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Dolson: U.S. Responds Well To Pressure

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.

Canada came out ready to play today, put a lot of pressure on us, and our shots weren’t falling as much as they have been throughout the tournament, but overall I thought the team looked pretty solid. We handled the pressure well, got the defense going, which in turn got the offense going, and we finished the game off well.

Last time the U.S. faced Canada, the girls beat them by 40, and you just knew it wasn’t going to be quite as easy this time around. Both teams have great coaches, and after you play a team once you learn a lot about them. Canada certainly did that, and they changed a few things.

They were really pressuring us all day, making catches hard, and rebounding the ball really well. All of that pressure got the offense out of sync and forced a lot of rushed shots. Canada also tried to slow the game down and turn it into a halfcourt affair, which isn’t the way we like to play. We’re big and athletic and quick, and we like to get out and run, but Canada did a good job dictating the pace, and that played a big role in mucking up our offense. It was still great to see the girls be able to respond to the challenge and pull it out, however.

Even if it wasn’t the best offensive game, the defense was on point. {Ed. note: 51 points Canada scored were the fewest points allowed by the U.S. in Rio.} That’s because Geno always prioritizes defense, but even moreso when the team is struggling a bit like they were in the first quarter. He knows how talented the offense is on this team, and shots will begin to fall eventually. So he just focuses on defense. Get stops, get steals, get deflections, and the moment you focus on that, it will kickstart your offense.

Even though they struggled a bit early on, it was great to see the girls haven’t lost focus, and a lot of the credit for that goes to Geno. Whether they played for him at UConn, or are playing for him for the first time, the girls learn pretty quick not to take any moment, any team for granted. You have to play as hard as you can at every moment. Don’t worry about how much you’re beating a team by, or what the next game is, just stay in the moment and focus on what’s in front of you. I thought the girls did a good job of that today.

Lastly, I’ve been really impressed with how Stewie has been playing this week. I don’t think there’s anyone that has come in and done what she’s done at such a young age and so early in her career. She has so much confidence in her game, but at the same time she’s humble, she’s a great teammate. But when she steps out on the court, she realizes how good she is, and that’s why she’s been playing so efficiently. She knows what are good shots for her, she knows how to get them, and she knows how to knock them down. I’m just proud of how well she’s playing and how far she’s come since freshman year at UConn.

Previous Analysis From Dolson

August 7: USA vs. Senegal 

August 8: USA vs. Spain

August 10: USA vs. Serbia