McCoughtry, de Souza Open Olympic Play

ATLANTA, July 28, 2012 —Three Olympians from the Atlanta Dream roster, including two players and a coach, opened play at the 2012 London Olympics Saturday, as Angel McCoughtry helped Team USA beat Croatia, 81-56, while Erika de Souza and Brazil fell to France, 73-58.

McCoughtry was one of four members of the American squad to score in double figures, totaling 13 points in just 11 minutes off the bench. She made five of her six shots and three of four free throws for Team USA, whose coaching staff includes Dream head coach Marynell Meadors. McCoughtry also had a team-high three steals, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot during the victory.

Meanwhile, de Souza scored a team-high 17 points for Brazil, but it was not enough. She made six-of-12 field goals and five-of-six from the free throw line, and added four boards, a steal and a block.

Both teams return to action Friday, with the United States playing Angola (0-1) and Brazil playing Russia (1-0).

Angel McCoughtry quotes, courtesy of USA Basketball
On tonight’s game:
Croatia was playing very well. We had to get better with our defense in stopping them hitting the threes. It was a very close game, of course, but I don’t want to look at it like ‘oh my gosh! They’re so close.’ They’re a good team. Everybody here is a good team or they wouldn’t be in the Olympics. You have to play and get better. We know that we have to come out to a better start in these games.

Was it physical at the end?
Our team’s not going to look at this film and say, ‘okay, let’s play them really hard. Let’s give them a really physical push.’ But I think if we continue to be physical back at teams, we’ll be okay

You had 13 points off the bench, what is your mindset coming in off the bench?
Honestly, in my head I’m just hungry. When I get out there, whether it’s 5 minutes, 230 minutes, I’m going to give it all I can. Of course we’re all use to playing a lot of minutes with our teams, we’re all used to all doing what we do best, but this is a different situation so whatever opportunity to get you can not take it for granted, you just have to be hungry out there. I really just enjoyed my first Olympic game, it was a lot of fun.

What about the mindset of the team in the locker room after this game? You guys got a convincing win but it probably didn’t go exactly how you drew it up. What was the discussion afterwards?
The thing about it we even said at halftime we’re not going to blow teams out from the gate. Everybody kind of expects us to just blow teams out, we have to get better each game; teams are going to come physical; they want us and that’s normal. After the game we said ‘hey, it was ugly at first but we came in and adjusted and we just have to continue to try and build on this, we’ve got to try to come out stronger and try to put teams away like we know we can.

That second unit, I know everybody takes pride in the opportunities they have out on the floor, they were a real spark especially in the third and fourth quarters; what is it about that second unit that was able to get it done today?
The thing about it is we always say when the first group goes in we huddle and we say ‘let’s bring the energy, let’s go.’ That’s the thing we don’t want to feel like we’re a let down coming in, we always want to feel like we’re bringing a spark, we’re helping the game level actually increase when we come in. So it’s like we’re a team that won’t loose anything when we sub.