USA Women’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes (7/28/16)
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (Connecticut)
How much does it help to have five former Connecticut players and nine players from the 2012 Olympics?
We don’t have the luxury of time, like the other teams have had. So, we are cramming everything in, and both things – having five of my former players helps. Even though, other than Stewie, they are kind of removed from UConn, and they’ve added a lot of layers to who they are. So, they are not the same. Stewie is the same, to a certain extent. But having nine players from the (2012) Olympic Team, that’s a source of confidence for our coaching staff that at crunch time, they will have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done, because they have done it.
How much do you enjoy this experience?
It depends. Some days are more fun than others. Again, because of the time crunch, you always feel like you are under the gun to get everything done, and you just don’t have the time to do it. So, you are always keeping your fingers crossed that something doesn’t pop up that you haven’t prepared for. All these games are like our training camp still. So, I enjoy that part of it. I enjoy the competition against some of the best teams in the world. And I enjoy the fact that the players we are working with are really, really, really good, and they really understand what they have to do. There is not a lot of drop off when you make a substitution, like there would be in college. In that respect, it’s a whole different experience than coaching UConn, obviously.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On Breanna Stewart’s approach to the Olympics:
Well, obviously I play with Stewie in Seattle. The last couple of months, the Olympics have come up every now and then. The majority of what I help her with is a packing, what you’re going to need to wear, when, why, what to expect. As far as the basketball goes, I think Stewie, now having played in the WNBA, even though she doesn’t have a lot of international experience, she’s ready. For a lot of the players on this team, who haven’t really played in an Olympics, they’ve had a ton of experience other places, so I think everyone is ready.
On playing in her fourth Olympics:
I’ve been saying this when this question comes up, I just feel really lucky. There’s a huge sense of understanding in that it takes a lot to get to a fourth Olympics. It has nothing to do with anything in your control. Obviously, you have to stay on top of your game and be ready, but so much can happen in someone’s career that can derail. So I just feel really lucky and fortunate that I even have this opportunity to be honest.
On playing in Connecticut:
I think any time we’re with this team and we’re in the northeast, it’s going to feel like that, and rightfully so. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s great to see familiar faces. It’s great to be around familiar faces every day, and it just makes it more fun and more enjoyable,
Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)
Thoughts heading into the Olympics – on and off the court:
I know everybody is coming for us. No country, no team is going to roll over and just give it to us. We’re going to have to go and take it. We have to take our best ball on both ends of the floor.
As far as Opening Ceremony and things like that, I don’t know. I’m just excited to experience my first Olympics. So, I’m kind of wide-eyed and taking it all in. But when we step on the court, I know what to do. I know how to play. I just have to go out there and do what I do best.
Everyone knows the USA is the best team heading into the Olympics, how does it feel to be a part of it?
Just to have the opportunity to be a part of the U.S. Olympic Team is an honor. So many athletes before us have set the standard of how to play at every sport. I just want to continue in their footsteps and keep that standard of play the same.
Are there any athletes you really want to meet?
There are events I really want to go to. I really want to go to gymnastics. I really want to see diving. I can’t swim, so anything dealing with the pool and swimming, I think is amazing. So, those are the two that I really want to see. Of course going to support our men’s basketball team as well.
What veterans have you looked to and what advice have you received?
Of course I look to Dee, my teammate in Phoenix. Of course, Sue, Catch, and advice from those guys was to just do what you do best. Do the little things and everything else will come to you. And take it all in. Take it all in and enjoy it.
Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
How has the Olympic experience been for you?
It’s been great. To be able to be here, to be able to be with this team, back under coach (Auriemma), it’s been a lot of fun, a learning experience. It seems like we are getting better each day.
On being alongside so many UConn players and coach Auriemma:
We have a lot of UConn connections, but it’s funny, because I have never played with any them at UConn. I play with Sue with the Storm and that kind of thing. It’s cool to learn from them. And just to see what they’ve done at UConn and now what they are continuing to do.
How is the team’s chemistry?
I think each day we are getting better and better. I think that off the court, it definitely comes faster than on the court. People’s personalities seem to just fit together. And with our limited court time, we are seeing what players like to do, what they don’t like to do. Some of us have played together in other National Team tours in the fall, or World Championships and that kind of thing.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On playing in Connecticut:
In 2014, I think we played here, too, but we didn’t get to see the atmosphere. It was actually really, really good, because we don’t do a lot of home games as a national team. Being in Delaware last night felt like a home game. I’m sure tomorrow and at the Garden, it’s going to be pro-American, which is kind of nice, because we’re usually on the other end of that.
On the Canada game tomorrow night:
We know they’re a tough, gritty team. We’ve played them a number of times. Obviously, they have WNBA talent. They have European talent. They probably have the best point guard in college right now. They’re a good team, and they showed it against Australia last night. It’s probably one of the top two teams in the world, so it’s going to be a tough game. Our goal is to focus on ourselves and get better. We’ve only been together four days. To get better every possession, and if we do that, we’ve succeeded.
On improving tomorrow:
It’s little things, being on the same page. That just comes from playing with each other a little bit more. Offensively, spacing, making sure we don’t get in each other’s way. Communication always covers up any mistake, and we’re getting better at that. And I think in the second half we did a lot better job, and you could see it.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
On preparing for the Olympics:
It’s been good. Just getting back, everybody getting used to what we have to do to be really successful on this team, and it’s been really good. We had a couple of good days in LA, an up and down game against our Select Team, then a good second half against France. I felt like we got a lot better and we put some work in against a really good French team.
On traveling all the time in preparation for the Olympics:
You’ve just got to be a pro. You’ve got to be mentally prepared. It’ something different that we have to do. A lot of us have been through it before. You get a lot of team bonding, you get a lot of time to get to know each other, and it makes for a really fun atmosphere when it’s all said and done. I remember the last time, four years ago, after a month together, you really gain a lot of admiration and respect for everybody on the team. Right now, we’re still laying the groundwork for what it’s going to take and what it’s going to be like for everyone this year.
On the town hall in LA:
It was nice to see that more steps were taken, and it wasn’t just that we wore our shirts. The discussion is continuing to grow, and I think that’s good and it’s positive. So, it’s good to see the NBA guys, along with the police officers and people from the community that were there. It’s cool to see how it all came together. Tamika gave an amazing speech. Her and Carmelo did a great job.