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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Augustus, Taurasi lead U.S. past Turkey

Former UConn star Diana Taurasi had 14 points in a hard-earned 80-61 win over Turkey
in the U.S. Olympic team's final exhibition game before the start of the Olympics.
(Photo courtesy of USA Basketball)
In what was easily the most competitive of the United States Olympic team's five pre-Olympic international friendlies, the U.S. was pushed by host Turkey for three quarters before pulling away for an 80-61 victory in the final exhibition game before the start of the Olympics.

Seimone Augustus led the U.S. with 16 points, former UConn star Diana Taurasi had 14 while Sylvia Fowles added 12 points and Candace Parker finished with eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds. The other five former UConn stars on the U.S. team combined for just 17 points although Sue Bird and Maya Moore did combined for 10 of the 20 assists for the U.S.

The U.S. will remain in Turkey and practice on Monday and Tuesday before heading to London. The U.S. will open against Croatia on Saturday. The U.S. beat three of the five teams in its Olympic pool during the pre-Olympic preparation.

Here are some quotes from Geno Auriemma and Diana Taurasi

Geno Auriemma
On the game:
I think it’s better for us than last night for sure. We had to make plays. We had to get stops, and they are a really, really good team. They have a lot of weapons, they have a lot of ways they can beat you and they are really smart. We gave them a lot of life. We missed a lot of opportunities that would have made it much easier for us, but maybe in the long run that’s better too. It’s easy to win when you shoot (78.0) percent like we did last night. It’s another thing when you shoot 35.0 percent in the first half and are able to beat a really good team by 19. So yeah, it showed some of our flaws and our warts, like everybody else has, and we’ve got four more practices to fix it and then we are on the big stage.

On the USA’s shooting:
I think when teams don’t shoot the ball very well, you do have to make a decision. Is it good shooters getting wide-open shots that don’t go in, or are they contested shots, or are they wrong players taking the wrong shots? So, I betcha there was a whole bunch of that – all three of those things. We missed some wide-open layups inside. We missed some open shots that we’ve been making, and Turkey is a really good defensive team. They put some pressure on you, and it took us a while. But once we got that little bit of a spurt, when the shots start going in, then it changes the whole complexion of the game. So, it wasn’t just we shot the ball poorly, I think they contributed to that a little bit as well.

On Seimone Augustus:
That’s why you have somebody like that. You bring her in the game because you know offensively; she’s got it going every night. Some players they know what they are good at. They know what their specialty is, and everybody on the team knows, if we go to her, something good is going to happen and she didn’t disappoint, which she rarely does. So, I was happy for her because going into the Olympics, she’s going to be that designated hitter. You are going to bring her off the bench, and you are going to get instant offense from her. So, this is a good send-off for her.

On the six players who have played in Turkey for either Fenerbache or Galatasaray:
Basketball in Europe is kind of like basketball in the United States. There are pockets where it’s great, and there are places where it is ok. This is one of those places where people are rabid about women’s basketball, and they have a right to be. They have two great teams with a tremendous amount of talent that has played her over the years, and they are knowledgeable group of fans as well.

When all of that is said and done, all of that goes out the window when your country is playing. I don’t care how much you hate Fenerbache, it doesn’t matter, when you are (cheering) for your country, you hate the guys they are playing against, so this was Turkey versus the U.S., and I would venture to say that a lot of the people there that love Diana, loved her before the game and loved her after the game and during the game they booed her every time she touched the ball, so it was perfect.

On the fourth quarter as the USA pulled away:
I think the second group that came in at the end of the third quarter, because they play so fast and have so much energy, they really take the legs away from some of the other teams that we play against, and tonight was another example of that. We were able to wear them down. There is not as much of a drop off when we sub as there is on some other teams. The depth that the United States has is one of our biggest strengths, and tonight was a perfect example of that.

On the USA – Turkey rematch in the preliminary round of the Olympics:
The Olympics bring out either the best or the worst in people, and so when we go up there, some people that didn’t play well tonight are going to play great, some people that played well are going to struggle. The pressures of the Olympics get to you one way or another, but I would think we know them; they know us. There aren’t going to be a lot of secrets when we play them. They learned a little bit about us; we learned a little bit about them. They are a good team, and I’m looking forward to playing them again.

Diana Taurasi
On the game:
I think we did some really good things. Obviously, this was a lot tougher team, and that’s what we are going to face in the Olympics, so I think it was a good test for us.

Whenever a team comes out and does a good job and plays well and challenges you, it really shows what kind of resolve we have.

On the USA’s shooting:
I think we got good shots. One night you shoot 70.0 percent, another night you shoot 30 – that’s basketball. You have to find a way to win, and we did that.

On the USA’s depth:
Whenever you have one-through-12 that can go in there and change the game in different ways, I think it gives coach some confidence and it gives everyone a sense of picking each other up.

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