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USAB Women's Showcase

Additional Quotes >> Women's USA Basketball Showcase

  • Date:
    Sep 11, 2014

Newark, Delaware

Sgt. Major Bryan Battaglia, Senior Enlisted Advisory to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

On the significance of tonight’s game, being played on 9/11:

I think a little bit about what today’s game means to us, the service members who attended this evening is more than just the opportunity, probably more than a once in a life opportunity to spend it with such greatness and excellence as our national team. But it was also an opportunity to share what part of America here in the University of Delaware, a day that’s engraved in us forever, and that being September 11. We really and truly appreciated what little time that it was to spend here in your arena, with you to share not only seeing excellence in action, but the historical memory and commemoration of September 11.

On spending time on Tuesday and again today with the USA National Team:

I think it just goes to what coach already alluded to and that’s the longstanding relationship that we have had and we continue to have. This started some years ago with Hoops for Troops that Coach K initiated. It’s carried on and grown legs, grown with momentum and I’ve even been a direct part of it myself with the NBA and NBA Cares, Hoops for Troops and some other places of the players giving back to the community. We know in the Armed Forces, we in our own way give back to our communities as well. Why not team up, pair up, we are so used to operating as a team in and of itself and go out to the communities and do it together. This is all part of a larger initiative and effort of our 18th Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey) in cooperation with commissioner (Adam) Silver, the NBA, WNBA, USA Basketball, as to how we pair or team up together to go out in our communities throughout the entire country, all of our nation’s neighborhoods, all 30 teams across the states and give back to them. We are very, very appreciative of our men and women who volunteer to serve in the Armed Forces and we know that our country appreciates our service. But we want to show in as many ways that we can and part of that is giving back to them in any way that we can. We have such a great partner as coach (Auremma) and his team, I’m hoping, and I know that it will, be a relationship that will continue for many, many years to come.

 

USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)

On the significance of tonight’s game being played on 9/11:

From a USA Basketball National Team standpoint, we know what we have to do. We know that we have a finite time to do it. We make a commitment for a short period of time. By October 5, this will all be over for us. But what I think what days like today do is to try to instill in our players that it’s never over. Once you’re part of USA Basketball, once you make that commitment to be a part of our national team, it’s never over. Your commitment to the national team lasts forever. It’s just that sometimes you’re playing and sometimes you’re not. Sometimes you’re part of the team that’s competing that year and sometimes you’re not. That’s the lesson that comes from being associated with the servicemen and women in our country: that that commitment is not only when you’re in active service, but it’s a lifetime commitment that you make.

Having it on September 11, it is significant, obviously, for all the reasons that we know. Sometimes we make it so that we have short memories and September 11 we want to think about and honor what happened on 9/11. And yet the rest of the year we may not give it the respect that it deserves. I think sometimes that’s true of our servicemen and women. That when it’s Veteran’s Day or when it’s a special occasion, you think about the commitment and the service that they make and we don’t do it the other days. We try to teach our players that it is a lifetime, 24/7, 12 months out of the year commitment and a day like today reinforces that for us. And the exchange of the dog tags and the coin that we had with the servicemen and women, that’s so that our players know that when they’re overseas and they’re competing for their country, that they’re not alone and that they represent the people that make this country what it is. It’s as much of an emotional and symbolic gesture as it is a reminder to them of who we are and what we stand for.

(Question inaudible)

When two great teams are playing against each other and we’re planning to win the gold medal, so we’re planning what would happen in the semifinals and finals, not that the other team’s aren’t as good, but those are the games that we really get tested, because those are the best teams that are left. Whatever play you want to run, whatever play you draw up, it’s not going to work. They’ve scouted it, they’ve studied it, they know what they’re planning for, they’ve game planned for it, so you go in thinking like these guys (military) do, there’s a Plan A, but there’s a Plan B, C and D, and we feel like against the best teams, your plays are not necessarily going to work. So what does work is individuals making great plays. So, when you have people like Sue (Bird) and Lindsay (Whalen) in the backcourt, they can see when something is just about ready to break down and then they make a play and make it all look great. Then you add to that, players that they can pass to that can make plays. Angel McCoughtry and Maya Moore are great playmakers, not just finishers. You saw some of that today. We try to attract people that have that in them and then try to reinforce it.

What struck you about tonight, especially some of the younger players?

When we had this training camp in Las Vegas (in Oct. 2013), none of the Olympians participated, so all the young guys looked really good. And we all went away from there going ‘wow. We have some great young players, you should see these guys, they’re really, really good.’ Then, when the Olympians came back and we put them on the floor with the young guys, all of a sudden the young guys didn’t look so good. There’s a real gap between some of the players that have won two or three Olympic gold medals and the young guys that are trying to make the team. There’s a gap there.

But, having said that, there’s an athletic ability. There’s a youthful kind of hunger to play and somebody like Nneka (Ogwumike) who has not ever played on the national team, she did things today that makes you appreciate who she is and what she is. Everybody had their moments. Everybody had their moments. The young players all had moments where they looked great and they all had moments where they struggled. Now you have to look at, when those players that are in the pool who aren’t here, when they come back it’s going to be even harder for some of these younger guys. So, we’ve got our work cut out for us to find who that final 12 is going to be.

 

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)

On tonight’s game and what the halftime ceremony meant:

The game I thought was great. Obviously you’re playing against each other and that can actually be harder than playing against other countries because we’re so familiar with one another, we run the same plays, so we cheat a little bit. But overall I think we got into a groove there.  And as far as the halftime ceremony, as you can see we are all very excited about our dog tags. Really just this whole week, being able to meet some of the members of the military and learn about them. There are so many similarities between us as athletes and them as members of the military. It’s really been a unique opportunity to first hand to get to learn about those things, so overall it has been a lot of fun

On playing for Geno the Olympic coach vs. Geno the college coach:

I think the better answer or question to your question is that it is really an adjustment for him in a lot of ways more so than it is for us. Obviously we played for him for four years, for me, I have been out of school a lot longer. And for all of us when you are in the WNBA you fall into that pattern, you play a certain way, a certain style, you are used to certain things, it’s a professional game, it’s different. So in a lot of ways he has to take his style of play and adjust to us, not necessarily the other way around. I think now it is, I guess, his fifth year with the national team and he has really done a great job. He has figured out a way to relate to us in other ways that maybe wouldn’t work if he was working with college kids, the same thing’s not going to work and I think he really has done a great job of adjusting and making us play his way without even know it, so I give him a lot of credit for that.

How do you feel about the chemistry and how well the team is already coming together?

One thing that I love about playing for USA Basketball is that you obviously have a collection of the best players in the country, without a doubt. But, we’re also very unselfish. There is not one player out there who is trying to make a play for their self. That’s something that coach Auriemma believes in and harps on. It works. It’s a perfect fit because every single player we had out there was really just trying to make the right play. What you saw is an example of that, us trying to make the right play. And because there’s so much talent, you might see spectacular things now and then. But really, it’s just about reading and reacting. You mentioned Lindsay (Whalen), Maya (Moore), myself, as well as many other players. Us three, we’re kind of veterans in this now. We’re kind of comfortable. I think we understand our own games, we understand each other’s games and how to make that work within a team setting. So, to be able to put it together this quickly is somewhat surprising, but not really.

 

Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars)

On tonight’s game:

I think at first there was little bit of jitters, in the first half we were missing just normal shots that we normally make.  But I think the second half we kind of got going. We started moving the ball better, we started learning each other a little bit better even just in the second half and kind of got the flow going and made the game a lot more interesting.

On the halftime ceremony:

It’s kind of surreal. To be a part of USA Basketball team is so limited compared to what officers do for us and their service.  So it is just an amazing feeling to have something that we share together on this level because it is so much bigger than us, bigger than this, USA Basketball, and what they represent is amazing. It was really, really cool because they see us as superstars but we see them the same way. And these dog tags are pretty sweet as well.

Was there a performance that stood out to you?

Lindsay Whalen, I think definitely in the second half she took over. In the first half she was dishing the ball but then she started scoring in the second half and she gave us that extra push we needed in the second half, the red team, to get over that hump in the second half.


Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)

On tonight’s game and what the halftime ceremony meant:

Totally I thought as the game went on you could see people getting more and more comfortable with each other and what we were running. That was the first time we played those plays and what we have been running in the game so the second half I thought was really exciting, there were some great plays made.

Like Sue said, this whole week has been really, I think humbling for all of us to be around so many men and women that serve and remind us of how much we represent these men and women who are putting their lives on the line and training and sacrificing some of their comforts for our freedoms is pretty much the motivation that any of us need to go out and work and fight and compete as hard as we can. So we carry those memories with us and this is very symbolic of what we have experienced this week and hopefully will continue to experience. 

On playing for Geno the Olympic coach vs. Geno the college coach:

I found that I hear him in my head when I’m playing even though he’s not really yelling at me.

(reporter says “when you are in Minnesota?” to which Maya responds: “When I’m eating lunch, no,  I’m just kidding.”)

It is really actually pretty cool to come back as a pro and just to remember where I came from and all the things I’m doing well now, and all the things that Sue is doing well now, is a reason because of him and the Connecticut players and the other coaches that we were blessed to play with for our four years there. So all those little things that he harps on, he is really a great teacher of the fundamentals of basketball, and so that’s really refreshing actually to come back because you don’t necessarily have that time in the W to really focus on those fundamentals. So I have really enjoyed that and I think the players that really enjoy the game, which is all of us, enjoy that getting back to the basics and he does such a great job of teaching it. So like I said it is pretty refreshing whereas in Connecticut I wouldn’t call it refreshing, it’s hard because you are learning it hardcore, maybe for the first time, as a college student.

How do you feel about the chemistry and how well the team is already coming together?

Basketball is basketball. When you have great players, great plays are going to happen. What coach Auriemma puts us in offensively, it puts every player in a position to shine and to do their best. Also, we’re very familiar with each other. We’ve played with and against each other for so long. I know when Angel (McCoughtry) is streaking down the court, throw it at the rim and she’ll go get it and put it in. So, it’s really fun. I get excited to find as many ways to make those passes, because usually that’s the person I’m trying to beat. It’s been really fun for all of us to share the ball with each other and knowing a great finisher is on the other side.


Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks):

On tonight’s game:

I think that as a team we definitely cleaned things up. Our scrimmage wasn’t as crisp as we had hoped and we slowed things down, executed, moved the ball and I was just trying my best to finish, finish every basket as much as I could and take good shots. I think we did a good job, of, we had a few mishaps on defense but I think for the most part we did a pretty good job of not giving up a whole bunch of easy baskets. It was good, overall I think it was really good.   Coach Auriemma wanted us to play hard but not foul a lot, that’s not how the game is, so we were just trying to stay true to our defensive rules and finish every basket, every easy basket at least and take good shots

On what can improve:

I think we could definitely hone our weak side defense and our help side defense and spacing. I think we struggled a little bit with spacing at times. We cleaned it up a bit but those might be a few things we might work on in the next upcoming days before we head overseas.

On the 9/11 ceremony at halftime:

That was very special, very reverent and I have been telling everyone that these dog tags are probably the coolest thing I have ever received playing USA Basketball.  It has our information on it but they also gave us their own dog tag. We were really happy to share that moment with the people that are the most important team in the USA. So it was a very special moment.


Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock)

On tonight’s game:

As a whole we looked good. It was just good basketball today. You can always work on different stuff and you can always improve on stuff, defense can get a little bit better but other than that we did overall.

On the halftime ceremony with the military:

It was great. It was pretty cool. I’ve never been a part of anything like that but I was grateful for the experience and I will keep it forever.


Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)

On tonight’s game:

Felt really good. First half I was just trying to get a feel for it, get a feel for the game and go out there and try to execute, try to make some plays.  It was a fun day today, coming here today and getting a shoot around in and a little practice and then getting to play a game, it was fun and I thought everyone enjoyed it.

Getting people involved was my main focus early, for me just moving the ball and making sure we were getting good looks. I thought Jantel (Lavender) was rolling really well and we found her a lot. I think just getting extra possessions was a big key for our team and pushing it in transition. I thought Nneka (Ogwumike) really knocked down some jumpers, I thought Sue (Bird) moved well without the ball and found her jumpers. I thought that a lot of people were able to show theirs skills and that’s what you want.

On the 9/11 halftime ceremony:

I was really honored to be in our service members’ presence and knowing what they do is really very important. It makes our country go and makes our country what it is and to be around them is a privilege and honor for us.

 

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