Additional Quotes: USA Women’s AmeriCup Team 110, Paraguay 31
Dawn Staley (South Carolina), USA head coach
Every opportunity we get to prep, we want to play at our very best. For this particular training we want to get better defensively. I thought this was a great start for us to really concentrate and make that a focal point, and we executed.
You had a very large lead, yet you were still playing tough defense and chasing loose balls, even though you have a 70-point lead. Is that what you want to see from your team?
I want our players to always respect our opponents and respect the game of basketball. We really only know one way to play and that’s to play hard, play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. So, we don’t really look at the score. We’re looking at how hard we’re able to execute on both sides of the ball, and I thought for a 40-minute stretch, we did that.
Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the last time the USA lost a game in a senior competition. How does the USA’s program remain so dominant?
It’s the commitment of our players. The players, some of our best players, if the WNBA playoffs weren’t going on right now, we would have our best players competing for us. They continue to come out year in and year out because they know that playing for USA Basketball is like no other, no other team that they’ve ever experienced because of the culture, because of the winning, because of the coming together for one common goal and that’s to win a gold medal.
On Arike Ogunbowale’s play in her first USA Basketball National Team game:
Arike’s a tremendous player. I’m finally glad we’re able to get her into our national team pool, where she can play Arike-type basketball. What’s really good about it is that she gets the chance to play with Sylvia Fowles and Tina Charles, Olympians who have been around our program for a long time and learn from them.
On having so many young players on this team:
We want to make sure that all of our players in our pool get a chance to play at this level. We don’t know what’s going to happen a year from now. So, we want to make sure that we get a large pool of players ready to play in the 2020 Olympic Games, knowing that we can only take 12.
What did you like about today’s game?
What I liked about it was that we were able to share the basketball. We were able to stay connected defensively. We made adjustments from the first quarter to the second quarter and onto the third and fourth quarters. We fouled a lot in the first quarter. We made an adjustment and our players really executed what we wanted, which was to decrease the amount of fouling and to make people score over us because we had the size advantage. I thought we did a really good job of staying connected defensively.
How do you keep focused on the goal of winning gold in such a lopsided game?
For us, we really … do we want to win basketball games? Absolutely. This is preparation for the 2020 Games, so we’re not really looking at the score. We’re looking at what we’re able to execute at different times, different places in the game. For us, having three or four days of practice, I thought we did a really good job. It was encouraging knowing what the potential of the team is, what we can do on both sides of the ball.
Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky)
How did it feel to play in an official event with the USA National Team?
It felt really good. I can honestly say, being in a USA Basketball uniform since I was 14, it’s kind of like everything I’ve ever wanted coming to fruition. So, this was nice to get my first game in with the USA National Team.
What were you working on once you pulled away from Paraguay?
We knew that we were putting Paraguay on the free throw line a lot, so we just worked on staying solid defensively and making them score over us.
Other thoughts on the game?
I’m just really happy to be here. I’m really impressed with the way that we played. Obviously, we’re here for one thing and I’m just excited to be chasing that gold medal with this group of girls and coaches as well.
Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)
On being the veteran on a team of younger players:
It was more about getting back into the flow of things. I think the younger girls came out and played well. We just tried to feed off of their energy and go out there and lead by example.
On sharing the court with some players for the first time:
They were very focused. They ran the plays right, so I’m very happy about that. At the same time, they were very aware of what was going on on the floor. They made some right reads, and they also played well.
What can you take away from a game like this?
Just the confidence part, making sure everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s playing for the number one common goal and that’s to win. We know it’s going to get harder as it goes along, but that’s the beauty about being here and sticking together as a team.
Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings)
You’ve played a lot of USA Basketball games at the junior level, but this was the first for the USA National Team. What did that mean to you?
It was really exciting to be able to play with all these great players and get the first one under the belt. It’s definitely a blessing to be here and I’m excited for the week.
Is it hard to not play down to an over matched opponent but to continue to play at your level?
It’s not that tough because we know what the ultimate goal is, and these are just steps to get to the ultimate goal. We definitely try to go out and dominate however we can and not play down.
What were you trying to work on in the second half?
Trying to push the tempo, run our plays through, execute and try not to foul. Just little details that will be really important once we get further in the tournament.
Who played well today in your opinion?
Everybody, really. But Olivia (Nelson-Ododa) did well. With her still being in college and being able to be physical and finish with contact, she and really everybody played well.