for us. We just need to be sharp and get off to a good start.
How much will it help to have all 12 of you playing?
That’ll be nice, because we have some pretty good players. It’ll be nice to have Elena and Sue back. I think it’ll be really good. We haven’t had a chance to see what we look like at full strength yet. It’s great that we won three games not at full strength, it speaks to our depth. But, having everybody there will be great in making a big, hard push through the next three days.
Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)
What is it like for you to know you will be facing Nigeria?
It is historical. I think it’s awesome. My family is excited. Not just because I’m playing against the country from which my heritage is from, but also to see the development of the game in that country. I think it is really great.
Do you know any of the team?
Yeah. I know Sarah (Imovbioh), I know Adaora (Elonu), (Promise) Amukamara. I know quite a few of them, but, two of them are from Houston. There are lot of Nigerians in Houston, and I played against quite a few. And, of course, Evelyn (Akhator). I know her. She plays in the WNBA.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On playing Nigeria:
They’ve been playing unbelievably. I’ve watched a couple of their games. They play with such energy, such passion, and they’re doing a lot of things on the court that make it difficult for their opponents. It’s going to be a challenge. Every game, once you get to the quarterfinals, is hard. They’re there for a reason and we’re going to have to play really well to win.
On not having to play 35 minutes a game with this team:
One thing about USA Basketball that’s always been nice is that you come here and you know the load is going to be distributed evenly. You know everyone’s going to have a little piece. Sue and I, we always tell that to the younger kids who come into camp and try to do a lot. Literally, I come down, I pass the ball to the best post players in the world and I wait for an open 3. That has been my job with USA Basketball for 12 years. And I’m completely content with it.
The USA will be in the hunt to earn a 10th World Cup gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain. Follow along on the team’s journey on usab.com and through USA Basketball’s social media as the team goes for gold.