Quotes From Women's National Team Scrimmage With Canada
Geno Auriemma, Head Coach (University of Connecticut)
Impressions of this team, where do you feel you are now?
It is always hard to gauge when you’re playing that many players, trying to get 17 players in the mix is not the easiest thing in the world but I thought everybody got an opportunity to play and to show a little bit about what they can do. Obviously some groups, some combinations, looked better than others and you could tell the most experienced guys could so some things instinctively but I thought, all in all, Canada is not an easy team to play against because of all the movement and all the screens and all the cutting that they do and I thought defensively I thought we were pretty good given that we haven’t been together a long time. Offensively we’ve got guys that can score. We didn’t make a whole lot of shots, I don’t think we made a lot of 3’s but we’re going to keep getting better and go from there.
How deep will the cuts be tonight? What number do you want to get to before to tomorrow’s game?
I know Carol (Callan) was talking to the committee that she would like to, if possible, get it to twelve. I don’t know if that’s going to be possible but I think that’s what they would like to do so that when we add the other people that are coming later in the week we’re not at an unmanageable number. I think four or five, that decision is going to be difficult but I think that is probably the right number.
How is Stewie (Breanna Stewart) doing?
Stewie (Breanna Stewart) is doing great. Stewie does what she does. You’re not going to play 30 minutes; you’re not going to out there a long long time but you have to be impactful while you’re out there and so far she has done that.
Do you have any reason to believe that Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne won’t be medically ready to play?
I don’t know. That’s the other thing that Carol Callan is waiting on. Obviously they both have issues and what those issues are or how long they will be impacted I don’t know. We’re leaving Tuesday, so right now we’re trying to figure out what is the status of Brittney, what is the status of Elena, the same with Sylvia (Fowles), she’s got issues with her feet. So you’ve got three players that right now there’s no guarantee that any of them could be available or they all could be available, we just don’t know right now.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On Breanna Stewart:
On paper as a player, she has some skills that can really separate her and she’s showing it. I think it’s hard when you’re a young kid to come into this environment and really establish yourself. But each day she’s done a better job of that.
What kind of skills are you talking about?
Her height and what she can do with that height. Whether it be the shooting, the ability to drive, rebound, really it’s all the things you might see in another player, but the fact that she’s, what, 6-4, 6-5? It’s very difficult to guard her and she’s been playing well.
Are you able to enjoy the process more as a veteran?
Yes and no. The more you experience things, the more you’re aware of how it works. So you can, in the moment, step back and enjoy it a little bit more. You know what to expect, you know how to get ready, you know what it’s going to be like so you can sit back and enjoy it. I think I have done that a little bit just in this first week.
Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock)
Talk about the trials process:
I don’t think it is difficult at all, as far as, I mean, people would kill to be here so whenever you get this opportunity you come, you play as hard as you can and it is a learning experience. Like coach Auriemma said, it is all about getting better. And I can learn if players like Lindsay Whalen, if I can learn from Seimone Augustus, and Angel, Maya, players that have been here, Sue, then I am going to take that opportunity. If I can pick apart Coach Auriemma’s brain for a little bit, Coach Dawn Staley, Cheryl Reeve then I’m going to take that opportunity. It is just about being ready, keeping your value up for your moment so if my moment is tonight and they say ‘Sky you’re on the team’ then I’m going to come back and I’m going to play as hard as I can for the team. If they say ‘it’s not this time’ then I’m going to go home and keep my value up. You have to embody the whole experience. I mean obviously everyone wants to win a gold medal but it is all about getting better and enjoying the process.
How fun is it playing with these players versus playing against them?
You love when you play with great players, it’s easy, it’s easy. There’s such a high basketball IQ out here between all the players, figuring out how you’re going to stop this player in the WNBA or in college or what have you. To come together and beat other people – that’s the fun part. And it is fun just to see how people’s brains work and just to be able to experience this with them, and you get to meet new friends and people that you don’t have an opportunity to spend a lot of time with, you may click right away and your friendship may last. You know, most of my friends I met through USA Basketball so this is a great opportunity.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Talk about what it is like to be back again and heading towards the World Championship:
This is really special, just to be able not only be on this USA national team but having my favorite coaches, current and former, with me now and of course all the great women I have beside me and then to top it off to come back to Connecticut and do it, it’s really fun. I’m going to hopefully see some familiar faces the next few days, being back in this arena, even played here in the NCAA tournament, and several of have so it is really special again, to be healthy enough to be part of this group and represent for the United States and prepare. We don’t have a lot of time together so, so far I think we have made most of the time we have together.
You play so many different places does playing for the national team have its own special niche for you?
For sure, I think those years are a little bit easier to differentiate between the others because it’s not every year for a long period of time, it’s very short segments throughout the year that you actually get to come together and compete as a team. So I cherish them. I think it is really fun. You get to be on the same team with the people that you have been trying to beat all year. And just really get to learn from new coaches that you might not be able be coached by as well. More than anything, this time, especially with Coach Auriemma is getting back to the basics, the fundamentals of basketball and just kind of getting refreshed and the little things that have helped bring us to where we are as players. So I use it as a good time to get back to the basics and compete and sharpen up on the fundamentals that maybe have gotten left out a little bit.
Do you feel more like a leader than you did when you compare it to four and two years ago, do you feel your position on the national team shifting?
Absolutely, I remember feeling like the young kid, and you know we’re going to get some vets that are coming from the Finals too and that will change the dynamic a little bit. But you know this year especially, not only on the lynx but here too, I feel like I’ve had to step up leadership-wise vocally and always by example but in 2010, 2012 I was the youngest player every single time we were together, so the only college kid in 2010, the youngest player in 2012, so it was fun just watching and observing and I was soaking in everything I could from some of the vets that had been around. And now, here being one of the more experienced maybe not in age but in experience with USA on the national team it just was kind of just national to step up, hop in, go first and try to lead by example but also listening too knowing I still have a long way to go to be my best here with this group. So it has been fun to help and to benefit from the experience that I have had.
Nneka Ogwumike (LA Sparks)
On her performance today:
I’m just trying to do the best I can, make my teammates better, come out and hustle, do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do and help USA win. I’m excited to be able to play with so many different people, we have so many arsenals, we have no liabilities but it is all about finding the right fit right now, and once we find that right fit, hopefully I’m in it and I’m just here to help the team progress.
I mean, when we were playing in Delaware I was just kind of like, I’m just playing. I think today was a little bit slower because we had a day off yesterday and then you have 17 people that you’ve got to sub in so you really don’t know when you’re going into the game but you have to stay ready. So that was mostly my focus today, just staying on my toes and getting ready to go in whenever coach needed me.
Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock)
What can fans expect to see tomorrow in the USA-Canada game?
Probably a good match-up. I think in the first quarter (of today’s scrimmage) it was all about runs for us. But they made us look bad on defense. The backdoor cuts and everything, they really feed off of the defense and what you do. So, I think it’ll be a great match-up. Canada’s a really good team. They’re long and athletic. They have a lot of girls who can shoot 3s. They set a lot of flares. Those are not easy to guard, so it’ll be very interesting.
How tough is this process and do you think you’ve done enough to move on with this team?
It’s very tough. Just knowing that cuts are going to be made. You don’t know if it’s going to be you or somebody else. But if I’m one of the ones to get cut, I’ll take this experience back with me and I’ll learn from it. These are all great players. I know the decision won’t be easy, but hopefully USA Basketball will invite me back to another one of these camps and I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and that’s do what I do best. Hopefully I get picked, but if not then I’ll keep playing and get ready for overseas and come back next time.
Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut)
What can fans expect tomorrow night?
I think it will be a good game. Obviously it is different when you’re playing against someone else besides the people you have been practicing with for a while so I think it was cool to be all on the same team. And obviously Canada, they are a good team and I think that as I’ve played through the levels you can remember some of the people who have played on the teams that you have competed against and it is cool to see them again.
What’s the process been like?
I think it has been a learning experience obviously just because everyone who I’m playing against, playing with have been so successful with basketball and what they are trying to do and obviously in their professional careers and stuff like that, but at the same time just trying to and learn as much as I can and continue to play with the team
Lindasy Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
What can fans expect to see tomorrow in the USA-Canada game?
Canada, you can really tell they’ve put in a lot of work. They’re playing well and they’re playing really hard. That’s always how they’ve played and I have a lot of respect for a lot of those players. I’ve played against a lot of them for years in the WNBA, in college and now in national team tournaments. We know it’ll be a really good game.
What do you think of some of the younger kids who are participating in this camp?
First of all, I thought they all have a great mind-set and attitude. Just to come in and compete and work hard, there’s definitely a lot of talent on the team and in the pool. There are a lot of great players and it’s been fun to get to know some of the young guys. A bunch of years ago, I was one of the young guys and now to be one of the older ones, it’s kind of cool to be a part of everything. You’re older, you’re a veteran and trying to help out leadership-wise, anything I can do is really cool. It’s a different kind of aspect of it. I’m just enjoying all of it.