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USA Basketball Women’s National Team Post-Practice Quotes (8/6/16)

  • Date:
    Aug 6, 2016

USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
On starting play:
That’s one thing they’re really anxious to do. There’s only so much watching film you can do, so much practice, they’re ready for the games and they want to start playing. I’m glad we’re playing back-to-back, because we need to be in game mode and I think that’s going to get us there.

It’s the only back-to-backs that we have, the first two (games) and then it’s every other day. I think they would prefer back-to-backs every day, so they wouldn’t have to come over and practice (laughs). But once we settle in, starting tomorrow, everything’s going to be good.

On Brittney Griner’s shot-blocking ability and her goal to own the USA’s blocked shots records:
The one thing the big kids fail to do sometimes; they don’t see the value of keeping their hands up all the time. The thing about it, Brittney’s 6-7, 6-8, whatever she is, when she puts her hands up, she’s 7-foot-6. That’s a big difference. So, as the tournament goes on, I think you’ll see her get even better and better defensively.

Are you looking forward to starting Olympic play tomorrow?
Yeah, we were just saying that there are only so many practices that you can have and we haven’t had that many. But, they’ve been waiting four years. I think they’re anxious, they’re excited, they want to hurry up and get going. The fact that we have two games back-to-back, I think is the best thing. It’ll get us right away into game mode.

USA assistant coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina)
On Senegal, the USA's opening opponent:
Senegal will look to push the ball up the floor by passing ahead to posts or guards in transition. Other than that, they want to set up a half-court offense where they have a certain look that they want. They certainly want to get their guards great looks from the outside, or drive it hard to the basket. Their posts are their utility players: screeners, rebounders, and they run the floor. They’re led by their guard play, so it’s important for them to play well in order for them to be successful.

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On starting Olympic play tomorrow:
For a week and a half there, it felt like all we were doing was playing games, but then we finally got a chance to practice and iron things out. And now we’re all itching to play games again. We are all really excited for tomorrow and of course it’s a chance for us to set the tone for the entire tournament.

You went to your fourth Opening Ceremony. Did you take it all in differently?
I didn’t really take it differently, other than when you know what to expect, you kind of know what to look for. What made this one a little different, maybe a little better than the other ones, was when we came out of the tunnel onto the track, you actually walked through the center of the entire field. So, instead of immediately hanging a right and walking around the track, you went through the center, they created a path right through the middle of it all. That was a different perspective on the whole thing. So you walk in and I looked back and you could just see the entire arena, all the people in the building, all over the sides. So, it was a really cool perspective. A different perspective.

Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky)
How did it feel to take part in the Opening Ceremonies yesterday?
It was incredible. Some of the veterans warned us that it was going to be an amazing feeling, but they couldn’t prepare us for what it felt like walking into that building with all those people. They were cheering for us, and a bunch of people were chanting USA. It was really special.

Will that feeling stay with you through tomorrow until you play?
Definitely. That type of energy, you can’t even explain. So many people are behind us. It just shows the magnitude of these games. We are just so excited We finally get to play tomorrow.

Did you meet anyone that you were excited about?
I saw Serena (Williams). I saw Michael Phelps. We were with the men (basketball team) most of the time. It was just awesome to see all of the incredible athletes that represent Team USA.

How are the men’s and women’s basketball team interacting? They are great guys. Really friendly, so we are like a family.

Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)
How did it feel to take part in your third Olympic Opening Ceremony yesterday?
I got tired in the beginning, but once we got in that tunnel, and everybody starting screaming USA, I was back wide awake. I was happy to see all of the people and the crowd screaming USA and all of the other teams.

Did you meet anyone that you were excited about?
I took a picture with Serena (Williams), and I took a picture with Michael Phelps, so I’m extrememly happy about that.

Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)
Do you intend to dunk during one of the games?
If I can get one, I’m going to try to get one for sure, but I’m not going to force the issue. I like blocking shots better. Everybody else loves the dunks, but I like blocking shots better.

On Opening Ceremony:
It was amazing. Just seeing all of the people that were there and all of the different countries. It was just a lot of fun. It’s just a different experience. I can’t wait to look at all of the film I got.

Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
How did it feel to take part in the Opening Ceremony yesterday?
It was actually really amazing, just to be able to be with all of the other athletes and see how many of us are representing Team USA. And then, walking out of the tunnel, hearing the crowd get excited. And then throughout our walk around, constantly people wanted us to wave at them, take pictures with them, chanting USA. It was really cool to be a part of it. I’ve watched it on TV so many times, and now to be here and actually be a part of it feels like, now it’s real that we are starting the Olympic Games and it’s really here.

It was just an adrenaline rush walking in there. Probably if you asked any of the athletes, you could be ready to play after walking into the stadium. It really just sets the tone for what’s to come.

Did you meet anyone that you were excited about?
We saw Michael Phelps, saw Serena Williams and that was really cool. I was looking for Usain Bolt, and I don’t think he was there.

Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
What was the Opening Ceremony like last night?
It was cool because it was my second, so I knew a little more about what to expect. I got to meet a lot of athletes who I probably wouldn’t have if I didn’t know where to go or what to do. So, I got to meet Serena, which was really cool. Just being a part of it all is really cool. Seeing Michael Phelps represent with the flag was awesome. Being there with the team was the best part for sure.

On starting play tomorrow:
I felt like everybody had a ton of energy today at practice, which was cool. Now we have the afternoon to rest and get ready for tomorrow. We start with the back-to-backs, so we need everybody to go out there and play as hard as they can and do their thing. It’s definitely been a fun week. It’s really good to get here, to get into a routine with practice, and be set where we’re going to stay, and now the games actually start, which is why we’re here. It should be a really good start. We need a really good start. It should be a lot of fun.

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