February 8, 2007 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Looking at the next couple of years,
what do you see as the biggest challenge for the team?
I think the rest of the world has gained confidence so we're going
to have to be at the top of our game. We're beginning to see new leaders
emerge. Last year was a little difficult for us with the changing of the
guard without Dawn (Staley) playing, Lisa (Leslie) wasn't there, Sheryl
(Swoopes) was injured and Yolanda Griffith wasn't there. Those are veteran
players who have been through the toughest of times and they knew what
it took to win gold medals. And now we're developing a new personality,
it's really a new era.
Looking towards the FIBA Americas Championship,
in order to qualify for the Olympics this year the U.S. must win that
tournament. While there will be many competitive teams there, Brazil,
which the USA defeated 99-59 in the bronze medal contest, will most likely
be the toughest team to beat. How hard do you think it will be to win
In the bronze medal game Brazil was playing without their center
(6-6 Alessandra Santos de Oliveira), who was injured, so we can't get
any false confidence by the margin of victory in that game. They're a
tough team to beat and always come ready to play with so much passion.
However, I have no doubt that we'll be ready to play. We are extremely
determined to win the gold medal and bring home that automatic berth to
What are your thoughts on working with the
USA Senior National Team and this staff through 2008?
It's a pretty good fit. We have the spectrum of calm, poised and
hyper, and the expertise of basketball at the highest level. We have it
all, we have everything covered. We get along well, we work great together,
everybody is respectful of everyone else's opinion. When you have a cohesive
group like that, it trickles down to the players and ensures that it's
reciprocated from the coaches to the players and players back to the coaches.
How much pressure will there be this summer
in Chile for the U.S. to win the gold and earn the automatic Olympic berth?
Anytime you don't win the World Championship gold medal to go to
the Olympics, there's pressure on you no matter what country you're representing.
Right now we're not feeling very good about ourselves because we fell
short of our goal. But our players, the coaching staff's going to come
back and try to work hard to make sure we can lock up that berth, our
participation in the 2008 Olympics. Of course there's pressure, there's
always pressure when you put on the USA uniform and this won't be any
How much pressure will there be
this summer in Chile for the U.S. to win the gold and earn the automatic
Anytime you're in a tournament where you have to win to avoid another
process, everybody's playing with a sense of purpose and a sense of desperation.
I'm going to assume that we're going to get everybody's best effort. Brazil,
when everybody's healthy, is capable of competing with all the top teams
in the world. We might have caught them on the right day, but I think
we were very good that day too. The match-ups, the things that we were
really prepared for, how to play them and obviously we got an unbelievable
game out of Diana (Taurasi) that day. But I feel that when we play the
way we're capable of playing, everyone else has to worry about playing
against us and our job as coaches is to make sure we're prepared to play
at that same level that we played at that day (against Brazil in the 2006
World Championship bronze medal game).
Looking at the next couple of years, what
do you see as the biggest challenge for the team?
I think the biggest challenges come from within first. It's imperative
that we as coaches, along with the committee, find the right combination
of players to fill the different roles that need to be filled. We're headed
toward a process where we're not just trying to throw together an all-star
team and go play. We want to put together a team that fits together, that
has balance, with players who can play multiple positions, players who
can fill defensive and offensive needs. I think that's the biggest challenge,
to make sure that we come up with a group that fits all those requirements.
It's not about taking the 12 best players, it's taking the 12 best players
that fit together and create the best team. That's one of the biggest
responsibilities that we have over the next 18 months or so.