Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson will provide her take on the women’s basketball action in Rio. The 2015 All-Star can offer a unique perspective after participating in the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team Minicamp and having played for U.S head coach Geno Auriemma at UConn.
First off, this was a really fun game, and definitely one of the more competitive ones. Japan was aggressive, quick to get the ball out, and running non-stop. I think the U.S. did a great job of bailing themselves out in that first half when they went on that 8-0 and finally got their rhythm going. From there they started moving the ball more, playing better defense, and stopping Japan’s breaks. Once they slowed Japan down, everything came together for the U.S.
Japan played a great game, though. They were making big shots, they were aggressive defensively, and they played a very fast pace. Even on made shots they would get the ball out quickly, and it lead to a few layups because we weren’t paying attention. They just did a really great job of making it difficult on the U.S.
This was definitely a game the U.S. needed. You can always learn different things from different games, and in this case I think the U.S. learned that you can’t relax, no matter who the opponent is. The U.S. realizes now that they have to come out with pressure and a chip on their shoulder from the very beginning. Every country is going to give the U.S. their best shot, and Japan certainly did that tonight. They played with a lot of confidence, but it was impressive to see the U.S. withstand the pressure.
Once again, Diana Taurasi was incredible, and Maya Moore as well. They have different styles, but they’re both such great leaders. Diana is more outspoken, and she’ll probably demand the ball, whereas Maya is going to cut as hard as she can and try to put herself in the best position possible. And both of them do a great job recognizing when the team isn’t clicking and they need to step up and make a play. They’ve done it their whole careers, and the other girls recognize that, and they follow suit.
Over the first six games this year, the U.S. have proven how good they are. They level they’re playing at is head and shoulders above the rest, and as long as they play with confidence, they’ll be perfectly fine heading forward.
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