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Quotes >> USA National Team Steps On the Court in Paris

  • Date:
    Sep 17, 2014

After a long day of travel that began at 9 a.m. (EDT) in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team landed in Paris early Wednesday morning. Once all the team’s luggage was accounted for and loaded on board, the bus slowly made its way through rush hour traffic to their hotel, situated near the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, where they’ll tip-off the France International Tournament against rival Australia on Friday night (11:30 a.m. EDT). Upon arrival, the squad unloaded, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to their rooms for a very brief nap -- about 20-30 minutes -- and then took to the court to loosen up and put up some shots. Lunch was ready once the team got back from practice and plans were put in motion to visit the Eiffel Tower later in the evening. The remainder of the day will be spent napping, unpacking, chatting with family via Skype and for Breanna Stewart, studying.


USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)

Was today’s practice mainly about getting everyone moving or did you work on anything specific?

We sat around a lot on the bus trip yesterday. We sat around a lot on the plane. Then we got here, and we were stuck in traffic. So, there was a lot that can make you sluggish and stale a little bit. We came out here today to get our legs back, and I thought they were great. Everybody really wanted to move. Lindsay Whalen just said that, ‘It was good to get our bodies moving.’ And we got some things done. We got a little better as a team, and tomorrow we’ll get a couple new guys in, throw them into the mix. We’ll get a little better tomorrow, and then we’ll play Friday.

Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx)

Did you work on anything specific in practice or was it more about getting your legs under you?

It was a little bit of both. It was good to get in here and clean some stuff up on the defensive end. We had a few miscues against Canada, which is expected. We’ve only been together for a week, so to get in here, get up and down a little bit, it actually helped us flush our legs out, get the plane out of us, get the travel out of us. Most importantly, we added in some new plays, and we went over some defensive schemes that will help us in the exhibition games that are coming up.

Kayla McBride (San Antonio Stars)

After a long travel day, how did it feel getting on the court for practice?

It feels good to be able to get out here with the girls. We’ve been traveling for 15 hours straight, so it’s kind of nice to just put a basketball in your hands and get back to what we want to do, which is play basketball. Coach Auriemma made a good point – we have to have that mental toughness. We are going to be traveling a lot throughout this time for the World Championship, so we have to be mentally ready. If we have to travel 14 hours on a bus, whatever, so days like today help us get ready for that.

Did the team do well in practice?
We were a little shaky in the beginning. We were trying to get our legs moving. We haven’t really been doing anything for the last 24 hours. But once we started going, the intensity picked up, and we got a lot done.

This is a smaller group than you previously had. Is there a different feel?

There is a lot more camaraderie. We are starting to learn each other a little bit more. You know where people want to get shots and how people play a little bit better. We are starting to come together, and then we are going to add some more players tomorrow, so we will have to start all over again. We are just trying to be ready and to stay in the flow of things.

How do you keep yourself ready through these different challenges that come along?

I think it’s a lot of watching who is ahead of you, especially being a younger player. Watching Maya, watching Angel and those players, and seeing what they do and trying to do that and trying to be better. They have been at the highest level for so long, so being in these types of situations, that is what you want to do. You want to try and be where they are.

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)

After a long travel day, how did it feel getting on the court for practice?

I think it was kind of refreshing. We had a long bus ride, then we flew here on the plane and it took us a while to get here from the airport, but once we here everybody was ready to get down to business. That’s what coach Auriemma said. We don’t care about where we are staying, how we get there, what happens, all the variables don’t matter. All we care about is winning. So, I think that is the type of practice that we had today.

This is a smaller group than you previously had. Is there a different feel?

It’s the same intensity. We come in everyday working hard, trying to get better. I’m learning a lot everyday from my teammates and from the coaches. I think we are just maintain that winning culture that USA is all about.

Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock)

After a long travel day, how did it feel getting on the court for practice?

We feel good. It’s all about just adapting. We know we had a long day of traveling, being on a bus, being on a plane, but we are pros. It’s nothing that we haven’t experience before. I’m pretty sure the veterans that play overseas, it gets even crazier. So, this was nothing. I think our energy level was very high coming out today. We are all tired, but nobody showed how tired they were. When we step on the court, you can’t show how tired you are, you can’t show if you are sleepy or anything. Nothing else matters but just playing basketball and getting through practice.

How do you keep yourself ready through these different challenges that come along?

Well I sleep a lot, so sleep really helps me. But what is most important is to stay hydrated. Being on the plane, those long travel days, you got to stay hydrated. We are in a new environment, trying to adapt to everything, so you have to drink, you have to drink more than anything. Make sure you eat, and you have to get on the local time schedule. It’s a six, or seven hour difference, so you really just have to get your body on track with the day and then go from there.

This is a smaller group than you previously had. Is there a different feel?

Not at all. The ones who are here, we are excited. We are ready to play on Friday. Whatever happens after this weekend – if I don’t make it, if I do make it – it’s still a great experience. The guys that are here, we are still working hard. I don’t think anybody is worried about what is coming up this weekend, because nothing else really matters except playing hard. Everybody brings something different to the team, so we are all just focused on doing what we do best. And hopefully we get picked, and if not, then don’t leave here with our head hung low. We take it, and we run with it and hopefully we get invited back.

Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut)

How was today’s practice after a long travel day?

The practice was good today. It was good to get up and down, get your wind back after a long day of traveling and get back out on the court.

What are you doing to stay on top of your studies?

I’m keeping up pretty well so far. I’m making sure I get things in by the due date. I met with my academic advisor in Bridgeport, and she helped me stay organized. I think the biggest thing is making myself do the work. There’s no one else here making sure I do the work, besides me.

Have you gotten any advice from Maya Moore, who was in a similar situation four years ago?

Yes. The advice Maya has given me is basically making sure you stay on top of it, because once you get behind you’re always going to be behind in your schoolwork.

Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)

How was today’s practice after a long travel day?

Once you break a sweat you feel good, especially after the long travel. You just kind of go to the next spot, and it was definitely good to move and break a sweat and feel like you’ve got that plane ride out of you a little and get a good workout in. I thought we had a good practice today.

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