clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Defense is Team USA's secret weapon

The United States is loaded offensively, but it was their defense that shined in their third exhibition game as they prepare to head to Rio for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Canada seemingly had no answers for the non-stop pressure the United States applied throughout.

Chris Poss - Swish Appeal

Bridgeport, CT -- Team's USA third exhibition game looked a lot more like how they will have to play when they begin actual Olympic competition in Rio in a little over a week. They stopped in Connecticut Friday night and showed how good they are in their 83-43 win.

The offense for this team will inevitably show up in any given 40-minute game, due to the extreme amount of talent present throughout the roster. A team full of electrifying scorers, who also have made a commitment on the defensive end, was on full display for an entire game.

"I think the fact that they are such great offensive players, and they want to play defense I think that's a unique combination," United States coach Geno Auriemma said. "When you have that many good players, it's just a matter of getting them committed to the defensive end, and they are.

"You have to be because the teams that we're playing against are good offensively."

The U.S. got after it all over the court from very early on against Canada, forcing 20 turnovers and holding Canada to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor. Numerous times the shot clock expired as a direct result of the pressure the United States was applying.

"The United States just does so many things defensively with their length and athleticism that really changes how you want to play the game," Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "It was evident for us that we really struggled on the offensive end and with ball movement. We're going to learn and get better from this experience."

Auriemma started the game with a lineup loaded with former UConn players, but it was another player who still plays for Auriemma and the Huskies who was on the other end of the United States' suffocating defense.

"Obviously, they get up and apply pressure everywhere on the floor," Canada guard Kia Nurse said. "They did a couple different things between trapping, and trapping in a time when you don't expect it. So defensively they get after it and you know they switch well.

"They have a good lineups that are able to do that, and it presents a difficulty for offenses."

Two of the four quarters, the United States held Canada to six points or less, completing disrupting Canada's offense, and then using that chaos to get an easy two points in the other direction. The United States scored 19 points in transition.

"I think the difference defensively was just the fact that we kind of were all over place," United States center Breanna Stewart said. "We wanted to put a lot of pressure on Canada (with) the full court press. It made them have to speed themselves up, and that's not their game."

The amount of pressure the United States defense put on Canada Friday night will be nothing compared to the amount of pressure on this team to win the gold when they get to Rio. Continuing to pressure their opponents with their length and athleticism is mightily important for this team, and it seems they have a roster of players willing to put in the effort necessary to succeed.