2007-08 USA Senior National Team Assistant Coaches to Remain in Place -- Additional Quotes

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February 8, 2007 • Colorado Springs, Colorado

Gail Goestenkors
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 that tournament?
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 the Olympics.

Dawn Staley
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 different.

Mike Thibault
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'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.

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