USA Women's National Team Practice Quotes (7/30/16)
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (Connecticut)
It’s hard to get a lot done. It’s hard to do a lot physically, but I thought we got a lot accomplished. We obviously have a very difficult game tomorrow, so we wanted to make sure that we put in a game plan, a few things that we want to get accomplished. But, the real test is going to come down in Rio. So, these are kind of extra practice sessions for us, like tomorrow is. Obviously, we want to win. This group is pretty committed to what we want to do. So, it’s not difficult to get them all on the same page. It’s just a matter of having the time to cover all the things that we think we have to cover. So, today was a good step in that direction.
On the three four-time Olympians:
USA Basketball is kind of unique in that respect. They get these kids when they are 16, a lot of times. Sometimes earlier, when they are 15, and the experience that they have is so positive, that once they go through it, they want to repeat it over and over again. So, guys like Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, every time they have been asked to do something with USA Basketball. They never hesitate. It’s not like, ‘My schedule, I can’t fit it in.’ Not like, ‘I’m tired.’ Not like, ‘I can’t do this.’ Every single World Championship, sue and D especially, every single World Championship since they’ve come out of college, they have played, and every single Olympics. And it’s just something that they feel very strongly about, and it’s an example that they set for everybody else. But really, it’s from the top down. It’s the example that Carol Callan sets for the program as a whole, and those kids just become really indebted and committed and really, fully invested. They have their team that they play for in the WNBA> They have their team overseas. They’ve got lots of stuff going on, but this is kind of like their home base. They know that they always have this that they really, really enjoy playing with all the great players.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
How have you changed from your first Olympics to now?
I think just by nature of getting older and having more experience, just playing a lot of basketball, I hope that I’m just a smarter basketball player than I was when I was 23. One can only hope. Aside from that, I think you just have to control what you can. You can control what you put in your body. You can control how you take care of yourself. You can control how time you put in in terms of working out and being in great shape. So, you want control those things. And again, I just hope over the last 12 years, I’ve been able to do what I can control.
What would it mean to join an elite group of players with four Olympic medals?
It’s incredible. I think it says even more that we are going to have three – hopefully if everything goes well, we’ll have three on this team alone. The category of people we will be in, Lisa Leslie, Teresa Edwards obviously has everyone with five, but that’s an elite group of people that we will be mentioned with. So, it’s pretty cool. Not only for myself to be a part of that, but to know that there are two others on this team that also are going to be doing it alongside me.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
Does this mean more to you now than it did when you were younger?
It’s tough to say, because the first time I made it I was like, ‘Oh man!’ I was so excited. Every single year when you have that opportunity, because you don’t know, there are players obviously that you’ve seen who haven’t been able to play consistently for however many Olympics. For me, it’s a blessing every time I make it. I feel that the excitement that I have is always there.
You’re the oldest one on the team, right?
(laughs) I like to say (I’m) the most seasoned, the most seasoned player.
On the growth in competition from international teams:
Definitely. And the reason why is because you see a lot of our WNBA players going overseas and being a part of those teams. So, I know from playing in (South) Korea, that was one of the things they always talked about, they loved having American players or other players come over, because they (Koreans) can learn from us. I feel like just looking at the caliber of players around the world, definitely from the countries that have the most Americans playing, you see their level of play going up.
Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky)
On the USA’s win over Canada?
… We wanted to take them out of their offense. They like to run a lot of clock, so we wanted to make it hard for them to reverse the ball and get into their offense. It was really effective.
How easy is it, as a scorer, to play with so many other great players?
It’s so easy, and so much fun. I feel like sometimes you look at us, and our eyes are wide open, because there are so many options. It’s something we are getting used to and improving on. There are sometimes when people pass up a wide open shot that they shouldn’t at all, but we are just getting used to it, and I think we will continue to improve.
Are you excited to get to Madison square garden?
I’m really excited. I love playing at M.S.G. I think it will be a really great crowd, and we have to get one more under our belt before heading to Rio.
Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
On Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi competing in their fourth Olympics:
I don’t think it amazes me, because that’s what they’re wired to do. That’s what they want to do as people and as players. They love the game and they want to keep playing it. And they’re playing at the best level there is. To be able to be a part of that with them, they’re going for their fourth, and to be a part of that is huge.
On the USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon games:
Traveling around, we’re somewhat familiar. Obviously all the players on this team are familiar with all their players, since we’re played them, with many different overseas and international basketball (games) and that kind of thing. But it’s a nice way to get you prepared. It’s great competition and we’re going to face probably every single team again in Rio.
What is it about this experience that makes you want to continue to return?
You know, you don’t get these very often. I’ve just been lucky and this is my fourth, but you ask anybody who has played in one Olympics, two (Olympics), if they ask and you’re playing at that level and you have an opportunity to play for the U.S., you do it. Because it’s bigger than you. It humbles you as a basketball to be on the court with … you know, now, looking at it from a different view, seeing Tina coming into her prime, Maya, Angel, just as a basketball player, it makes you feel good.
Do you have a favorite Olympic memory of Tamika Catchings?
There are just so many abut Catch. When you’re on the court with her, she just effects the game in so many ways. Even when you’re on her team, you’re just like, ‘I better do something,’ because she makes you play at this level of intensity. Maybe it’s not a moment, maybe it’s a decade of that energy. I’ve learned a lot from that and I’ve been lucky to be on the court with her. Catch has been on so many amazing situations. She was the fifth starter in ’04. A lot of people don’t remember that, but Katie Smith gets hurt and Catch goes in with Dawn, Sheryl, Lisa and Tina. To be the fifth Beatle on that group? She was the only that can go into that group and hold her own. She was the fifth one and she kind of represented the younger generation. She was there for me, Sue, Swin and Ruth at the time. So I think when I saw her out with that group, I was like, ‘Man, Catch is going to be, and is, legendary.