OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Even with the staggering numbers the U.S. put up in the first round, coach Geno Auriemma sees a lot of room for improvement.
That's a scary thought for the U.S. women's basketball team's second round opponent.
"Watching us the first three games, when our offense is moving, we're very good. When we're standing around, it's not so good," Auriemma said. "We've only had one practice together before they played, tomorrow will be our second. Hopefully we'll fix some of those things."
Even when the offense wasn't clicking the defense carried them. The U.S. had only three points in the first 8 minutes against France, before pulling away for an 81-60 victory on Saturday in the women's basketball world championships.
The competition will get a bit tougher in the second round as the Americans will have to play Canada, Belarus, and Australia — the defending world champion.
"Coach always tells us that it's about us and what we do," point guard Sue Bird said. "We need to get better."
Up first are the Canadians on Monday, who lost to Belarus on Saturday.
"Obviously we know who were up against," Canada coach Allison McNeill said. "Our players see them play and we look at it as a challenge. To see where we stack up against them. We don't play the U.S. very often."
Sunday provides a much needed off day for the teams, who have played three straight games.
"The difficult thing about this tournament is you play three games and your team's tired, and then you have to practice," Auriemma said. "So how much can you practice, knowing that you have three more games? It's difficult to improve a lot during the tournament. You have to hope your team is ready to play when they get here."
Unlike the first two contests that saw them cruise on offense, the Americans looked out of synch against France and didn't really get rolling until the second half.
"We were trying to do too much early," U.S. forward Tamika Catchings said. "We were making the extra pass or being too stagnant on offense. We did a really good job talking defensively that kept us in the game early."
Candice Dupree and Tina Charles each added 10 points for the Americans (3-0). Dupree is shooting a sizzling 84 percent from the field over the first three games.
"She really is amazing," Catchings said. "You look at her face and she's emotionless. She scores and has the same expression."
France (2-1) had looked impressive in its first two wins, routing Senegal and beating rival Greece. Facing the Americans was a much different challenge for the 2009 European champions. The French, who are playing without injured star Sandrine Gruda, have only beaten the U.S. once in the worlds — in 1971.
"We have a really young team," French coach Pierre Vincent said. "You don't have a chance all the time to play the United States. When you get the chance you want to play with your whole team."
France will open up against Belarus in the second round. The reiginig European champions were led by Endine Miyem, who scored 15 points.