Quotes: USA 87, Puerto Rico 65
USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
I think most of Puerto Rico’s Olympic team here. What did your group do to rally?
I think with this young group it is taking them a little bit of time to adjust to the physicality of it, what you could get away with out there on the floor, what you have to endure. It’s taken a quarter to get used to things, and once we've adjusted, I thought our defense was much better. I thought our ability to rebound the ball was great. But I just think for us, we have a tendency … we got a team full of great players who have the ability to score the basketball, and I think that's their first thought, is to get that ball up. But that's going to get better. I’d rather have our defense in in a great place. Each and every game, we're getting better with it. And then, last thing is the offense. I would like for our team to shoot it a little bit better, pass it a little bit more, find who should shoot it rather than I think sometimes we force it a little bit, and it's just because they're aggressive, and it takes a little bit longer for that part to develop.
How is it for your young players playing against pros?
I think it is great. All of our AmeriCup team members, players, they want to be pros. So being in this environment, seeing some of the Puerto Rican team just take advantage of us. They do that. They've been around this game a long time. They played it at this level, and it took us a long time to create some separation. I think our depth really helps us out. But if the game was based off of probably 10 possessions, I think it would favor the Puerto Rican team, because they are pros. They play extremely well together. They know where they want their shots to come from when you take that away. They have layers of people that can really knock down especially the 3- point shot
What adjustment did you make to try and stop Puerto Rico’s Jennifer O'Neill?
Jennifer O'Neill, I coached against her when she was at Kentucky. She was hard to deal with then, harder to deal with now. We just threw different people at her. We tried to throw some length at her. We tried to throw some speed at her. We tried to make it really hard for her to get open looks. We know she likes to juke us and is automatic when she goes left. We just tried to take those things away, make her put the ball on the floor and two us rather than 3 us. And it took a 40-minute effort for us to do that, and she's still scored 20 points on us.
Aliyah Boston (South Carolina/St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.)
How did you feel playing against the national team of Puerto Rico, which is a first-time Olympic team?
Going into the game, I was just really excited, because coaches talked about how great the team is, and that this is their Olympic team and that this team is going to Tokyo. So, I was just really excited, because at some point I want to be on the Olympic team, so to be able to play against this type of high-level competition, I was just really excited, and I'm just glad that we're able to get a nice team win.
What do you learn about your team in this game?
It just shows that our team, we're always going to put up a fight, and we're just going to keep going. They threw some good punches, and they got out to a lead, but we just kept coming back. We just kept coming back, and I think that was just great to learn about us.
What about the crowd for the home team?
Every time they scored the crowd was loud, and that's something that we definitely have to go up against – not only the people on the court, but the people in the crowd. So, we just had to figure out a way to dig deep and go against it.
Naz Hillmon (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio)
What are your thoughts about the way you guys rebound?
We knew that rebounding was important, especially when our shots were not falling, having to get second-chance opportunities was very important to make our run later in the game. I think that will be an emphasis throughout this tournament, especially since we have a height advantage.
That was a tough start before you guys started to pull away, what would you say about the grit you guys displayed?
I think we kept our composure. A lot of us have been in those situations, whether that's our college teams, or being with USA teams before – just knowing that it is a game of runs and that was an experienced team. But as long as we kept our heads on straight and continued to play our basketball, we knew we would be okay.
Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.)
Your thoughts on that game overall:
It was a tough one at the beginning. We knew they were going to come out hard, and we knew they were going hit some shots. Coach just told us to keep our confidence and stay with it and they would get tired, because they can't run with us. So, we just stayed together, and shots started falling.
In this close game at the start, was there any nerves?
We just stressed the game plan. Shots weren't falling at first, but everyone kept their heads up, and we just knew that whatever the coaches had told us, that it was going to start working and we just had to stay with it.
Haley Jones (Stanford/Santa Cruz, Calif.)
How did you guys feel out there?
Puerto Rico is an experienced team. They play very well together. We knew that they were going to come out on fire. They had a great crowd here, so we knew we just kind of had to weather the storm and it was going be a tough crowd. I think we showed that we have a lot of depth. We have a lot of different players that came in off the bench and made an impact. I think that's going to be a continuing theme throughout the rest of the tournament.