Additional Quotes: USA AmeriCup Team 89, Brazil 73
Dawn Staley (South Carolina), USA head coach
What we have is full commitment from our players, from our very best players. If that continues, it will put us in position to continue to win gold medals. But for us, we know the pressure’s on us every time we step on the floor, and we know that pressure is gold or failure. We play under that (pressure), we prep under that (pressure), and obviously these tournaments help us as we continue to try to gel as a team.
On playing Puerto Rico in the semifinals:
Puerto Rico is a great, young team. They’ll be challenging. I think what we have to do is utilize our depth. We have a roster of 12 players and 12 players who can challenge the best around the world. We’re going to have to really utilize our depth to our advantage.
They’ve got great guard play. I’ve had the pleasure of playing against one of Puerto Rico’s top guards in Jennifer O’Neill. She’s done a tremendous job. She scored a lot of points against us when she was at Kentucky and I was at South Carolina. I like the speed and athleticism as a whole of the team.
Were you surprised at Brazil’s level of talent?
No. We know, historically speaking, Brazil’s always been great. They’ve always been great against us. We didn’t think it was going to be any different today. So, when you play against a team like Brazil, you’re going to be challenged in a lot of different ways. They have some experience. Their post players are probably two of the best in the world. So, we knew we were going to be challenged in that way. We have some players who haven’t played at this level, on this stage, for USA Basketball, so we’re working through some things. The good thing about us, we’ve got a roster full of players who are able to step up and play three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes, or an entire game. So, we’re fortunate in that way.
On the team’s depth:
Anytime we go into a tournament for USA Basketball, that’s the separator for us. If we only had five or seven players, I think countries would make it a lot more difficult to win basketball games. What separates us is our ability to call on anybody’s number down that bench. More times than not, they’ve answered the call and they’ve done it in a way in which we’re proud and they’re proud of their performance.
Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm)
Was it good to have a tougher game heading into the semifinals?
It was good for us. It really shows where we’re at on the defensive end and the offensive end. Brazil was very physical. We had to try to match their intensity and push the tempo as well. But I think it was really good for us. It showed us what we really need to work on. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll clean up some things.
How were you able to adjust to players being in foul trouble?
It’s tough when our bigs are in foul trouble, but we’re still pretty quick. When we go small, we’re able to run, push the tempo and create opportunities on the fast-break and get some stops on the defensive end.
On the speed of Diamond DeShields:
Diamond’s first step, I’ve never seen anything like it before. She’s super quick. She can get to the basket in one or two steps. When we have somebody like that, you can just kick it up to them and watch them do their thing. So, I’m glad we have Diamond on our team.
Tina Charles (New York Liberty)
Are you surprised at the level of play from Brazil?
No. I’m not surprised at all. Through my tenure with USA Basketball, I know that Brazil is going to give you their everything. They’re an emotional team. They feed off of each other. So, the way (Damiris) Dantas played, (Erika) De Souza, those two are really big for them, and they did a good job.
Some games you’ve been a defender, other games you’ve been more of a facilitator, today you were a scorer. How easy is it to switch roles from game to game?
I think that’s an advantage that I have had with the great coaches that I’ve had along the way. Our main focus is to establish big Syl (Fowles). She’s a dominant force down there. She’s our big weapon. So, I’ll do whatever I have to do for this team.
What do you need to do to continue to improve in the semifinals?
Just continue to focus on our defense, which always starts our offense. We want to push it on defense. That’s something that Dawn (Staley) has established and that’s what she wants us to do. And also getting on the boards.
Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky)
On today’s game:
It was good. I feel that we’re one of the better teams here, so it was nice to match-up with another team and have a closer game like that before we get into the medal round.
On playing Puerto Rico
It’s always tough to play the home team because they bring fans and they bring energy. We know how much it means to represent your country, especially on your home turf. So, we’ve got to come and be us, play our game and I think we’ll be fine.
Sylvia Fowles was in foul trouble early in the game. What kind of adjustments did you make with her out of the game?
This is a team full of great players. Obviously, we have a size advantage down low but when Syl went out early, we had to step up on the perimeter and just make plays.