Former University of Louisville star Angel McCoughtry made the most of her first Olympic game, coming off the bench to turn up the defensive pressure and spark a 16-0 second-half run that broke open an 81-56 victory over Croatia in the USA's 2012 London Olympics opener.
Afterward, as far as compliments go, they don't come much higher than this one coach Geno Auriemma gave McCoughtry: "She's one of the quickest players in the world."
Auriemma's full comments on McCoughtry, after she finished with 13 points in an 81-56 win.
"One thing we talked about before the tournament started, whatever your role is, whatever you're really good at, you need to be great at that for our team and Angel's a fantastic defender especially off the ball. So she makes things happen. That second team we had out there was able to not only give us energy which they did but I think they made it difficult (for Croatia). I think what that second team did made it possible for when that first group came back, I think they had worn down the Croatian team a little bit. Angel was a big, big part of that. She's one of the quickest players in the world. When she's going to the basket or she's on defense in the passing lanes, there aren't very many people better than her."
Here are some thoughts from McCoughtry, provided by USA Basketball:
On the game: Croatia was playing very well. We had to get better with our defense in stopping them hitting the threes. It was a very close game, of course, but I don't want to look at it like ‘Oh my gosh! They're so close.' They're a good team. Everybody here is a good team or they wouldn't be in the Olympics. You have to play and get better. We know that we have to come out to a better start in these games.
Was it physical at the end? Our team's not going to look at this film and say, ‘Okay, let's play them really hard. Let's give them a really physical push.' But I think if we continue to be physical back at teams, we'll be okay.
You had 13 points off the bench, what is your mindset coming in off the bench? Honestly, in my head I'm just hungry. When I get out there, whether it's 5 minutes, 230 minutes, I'm going to give it all I can. Of course we're all used to playing a lot of minutes with our teams, we're all used to all doing what we do best, but this is a different situation so whatever opportunity to get you can not take it for granted, you just have to be hungry out there. I really just enjoyed my first Olympic game, it was a lot of fun.
What about the mindset of the team in the locker room after this game? You guys got a convincing win but it probably didn't go exactly how you drew it up. What was the discussion after the game? The thing about it we even said at halftime, we're not going to blow teams out from the gate. Everybody kind of expects us to just blow teams out. We have to get better each game; teams are going to come physical, they want us and that's normal. After the game we said, ‘Hey, it was ugly at first but we came in and adjusted and we just have to continue to try and build on this, we've got to try to come out stronger and try to put teams away like we know we can.'
That second unit, I know everybody takes pride in the opportunities they have out on the floor, they were a real spark especially in the third and fourth quarters; what is it about that second unit that was able to get it done today? The thing about it is we always say when the first group goes in we huddle and we say, ‘Let's bring the energy, let's go.' That's the thing we don't want to feel like -- like we're a letdown coming in. We always want to feel like we're bringing a spark, we're helping the game level actually increase when we come in. So it's like we're a team that won't lose anything when we sub.