Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

#Rio2016: USA practice quotes before quarterfinals begin, game vs. Japan on tap

Published on August 15, 2016

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Diana Taurasi talks to the media at practice during the Rio 2016 Olympic games on August 11, 2016. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images.

Diana Taurasi talks to the media at practice during the Rio 2016 Olympic. Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images.

Full Schedule and Group Standings

Teams that advanced to the quarterfinals of the Rio Games begin play Tuesday. The U.S. and Australia are the only teams to advance undefeated at 5-0. The Aussies face Serbia (2-3) while the U.S. takes on Japan (3-2). The other two games include Spain (4-1) vs. Turkey (3-2) and France (3-2) vs. Canada (3-2).

After Monday’s practice, the U.S. faced the media. Here is a transcript of that session.

Geno Auriemma
So many of your players play internationally; Most of the players left in the tournament they play with or against, how much does that help you guys that they know them?
I think that’s one of the main requirements I think of being a really good player here at the Olympics is the fact that you are experienced in international play. And that doesn’t mean just you’re experienced in the ways of the international game, which are different that they are in the WNBA or in college, but you’re also familiar with the players you’re going to have to play against. So the players that I have on the team for the most part I don’t think, maybe some players from Asia, but then again a lot of those guys play internationally, so these players have played at one time of another either on the same team as a lot of the players here on other teams or against in either league play overseas or some kind of tournament. They know us and we know them, let’s put it that way.

Does it help you with the limited training time you have that it’s not a surprise or some player you’ve never heard of is going to go off?
Yeah. What helps us the most is we have a lot of talent. What helps us the most is we have 12 really, really good players. If our players weren’t as good as they are the limited amount of time would really hurt us, but they’re really good. And as you saw yesterday (versus China) with 40 assists, I mean they’re really unselfish, and they play well together. But you watch Japan play on film and they do things that I don’t think there’s another team in the world that plays the way they do, that plays as quickly as they play, that plays as crisp together as they play, and does as many things that you have to defend as Japan does. I think they’re unique in the world in that aspect.

Tina Charles
On playing Japan:
I think playing against Canada and China has definitely prepared us for Japan’s style of play. I know they have Tok (Ramu Tokashiki) that plays for Seattle, who definitely has been leading her team to certain victories. So, we know that they are going to come out hard and push the pace. Basketball is a game of runs, and we are not going to let anything get us down. We are looking forward to it.

Elena Delle Donne
Are you looking forward to tomorrow’s quarterfinal game?
I am, I can’t wait. Obviously it’s going to be a little bit of a different vibe, knowing it’s going to be a one-and-done atmosphere, but we’re very prepared, excited and ready. I think that’s when we step up and do our best. It’ll be a great challenge.

On playing Japan:
They like to run in transition. Their bigs are smaller, so they move a lot offensively. Their plays are just constant movement. Defensively I feel like they’re going to try to trap a little bit, make switches, just anything to mess with our offense. We should be fine as long as we’re patient and play great defense.

How’s your eye?
It’s good. I’m cleared, so I’m very happy about that. It’s a little black and blue, but other than that, it’s fine. I’m good to go.

Have you been able to do anything off the court?
Yes, obviously I went to Christ the Redeemer with the team the other day. That was an awesome thing to do. The size of the statue was something I’d never imagined it would be. Then I was able to get to men’s beach volleyball and I saw Phelps and Ledecky swim (August 12), and that’s about it.

Brittney Griner
On playing Japan:
It’s going to be a tough game. They love to get out and run in transition. They love to push the ball. Each game is going to get tougher and tougher, no matter what they score may be. They (opponents) play harder and harder, and they are here for a reason. So, I expect a tough game.

Now that it’s the quarterfinals, does anything change for the USA?
We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, or anything like that. We’re just fine-tuning a couple of little things. We watched film and went over some stuff today. We are going to go over some more stuff tomorrow at shoot around on how we want to defend certain pick-and-rolls and certain things we are going to try and throw at them. But, it’s the same. We’re not going to get away from what got us here.

Maya Moore
On playing Japan:
It should be a good matchup. I feel like they’ve got players that really have a lot of energy. They keep moving and fighting hard. They are very skilled. They look for each other well, so it will be a good challenge for us.

Now that it’s the quarterfinals, does anything change for the USA?
I think every game that we play, we want to increase our intensity and our focus, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing. So, we just want to lock into their style of play and be able to make adjustments quickly during the game, and play this game like it’s our last.

Breanna Stewart
Did you get to know Ramu Tokashiki well during the Seattle Storm season?
We’ve had the whole first half of the season to get to know each other. Right from the start, just interacting with her as much as I possibly could. She’s super athletic, a great competitor and she’s just a great person. I think it’s really cool that we have the opportunity to represent Seattle on two different teams here at the Olympics.

What’s it like to play against a teammate like that?
It’s going to be a lot of fun to go up against her. Just seeing her success that she’s had, and the same with Sue and I, I think we are just really happy for one another. But when it’s game time, it’s all serious business.

Diana Taurasi
About entering the quarterfinals round:
This is the part of the tournament that you just get comfortable with each other and you gain momentum. Now we know every game could be your last one, so there is that feeling of angst and non-confidence going into these games.

What’s this trip to Rio been like for you?
Amazing! It really has. This group of players is just so unselfish, everything we do we do for each other. You don’t get around people like this very often and it goes from the coaching staff, to the equipment managers, some of the media people, it’s just been a great collective effort.

As you guys are gearing up and the gold is the focus, what would it mean to you to get another gold?
It’s so close and yet so far that I don’t even want to think about it. I’m not going to predetermine how I’m going to feel or what it’s going to mean to me, I’m just going to ride it out.

What’s it mean to be part of USA, every night put that USA jersey on, what’s that feeling been like for you?
If anything, I have as of late just thought back to when I started, and I started in 1999 with the 18-and-under team and went to Argentina and I just think back on all the players I played with back there. It’s been a long journey and I’ve been really lucky. I mean that’s the only way I can put it; I’ve been really lucky.

How are your fourth Olympics different than the others?
Honestly, I’ve really treated this on and it felt like my first one. I’ve come in like a little kid. Everyone keeps asking me ‘what advice have you given everyone?” Nothing, you have to enjoy it, you have to experience it yourself. I can maybe tell you how things are going to be as far as international play, and the different style of basketball, but other than that you’ve got to enjoy yourself and you’ve got to look at it through your eyes.

So each Olympics is a different one?
It definitely is. You know Sue (Bird) and I were talking about it the other day and this has been one of the most fun ones. This definitely is up there.

This post is part of the following threads: 2016 WNBA Season, Rio 2016 – ongoing stories on this site. View the thread timelines for more context on this post.


 

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