USA Women Prep For China Showdown
LONDON -- Maya Moore understands her role on the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team perfectly — wreak havoc.
Moore has done just that in helping the Americans win their first four games by an average of nearly 35 points.
"When I get in the game, I just want to cause chaos for the other team as well as I can," Moore said. "I feel like I've got some athletic ability and some long arms, quick hands so I might as well use them for good.
"I try to get in the passing lane, get a tip-in, get a steal and hopefully it will cause some momentum for my team."
She is looking to continue being disruptive when the U.S. faces China on Sunday in the final game of pool play. A victory would be the Americans' 38th-straight in Olympic play and would give them the top seed in the group for the quarterfinals.
"Every game from here on out is a must win game for us to accomplish our goals," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said.
The 23-year-old Moore came off the bench for the first few games before starting against the Czech Republic. She's averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, yet her impact can't be measured by a stat sheet.
"She is just a high energy player. She plays every possession to the end and not everybody does that," said Auriemma, who also coached Moore in college at Connecticut. "So for Maya every defensive possession is an opportunity to get a steal. Every shot is an opportunity to get a rebound. It's just her makeup. It's who she is."
Auriemma said Moore works "incredibly hard. As hard as any player I have ever seen at any level ever."
Moore has been on personal championship run.
She helped the Minnesota Lynx win their first WNBA title last fall and followed it up with Euro League and Spanish League championships this winter as part of Ros Casares.
Now she hopes to cap it off with an Olympic gold medal.
Winning it all in London will make Moore part of an exclusive club — she would be just the seventh women's basketball player to win titles in college, the WNBA, the FIBA world championship and the Olympics.
She's been a winner at level she has played, putting up staggering numbers. Since entering high school, she has a 326-16 mark. That doesn't include her perfect 26-0 record while playing for USA basketball.
To keep that U.S. streak alive, the Americans will have to beat China, which won its first three games in the Olympics before getting routed by Turkey on Friday. A victory over the U.S. could give China the top spot in the quarterfinals.
"The U.S. is a very tough team and we will do what we can against them," China coach Sun Fengwu said through a translator. "We will try some special things against them."
China followed up a fourth place finish at the Beijing Games with a disappointing 13th at the world championship in 2010.
The two teams played an exhibition game in Seattle in May and the U.S. coasted to an easy 38-point victory. The Chinese team was playing without Miao Lijie and Chen Nan. They've improved since then, playing 15 exhibitions games around the world to try and improve.
"They will be a very different team than we saw in May since they were missing their best players," U.S. point guard Sue Bird said. "We've gotten a lot better also."
The U.S. hopes to have center Sylvia Fowles back when they play China. She has missed the last three games to rest a sore left foot. Fowles warmed up before Friday night's win over the Czech Republic, but never entered the game.
"I was available," Fowles said. "It was funny every time coach Auriemma would walk down to my end of the bench my eyes got all big as I thought he was going to put me in. Then he would shake his head no and walk back the other way."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press