MANCHESTER (Reuters) - The U.S. women’s basketball team rallied from a 10-point deficit to record an emphatic 88-63 win over potential Olympic medalists Britain on Wednesday.
Coach Geno Auriemma credited the American team’s strength in depth for their emphatic response and gave a glimpse into the obstacles their opponents will face if they are to stop his country claiming a seventh gold medal in the past eight Games.
“If this was a soccer game and you were down 2-0 against the USA, you might come back and win 4-2,” said Auriemma, deliberately using a soccer analogy in a city famed for its football.
”You expect to win a soccer game against the USA because you think you are that much better, because of your history and tradition, the quality of players you have.
”It is the same with the women’s basketball team and the men’s basketball team in the United States. We have the kind of players, the kind of program, the kind of history behind us that gives us a kind of not only arrogance but it’s an expectation.
”We’re the United States and we’re expected to win and we expect to win. So if we get down 11, our players look at it as it is just a matter of time before we impose ourselves on the other team.
”A lot of this has to do with the depth we have. If we only had six or seven players, playing against six or seven players of Britain, maybe this would have been a very close game, maybe it would have been a loss.
“Because we can count on 11 or 12 players, and maybe the depth of Britain isn’t the same, that gives our players confidence. We are never in any sort of panic and that goes back to the talent, the history, the reputation of our program.”
Maya Moore, a first-time Olympian, top scored with 18 points and is clearly relishing the pressure of being part of a team who will start the Olympics in nine days as one of the strongest gold medal favorites in any sport.
“That’s probably the biggest blessing we have, that pressure,” she said. “That’s when we’re at our best, that’s when any competitor is at their best, when the stakes are high. We have that pressure to win, to compete, to play, to perform and the legacy and tradition we have as USA Basketball is awesome.”
Britain, under veteran Australian coach Tom Maher, have improved dramatically in recent years and a recent victory over France, as well as glimpses in their defeat against the United States, has led to talk that they could advance into the knock-out stages in London.
”I‘m just thrilled with the progress of the players,“ said Maher. ”Four years ago we were rubbish, now they can play a team like this and look respectable.
“We learned a lot when we played Australia, when we played France, and we can learn a lot from this. These are all first-time experiences for us and you can really see the learning curve.”
Editing by John Mehaffey