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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bird returns in U.S. win over Croatia

Former UConn star Sue Bird brings the ball up the
court in Saturday's 109-55 victory over Croatia.
(photo courtesy of USA Basketball)
The day after the funeral of her stepfather former UConn star Sue Bird was back with the U.S. Olympic team and in action for an exhibition game against Croatia in Istanbul, Turkey.

Bird had eight points, four rebounds and a team-high five assists in a dominating 109-55 win. Bird talked about the death of Dennis Burden following the game. Here's a link to Doug Feinberg's Associated Press story on Bird's return and emotional week

Sylvia Fowles led the U.S. with 15 points (on 6 of 6 shooting). Candace Parker (14 points, 6 rebounds), Seimone Augustus (12 points) and former Husky Tina Charles (11 points) also scored in double figures. As for the other former UConn players Diana Taurasi had nine points and four assists, Swin Cash scored eight points, Asjha Jones had six points and Maya Moore had four points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Here are some quotes from Geno Auriemma, Bird and Taurasi courtesy of the USA Basketball site

Geno Auriemma
On tonight’s game: 
It’s a little odd, for us and for them I’m sure, to know we are playing them a week from today, so we wanted to make sure we found out a little bit about them and more importantly, kind of start getting into some kind of flow ourselves. Having Sue back really helps an awful lot. It’s fun to watch us when our defense is generating all of our offense for us like it did that first 10 minutes. You score as many points as we did that first quarter, that’s a great sign for us because we have 12 scorers on our team. So, as long as the ball is moving, as long as everybody is on the same page and our defense is the catalyst, we’re obviously capable of being a really, really good team just like we were tonight.

With a big lead throughout, were you able to accomplish some things?
Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. I thought in this instance we tried not to get too complicated. We stuck with just two or three things, and I thought because we didn’t try to do 15 things, the two or three that we were working on, there’s a little more familiarity now. Players were talking on the bench about how we are starting to get into a rhythm because players are starting to understand where to go next, what to do, who likes the ball where and when. So in that respect, regardless of the lead, we managed to make some players feel more comfortable on the floor, and that’s good.

Sue Bird
On returning to the team after returning home following the death of her stepfather figure:
In a way, this is kind of my normal routine, being with a team, being around these guys. It feels real good to get back to that. It was obviously also really good to be home with my family and my mom last week.

Diana Taurasi
On tonight’s game:
I hope we got a little bit better today. The last couple of days we’ve been working on some things, trying to get a little bit more organized on both sides and I think it showed a little bit today.
On the USA’s 70.8 shooting in the first quarter:
That’s a product of getting really good looks and people sharing the ball. Obviously you still have to make it, but if you get good shots, you can live with them. Today that’s what happened.
Have you been working on defense a lot?
I think it’s one of our strengths. We have so many athletic, energetic players and that’s something coach wants us to do, get after it a little bit, put a lot of pressure on them and then turn that to offense.
You played two seasons in Istanbul, including last season on this court. What was it like stepping back onto your home court?It was great. The fans here were great. Tomorrow night when we play Turkey, it’ll be a great scene for basketball. The people here love basketball. They love us.
How happy are you for your Turkey teammates that they qualified for the Olympics?
I’m excited for them. They’ve worked really hard. We’ve played against them in the EuroLeague for a long time You can just see their development every year, getting better, getting more competitive. For them to make the Olympics is a big deal. I think they’re going to go into the Olympics and make some stuff happen.

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