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Elissa Cunane

Quotes: USA 102, Dominican Republic 39

  • Date:
    Jun 12, 2021

Game Story

USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
Thoughts on the game:

As the game went on, I thought we made some adjustments, just the physicality of it. I thought we moved the ball a lot better. I thought we locked in defensively and played an imposing style of defense, and it was good to see some shots go in. And it was good just to play against someone else other than us, but we're looking forward to just continuing to get better as we as we continue to play games.

Tomorrow is possibly the most difficult game of the group stage against an Olympic team like Puerto Rico. With a young group of players, what will be the mental preparation of the team before a big challenge?
We just talked about that in the locker room. One of our coaches, Jen Rizzotti, has the Puerto Rican scout, and she just let our players know it's going to be a very challenging basketball game for us. Puerto Rico has a tendency to get hot. They space the floor. They drive. They dish. They play emotionally, that benefits them. They're here (at home). I mean, we have to just make sure our defense continues to get better – we stay connected, we continue to communicate out there on the floor. And then, for us, I do think we pose a challenge for them in the inside, because we have some height, some girth, and we have depth. So, we got to utilize all of that in what will be more than likely a hostile environment

How do you expect this to go with the USA being a young team?
We knew we were bringing a younger team into this environment, but the beauty about bringing a young team like this, I mean, they're eager to learn. They're eager to win. They compete at a very high level. And they're drawn to challenges, and what bigger way to be challenged than in an environment like this, and we look forward to our team continuing to get better and stay connected on both sides of the basketball. So, we're here, we got to play it, and we look forward to all the challenges that we’ll face.

What is the most important thing with this team for you?
The most important thing, everybody that got into the basketball game defended. That’s a pretty good dynamic to this basketball team, is they're able to defend, we're able to switch, we're able to communicate what we need to get done out there on the floor. And I just think everybody scoring is an added bonus.

Your thoughts on how the pandemic changed things and how has that worked for USA Basketball?
The real fortunate thing is that we were able to familiarize ourselves with what we had to go through on the collegiate level – testing every day, making sure that we're bubbled up. I think what everybody has done USA Basketball, all the dignitaries that put together the AmeriCup, what they've done is they put athletes in a in a safe space. Is it a sacrifice? Absolutely it is to stay in your hotel room, probably 20 out of the 24 hours of the day, minus practice, and the pool hour and the fitness hour, you're locked in your room. We're used to it, though. I think the most important thing is we have a tournament. We're able to play. We're able to do something that we absolutely love to do. And it somewhat feels like the norm, because we're able to come out here, play and actually, have some fans. I think two weeks ago, we didn't know whether or not we were going to have fans. But we got fans in the stands, and that makes it feel like it's a normal competition, and we're grateful for that.

Aliyah Boston (South Carolina/St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.)
Was this the start the team wanted?
I think this was a great start. The team played really well. We did a great job of sharing the ball, and we did really well on defense, so it was a pretty great first game.

What about getting on the court with your teammates? Did you feel like the chemistry was there after a long training camp?
I think there was great chemistry. I think after our training camp, we just know what each other likes to do, and we're able to find the right person to shoot the ball.

Elissa Cunane (NC State/Summerfield, N.C.)
How much fun was that to get on the court?
It was so much fun to get the first game under our belt. It was my first time in a USA uniform on the court, so it was just good to get out there, run and really click as a team.

Destanni Henderson (South Carolina/Fort Meyers, Fla.)
Thoughts on the game:
I feel like our defense is what started our offense. In the second half, I feel like it opened up the floor more. I feel like we gave up on unselfish plays, we were giving the ball up for the better shot. I just feel like we were playing well together tonight, and we just got to keep going with that and just find our niche to keep playing games.

Ashley Owusu (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.)
Can you talk about how you guys shot the ball as a team today?
I think we shot the ball. It was our first game, but we came out aggressive. We just took great shots and had extra, one-more passes.

For your first game, how was the chemistry?
It felt great. I think the chemistry was good – personally speaking, and I think I can speak for everyone else. But it was our first game, and we have another one tomorrow, so we got to turn the page and get ready for that one.


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