Practice Quotes >> USA Women's National Team Arrives In Turkey
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
How do you feel about having your 12-member roster and its first practice today?
I feel great. We finally look like the kind of team that … Nobody is worried about making the team. No one is in jeopardy of being sent home and doing things in practice that is not natural for them. So, what I saw today was our team, and I saw a lot of really, really good things. We have one more practice tomorrow, and we are going to be OK.
What was it like getting Brittney out there with the group?
It was great. Our shooting percentage is going to go up, because she takes really high-percentage shots, a foot from the basket. I just really am – I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, because I’m not, but I’m just really like, ‘Wow, she’s gotten so much better since I saw her on that little tour of Italy we did (in 2011). She’s much more consistent. She moves so much better. There’s just a lot that she is going to be able to add to our team, defensively and offensively.
Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx)
How was the team’s first practice in Turkey?
It was good just to get out there on the court. We finally have the finalized team of 12 players, added in B.G. (Brittney Griner), so it was great to get her in some reps. We went over some defensive schemes with her being the centerpiece of our defense. And offensively, we are the best team in the world as far as having people that can score at will on our team. So, it was mainly getting in a rhythm. We had a day off yesterday because we traveled, so today was just kind of getting your legs underneath you and getting focused on what we need to do over the next week-and-a-half.
You’ve played China once in exhibition. What’s the game plan this time around?
I feel like the last time we played them, we played fairly well. So, you just want to raise it up another level. Defensively, something that we always talk about is minimizing easy baskets, layups, with people have been getting a lot of layups against us. Offensively, we just have to be on the attack – like how people try to attack us in the paint. We need to do the same to them and try to be aggressive and get to the free throw line and create second-chance opportunities for ourselves.
Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)
You just completed your first practice with the team. How did it feel?
It was good. I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be back with these girls. It’s always a fun practice when you have the best athletes on the team.
Is it tough to catch up to speed?
Some of the plays, I know already. It’s not hard, and everybody is helping me out. Everybody is a leader on the team, so they all are like, ‘Come over here and set this screen.’ But coach and everybody is talking to me and working with me.
Do you know what your role will be yet?
I think my role will be blocking shots, playing defense and protecting that paint. So, I’m happy with that, because I love defense.
Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock)
How does it feel to be in Turkey after a long training camp?
It feels great, knowing that we don’t have to go any more places. We will be here for a week-and-a-half. We are getting a lot of stuff done everyday in practice, which has been great. Leading up into the World Championship, I think we are just enjoying it. Istanbul is a nice place to be in, so it’s been great.
What are you personally trying to bring to the team?
I’m just trying to bring energy, leadership, trying to help keep everything going and the flow of the game going. And just feed off of what Sue (Bird) and Lindsay (Whalen) do when they are in the game.
It was just a few days ago that you were named to the World Championship team. What was that like for you?
I was excited just be here with all of the veterans and soon-to-be legends – some of the greatest players to play the game. It’s just an honor. I’m blessed to be here, and I’m just going to make the most out of the opportunity while I’m here.
I miss playing with B.G. (Brittney Griner). I had her for three years, and my senior year, I was lonely. So, I’m glad to have her back. I’m going to have to work on those passes. I haven’t done those in a while. It’s great.
Are you able to help her come up to speed with the team?
I’m helping her a lot, especially if I’m in her group. Even when I’m on the sideline, because it’s going to take her a minute. We have a lot of different offenses and options. Technically, you can’t be wrong, but when we call something, we all need to know what to run, and then we can feed off of what we do. She’ll get it. It’s the game of basketball. As long as you move and have good spacing, then I think she will be ok.