Additional Quotes >> Catchings, Lawson, Milton-Jones Added To USA Basketball Team
July 10, 2008 / 3:00 p.m. ET
Anne Donovan, 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for Women's Basketball Head Coach
It is an exciting day. It's the culmination that pouts our team together and all of the pieces to the puzzle now fit. It's been a challenging task for the committee to evaluate all of our players from this tremendously talented pool. This 12-member team is truly an outstanding group; they couldn't have done a better job. I am really thrilled to have these three players added. Tamika Catchings has really had a long road back since her Achilles tendon injury. We've been waiting, watching, hoping and praying and checking with Tamika and her doctors all throughout this process to make sure she came along at the right tempo, but we always knew she would be working hard to recover. And she has. She's done everything she could have done and then some, so I'm very happy that we can now officially put her on that team with complete confidence that she's ready to go.
And it's interesting, for DeLisha Milton-Jones, this is the second Olympic team that people talk about, but you need to go back and remember that DeLisha made our Olympic team in 2004 and had an injury that kept her from going to Athens with us. As you all can imagine it is extremely disappointing for any athlete to prepare at the highest level, to set those expectations for herself and then not be able to get to the international stage that the Olympics provides. I know that was extremely disappointing for DeLisha and that she has worked very hard to completely come back; you never would have known that she had an injury. She is really going to help us in our post game and her versatility is going to help us on the perimeter too. So I am really excited to have DeLisha back and with us again.
And then last, but certainly not least, is Kara Lawson, who has been such a valuable piece in the last two years our National Team has trained. Katie Smith and Kara are the two that have been there every training session, and Kara even came back from her honeymoon early so she could join us in China and train with us. I can't speak enough to the dedication of Kara Lawson and her commitment to this program, not just the last two years but going way back with our junior program. She is the classic example of when you stick with it and really have a goal and you fight like a dog to accomplish it, good things happen to good people and Kara is certainly one of those.
I'm thrilled. Theses three pieces of our puzzle make us strong and very confident about getting a gold medal.
On Kara Lawson's selection and what she hopes Kara will bring to the team:
I can't speak enough about Kara's leadership, her enthusiasm and her energy and the positivity that oozes from Kara, which is contagious for everyone on the team. These sort of intangibles are clearly there and these are the kind of traits we need to have from our Olympians. To have a player like Kara who can really affect others and draw people in is a really neat thing to watch. As I watched our video tapes of the last couple years of training and tournaments I found that I was always drawn to Kara and how much energy she provides to other people who are either playing well or who may be struggling. And then there are all of the tangibles, including her versatility as a shooting guard, backup guard and her basketball IQ. She is a complete extension of me on the floor as a coach.
What is your sense of knowledge on how much time other teams like Russia, Australia and Brazil have had to practice together as a team? Given the fact that you will not have much time, how do you plan to prepare your team for Beijing?
We know that these teams have been playing together and preparing for quite some time. We have confidence in the process we have taken to train and prepare our players in the past few years because we were trying to put together a bunch of different parts. Now that we have the last pieces to the puzzle we are ready to put those parts together into a complete whole - a group of highly motivated women that understand exactly what is at stake. We will not walk into Beijing expecting to pick up a gold medal. We know we will have to play well, play hard and be focused from the first game through the last game. Our entire focus is on Beijing. We have a great mix of old and young, experienced and inexperienced, and there is not one player who doesn't know what it will take. We will have to rely on our team chemistry, and most importantly are defensive chemistry because we will have to look to that to win the gold.
Renee Brown, USA Basketball Women's National Team Committee Chair
I would like to thank everyone for joining us today. It's another great day for USA Basketball. It's an honor to make this announcement on behalf of the USA Basketball Senior National Team Committee and name the remaining three players of the 2008 Olympic team; and those players are Tamika Catchings, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Kara Lawson. From a committee stand point we really feel the final three players that we named will really help us in our quest to win a gold medal. Thank you for joining us.
How important is the commitment to the program regarding some of the players who didn't make the team because they couldn't make it to camps or trials?
I think overall there was a pool of 29 to 30 players that the committee had an opportunity to evaluate. We had a commitment from each of those players. Some players were able to do more than others, but at the end of the day when the committee got together to decide who the Olympic team would be, they went with the 12 players who they believe will come back with a gold medal. A number of factors went into selecting the team, including the last three members who we named today - veteran leadership, skill set, the fact that they've played together, the fact that they've had the opportunity to work with their head coach and her coaching squad - all of those things contributed to naming these 12. And on behalf of the committee I know that we are very happy and confident in these 12 women that we have chosen for the Olympic team.
Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
On her drive to rehab and recover from her injury:
I think it is obviously a great opportunity to play with the Olympic team again. It's like starting with a new phase. It started with the Dawn, Lisa and Sheryl phase and now it's moving into the next generation and I definitely wanted to be a part of that. Over the past 10 months, rehab hasn't been easy, but I can say that the support that I've received from my teammates, my organization here, everyone with USA Basketball, all of the fans and all of the media support has definitely pushed me and motivated me to get ready for this opportunity. I'm excited to get back out on the court and be here with FIBA and all of my teammates, and I'm even more excited about making this Olympic team and going out there and playing for another gold medal.
What got you through your rehab?
My faith and the support system that has been around me consistently has played a huge role in my recovery. Also, I recalled when I came into the league and tore my ACL during my first year and the struggle I had to go through then. For me, this was the second time around. Also, just knowing that so many people were watching to see how I would come back from this and knowing I had the opportunity to speak to a lot of kids who have gone through the same injury or who are going through the same injury and that they're looking at me as a hero or a role model to see how I would handle the situation is definitely something that pushed me through. Also, knowing that I had the opportunity to make the Olympic Team is a dream come true. I had the opportunity to play in 2004, but I think this time around is a new phase for USA Basketball. These are the up-and-coming players who will play in 2008, 2012 and 2016, and to be a part of the new class of the Olympic team was something that definitely motivated me to get to this point.
Kara Lawson, Sacramento Monarchs
On her initial reaction to receiving word that she had made the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team:
When I first found out that I had made the team I screamed into the phone pretty loud and then I started crying. I'm very excited. I think my smile muscles are sore because I can't stop smiling. To me, this is the highest honor you can achieve as a basketball player, to represent your county. I'm thrilled that the committee chose me and I'm excited to start working with this team. I can't wait to get out there in practice and then to get over to China and work to defend a gold medal.
If you could give a scouting report on this team, what would it say?
I don't think this team really has any weaknesses. We have a great interior presence with our post players. I fell we have great balance and great athleticism. I know we want to get up and down the floor and run and I think we are a team that can really get after people defensively with our depth and with our smarts. It's a complete package. The biggest thing is, we're motivated to take care of our job and our job is to bring home a gold medal. I feel like we are in the right mental state to come together and be able to accomplish that.
On returning early from her honeymoon to join the USA National Team for the Good Luck Beijing Tournament:
I was married on April 12 (2008) and then on April 13 my husband, Damion, and I went to Cabo, Mexico. We came back that Friday and by Saturday morning I was on a plane to Beijing to meet the team. Damion is very supportive. He knows this has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and he wanted me to do everything possible to give myself the best opportunity to make the team and fulfill my dream. He is going to join me in Beijing for the Olympics and he is pretty excited.
DeLisha Milton-Jones, Los Angeles Sparks
On making the team after her injury forced her to withdraw from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games:
When I received the ACL injury in 2004 that set me back I remember sitting on my couch, cheering so hard for everyone in the wee hours of the morning while they were over in Greece and at the same time crying my eyes out because my heart was just totally broken in half, knowing that I was on that team but that I was not there. But the women did what they were supposed to do; they won. The road back since then has been tough, but I thank God that I was able to persevere through everything and be able to be named to this team. When received my call, I shared the same emotions as Kara: I was looking at my husband bug-eyed for a minute and then the tears started rolling in. I pulled the car over to the side and I started thanking God for the opportunity because my husband and I both know the amount of work I've put into changing my game and my effort to come back better than I was before I received the injury. It's a very happy day for me because if I wasn't able to make this team, the last memory I would have with the Olympic Team is being hurt and then losing in the World Championships against Brazil, so I think this is a redeeming moment for myself where I can come out and give the team everything that I possibly have in order for us to be successful.
What motivated you to get through your rehab?
I share a lot of the same thoughts (as Tamika Catchings). One of the hugest things for me was knowing that my sight was set on making the team and knowing that I had to work ten times harder than the average person if I even wanted to give myself a chance because of the young players that are coming out of college now pro-ready. They can jump into a WNBA game and make a huge impact very fast and if they can do that in our league domestically, imagine what they can do at the international level surrounded by the likes of Tamika Catchings, Lisa Leslie or Tina Thompson. So I know I had my work cut out for me and if this was a goal that I really wanted to achieve, then I had to put the work in. When you have a huge support system and when you have a huge amount of self-motivating power and a large belief in God, you can do anything.