The US women wrapped up their exhibition tour in the “Greatest arena in the world” aka Madison Square Garden. Having not really been tested prior to their contest with Australia, many were looking forward to the tilt between the world’s top two teams according to FIBA.
The game didn’t disappoint early on, Australia got off to a quick start. A personal 5-point spurt from Maya Moore put the Americans on the board. The United States had to rally late in the first period, that run came courtesy of Elena Delle Donne and Angel McCoughtry.
EDD got involved by setting screens for Sue Bird, that put the defense in a bind and Elena took advantage of it over and over. She would finish with 17 at the half. Angel got on the glass and got on the wing in transition, she’s a terror to defend and she really put the Aussies on their heels. Their was one sequence in which Angel attacked two defenders and used a euro-step and finish through the contact.
Australia didn’t go away, they got a huge half from the diminutive Lelani Mitchell. The former WNBAer showed why she played in the league last season, as the one player that could break down American players off the dribble, she caused some issues. Played a huge role in her team’s run to close the half, tallying 16 in the first half.
Similar to the game in Delaware, the US started to separate from their opponents in the second half. The defense started to lock down, passing lanes were congested and the paint was sealed off.
A team with this much talent has the luxury of letting players take over in small stretches. Britteny Griner had the first of her stretches on the tour against Australia. She showed her improved offensive game, using good footwork and up-fakes to score on the larger Elizabeth Cambage. After the game, Britteny talked about what she hates most as a defender and used it against Cambage, movement. Griner also got involved on the defensive end, altering several shots and swatting a few others.
Australia has to take solace in the fact that they can play with the US, but they can’t miss open shots. That’s the issue with playing the Americans, can you outscore them and if you can get out to a lead, can you sustain that scoring to create separation? They come at you in waves, Delle Donne and McCoughtry came off the bench and led the team in scoring at the break.
Now, it’s time for Rio for all four teams on the USAB Showcase. The Road to Rio is complete, look forward to seeing how things play out.
EDD – She had maybe the best game of the tour in the Garden. Using her role as a screener to wreak havoc on the Australian defense, she also got involved on the defensive end with a couple of blocks. She also showed her proficiency in the post, using a series of spin moves and step-backs to score in the paint. She is going to be one of the biggest mismatches for teams in Rio, can play with any big on the team and has the size of one as well.
Angel– McCoughtry like Delle Donne, came off the bench and changed the game. Getting in the passing lanes, flourishing in transition, and hitting the glass. She’s been great on the tour, making an impact on the game no matter how many minutes she’s played. Her and Maya Moore have done a great job of hitting the glass as wings and pushing it in transition.
Griner – The Mercury center had her breakout game on the tour. Scoring 15 points as a reserve, the best part was she was looking for her shot and her teammates were looking for her. That gives the US team a different dimension, her and Sylvia Fowles are very good defenders, but when they can get it on the block and score it changes things. Defenders now have to choose to help down or let them go 1-on-1. Griner scored the majority of those points on the block in one-on-one situations. A great confidence boost for her as the team heads to Rio.
DT – Not much to say other than her competitive fire was on display yet again. She scored 15 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter, setting the tone for the half and sparking the deciding run. That five minutes was vintage Taurasi, a reminder that she can still get it done with the best of them.
Aussie Duo. There were positives for Australia, Mitchell and Cambage had great outings. Those two will have to play an even bigger role if Australia wishes to take down the top team in the world in Rio. Cambage had 22 points and 8 rebounds, Mitchell played a great floor game with 18 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals.