2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11
2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11

Additional Quotes >> Wrapping up the 2013 USA National Team Mini-Camp

Oct. 6, 2013 • Las Vegas, Nev.

Geno Auriemma
Geno Auriemma, USA head coach (University of Connecticut)
With so many talented players, how difficult will it be for the committee to select a 12-person team?
I remember a time when it was very easy. The selections were made by virtue of the fact that there weren’t enough really great players. So, you had to really work hard to say ‘okay, well this person has potential and that person has potential.’ I think we’re at the point now with USA Basketball where present Olympians and present All-WNBA players, the gap between them and the next level of players is probably narrower than it’s been in a long, long time. And a weekend like this illustrates that.

Among the collegians, are they looked at for 2020 or do you think they’re legitimate candidates for 2014 and 2016?
I think it depends on the individuals. Some of it is, the returning players from the Olympics in London, what’s their physical status in 2014? So, that might have something to do with it. Their experience level, maybe after a year in the WNBA, that might change. And then with a year overseas, that might change. Some of the real young college players, an experience like this is invaluable to them, I think. People could say it’s a stretch that they could compete at a pro level in 2014. Now 2016 is a whole other story because you’re talking three years down the road and a lot could happen in three years. Certainly in 2020, you’re talking about the new core of this Olympic team. What a great way to start identifying who those players are.

Did any of the newcomers stand out to you?
I think in their own way everybody had an impact and stood out at different times in various ways. The thing that impressed me about all of them was their competitiveness and their almost complete lack of that feeling of, ‘I don’t belong here.’ I never saw that. They came in and acted like, ‘I have every right to be here because I was invited to be here, and so they must think I’m pretty good.’ And they acted like it. Somebody like Kayla McBride, who I’m sure a lot of the players here and a lot of the committee maybe didn’t know, they certainly know who she is today. Guys like Stewie (Breanna Stewart), because everybody knows her because of what happened in the NCAA Tournament, she certainly didn’t disappoint anybody. But, somebody like Kayla opened a lot of eyes because it’s her first time on this stage. When you see that, I think it’s very rewarding to be a part of that.

Is it fair to say that the future of USA Basketball is in good hands?
I would say so. It’s always been in good hands. That’s how USA Basketball has been able to do what they’ve done over the last 20 years. Looking around, I don’t see it changing all that much. The biggest area that is going to be a challenge is finding the next Sue (Bird) and Dee (Taurasi) to run the team. That change from Dawn Staley and Katie Smith, that group, to Sue and Dee and Tamika Catchings. That was a very smooth transition. There wasn’t a whole lot of change. I think right now, identifying who those three key players, at those three key positions are going to be. That’s going to be our biggest challenge for USA Basketball.

What is the most valuable take away for the college kids from this weekend?
I think when they go back to college, they’re going to be different. They’re going to go back to college, they’re going to look around and they’re going to go ‘you know what? I competed and held my own against pros.’ So now I think they’re going to carry themselves a little different, they’re going to act a little different, their confidence is at a whole different level than it was before. It was one of those things we talked about, whether they make the team, they don’t make the team, these three days for them has been a game changer. Hopefully they’ll take advantage of it.

Four years ago with this camp, there were a lot more questions in terms of not having as much depth. What did you see this weekend that was different in that respect than four years ago?
One of the things I pointed out was there are four former Olympians from 2012 who weren’t here because of the WNBA Finals. If they read this, they’re going to be upset with me and I don’t mean it that way, but we didn’t miss them. The reason I say that we didn’t miss them is because four years ago when we were doing some of these training camps, we were going on some of these trips, if we didn’t have four former Olympians, we were in deep doo doo, because it was hard for us to field the kind of team that you would say is representative of USA Basketball. So, what I mean by ‘we didn’t miss them,’ there are enough good players here to make you think, ‘You know what? If something were to happen and we had to go play, I’m not saying we would be as good, but we would be a lot better than we thought we would be four years ago. Now obviously when those four players come on board, whenever that is, that just takes it to a whole other level. So, I think the pool is getting significantly bigger each and every year. 

Are you pleased with how the team is shaping up after this training camp?
Yeah, and you’ve been around long enough to know that we never know what our team is. The only thing that we ever know at USA Basketball is who is available. And we really don’t know who our team is until we actually get to where we’re going and start playing. But, given who we have to choose from, yeah, I like our team.

Elena Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky)
On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
I think it was an incredible experience. It’s great to see all these great players in the gym together. When it’s time to be a team, we were a team, and when it was time to compete we did that too. It was really a great three days. I learned a lot about myself and what I need to improve on. I think we all did a phenomenal job, and now it’s going to be a very tough decision for the panel to make.

What did you do well and where do you think you need to improve?
Strength. I need to improve on that for sure. I learned that in my WNBA season and here also. Strength is the main thing. What I did well was my versatility, being able to shoot the ball at 6-5.

Did anyone surprise you or stand out?
I really enjoyed playing with Tamika (Catchings). She’s someone you learn on the court from. She teaches you while she’s playing with you. She’s an amazing player to be on the same court with.

Candice Dupree

Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury)
On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
It was good. It was a lot more comfortable for me than it has been in the past. Maybe it’s because I was a little more familiar with what he wanted to do. But, I think it was good. I saw a lot of different faces, new players. It was fun.

How difficult will it be for the committee to select a team of just 12 players out of this group?
It’s going to be difficult. It’ll be pretty hard. You saw quite a few college players who are extremely good. Then you’ve got to think about all the players who were on the last national team and those in between. So, it’s not going to be easy. I think quite a few people played really well.

Glory Johnson

Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock)
On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
This weekend was great. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I needed this before I go overseas, it helped me get ready for that. It was an exciting tryout. Everybody was very competitive and I’m a competitive person too, so it was awesome.

What was it like playing for coach Geno Auriemma?
It was fun. He demands a lot, just like Pat (Summitt) demanded a lot. It’s good to have coaches like that who are on you all the time. It’s a learning experience. Everyday you learn something new. Those are the best kind of coaches.

Jantel Lavender

Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks)
On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
It was fun. I had a good time. Obviously it’s great competition because it’s the best players in the WNBA and in college, too. I’m sore. It was a good workout. Like it said, it was fun.

What did you get out of the weekend?
Great competition. Being able to play with great guards, people who can shoot the ball. You kick it out and nine times out of 10, it’s going in the basket. It’s just fun playing with the best players, being able to do everything, having the right cutters. It’s just great basketball, and it’s fun to play like that.

What was it like being coached by Geno Auriemma?
He’s good. He’s intense in kind of a quiet way. You respect everything he says. He says it one time, and you just take it and do it. I like coaches who expect the best out of you. That’s how you want to play for those types of coaches – you don’t want to slack off or do anything less than the best because you know his expectations are really high. He makes everybody want to play at the highest level they can play at.

Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut)
On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
I think I played pretty well. I wanted to come in here and not overthink things, come in and work hard. I think I did that. I learned a lot that I can take back with me.

What did you learn?
What I learned is that you have to have constant energy. Sometimes in college practices there will be a lull, a low point or something like that. Out here, someone’s always talking. Someone’s always talking out on the court, during stretching and stuff like that, so you have to keep the energy high.

Who were you most looking forward to playing with out here?
I don’t think I had a top choice. I saw the roster and all the players who were on here and I was just looking forward to being a part of it and playing with all of them. I enjoyed it. It was a great experience.

How much do you think your past USA Basketball experience helped you coming in here?
My past USA Basketball experiences definitely helped me a lot because I kind of knew what the flow of things is. Even though it’s different coaches and stuff like that, to say that I played on USA teams before made me more comfortable, because if this was my first USA training camp, I’m sure I’d be extremely nervous.

Did it help having your teammates out here?
It definitely helped. Having Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) and Stefanie (Dolson) out here raised my level of comfort. Plus, the other people that I’m familiar with are nice.

Courtney Vandersloot

Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky)
What was it like being out here this weekend for your second USA National Team training camp?
This time it was a little bit more comfortable. Once you get a little experience. I’ve played with these girls a couple times now, instead of just playing against them (in the WNBA). It’s always fun. It’s competitive, and I always learn a lot.

You looked a lot more comfortable this weekend than you did two years ago when you were just out of college. Do you attribute that to having a couple professional seasons behind you?
Yeah. I think you learn a lot, not only coming here the first time, but then you play in the WNBA for awhile, play overseas, you learn a lot and you know kind of how things work. You’re more familiar a little bit more with being out here and that helps with the comfort.

What did you get out of this weekend?
I learned a lot. I know what I need to work on and what I need to do to hopefully make this team at some point. I got better, had fun, all those things.