USA Women's National Team Practice Quotes
USA head coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina)
Can you wrap up camp?
It was a great camp. We appreciate all the players who came, who were committed and sacrificed time away from their families to help us prepare. Now the numbers are down to where it’s little bit more manageable. We’re looking to fine-tune some things on both sides of the ball. We get to add Diana (Taurasi) and Brittney (Griner) to the fold. So, two more seasoned vets will help us prep a little more in France, and then we’re onto to the Worlds.
What were you working on today for your final practice in the USA?
We worked a lot of ball-screen defense, because we feel like we’re going to see that a lot throughout the tournament. We’re playing it different ways. Japan posed a little bit of a different challenge in that we couldn’t have our rotations in place. But, we can’t forget about the rotations, because other teams will play a little bit different style. And then, just executing offensively. We put in a couple more sets in order to give our players an opportunity to utilize the things that they do best.
Canada, Senegal and France are up next for you. What are your thoughts on the upcoming exhibition tournament?
These are the types of tournaments that are good leading into the Worlds. The teams that are there, Senegal, Canada and France, will all pose different challenges for us. The good thing about it is, we’ll get a couple of practices under our belt with 12 players. It’s hard to prep 14, 15 players. It’s hard to get them into a game. So, I think it’ll be more like what we’ll see as far as rotations. Although we’re still looking to fill a couple of spots on the roster, it gives us a great opportunity to play a lot of different people for more minutes than we’ve played over the past week.
There are 10 days to go before the World Cup tips off. Is that a little shocking that it’s so close?
It is! When you’re in preparation, you just have your head to the ground. You don’t really think about the days. But when you just said that, it gets a little under your skin somewhat, because you feel like you need some more days to prepare somewhat. But, we’re adding two players who have been through several World Cups, and we want to make sure that they lend their familiarity with playing in a high-stakes, international competition, especially for some of the young ones.
Tina Charles (New York Liberty)
What are your thoughts on the team as it wraps up the domestic portion of training camp?
We know there will be another cut before we go to Spain, but everybody here is just happy to be here, trying to execute everything and do all of the things that the coaches are asking them to do.
Is this group ready for the three exhibition games in France?
If we learned anything from the first two exhibition games against Canada and Japan, it’s that when you have USA on, everyone is going to play their best game against you. It is just who can outlast the other team for 40 minutes. I think that is what we’ve been able to do coming back in the fourth quarter and coming out with the victory.
You were on the team that lost to France in exhibition in 2014. Do you remember that experience?
I do remember. We were in Paris. We had a lot of players, and the coaches were trying to get a lot of players out there. Sometimes, you are shoring up the rotation, like we did against Canada, in order to come with the victory. But, France is a good team. We have a lot of respect for every team that we play against. We don’t underestimate anyone, and we know they are going to bring their best.
Do you expect a different kind of game against Canada the second time around?
I played alongside Kia Nurse in New York, so I know she is going to come out and play her game. We just have to watch film and learn from the things we didn’t do – execute better, get out in transition and limit our turnovers.
Napheesa Collier (University of Connecticut)
You came out here at the beginning of training camp thinking you would only be here three days. And you’re still here. How has this process been for you, and did you pack enough clothes?
I packed really lightly. I need to wash things really often. (laughs)
It’s just been an amazing experience. I came here knowing that I’m not expected to make it. So, I just played as hard as I could, because the worst that could happen would be that they send me home, which was expected anyway. So, I’m just trying to work as hard as I can and do all the hustle plays, all the little things, everything they ask of me.
You’ve been to a couple training camps and played for coach Dawn Staley at the 2015 U19 World Cup. Does that help with your familiarity with her style of coaching?
Yes, for sure. It’s always hard playing with a new coach, but since I played for her at the U19s, it’s kind of like going back to then. I even had her before I was with my coach in college now. So, it’s pretty cool to be back with her.
There are 10 days to go before the World Cup. Do you feel a sense of urgency or is it a little different because the team’s not been finalized yet?
Both. I am really excited to still be around and we have so many new people coming, I think there is a little bit of a sense of urgency, because we have to learn how to play with them, too. Because we’ve been playing together for a week and a half now, so adding all the new people, especially the awesome players who are coming, they’re talented players, so we’re going to have to really work hard to mesh correctly.
There have been past instances of college players on a World Cup team. Does that make you feel a little more confident that you could be next?
It would be amazing. That’s the goal here. So, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, working hard and try to do everything they ask of me. Hopefully, as coach Staley says, my number is called and I get to go.
Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever)
What are your thoughts on being named as a finalist for the World Cup team?
It means a lot. I’m trying to make the best of the opportunity, even if it is not going my way. I’m soaking everything in, learning. I’m definitely grateful to be here.
What are you focused on showing the selection committee?
A lot of it is soaking in the information, and then going in and applying it. And then, kind of just being myself. You can get so caught up in trying to be perfect, perfect. Dawn Staley told me, ‘It’s not a perfect game. Just be who you are.’ So, I’m trying to get my wheels turning on that.
Do you feel like one of the younger players?
Definitely off the court I feel like a younger player. They do a lot of stuff that I don’t understand yet. I’m young from that standpoint. But, on the court, I would say I try my best to blend in. So, I don’t really feel like I’m younger.
What things off the court do the vets do you haven’t incorporated yet?
Not necessarily eating healthy, because I’m not a terrible eater myself. But, it’s stuff like going to bed early and stretching right after practice. I was talking to Layshia, and she was like, ‘I got to get my stretching in.’ It’s different to see. It’s a little funny, but you applaud them for taking it that serious.
Do you think you will start doing some of those things?
Yeah, for sure, if I want to play as long as they have been playing.
How is training camp overall?
From South Carolina to here, it’s been rocky, from the standpoint of you are trying to get your wheels turning on so much information. I’m trying to go out there and play basketball without thinking about it so much, but I think I’m learning and finding my way. I’m definitely grateful that they gave me the opportunity. Hopefully I do something with it.
On playing three more exhibition games in France:
I definitely want to apply what they have taught me and what I have learned so far.
Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun)
How is training camp going?
I think everyone is just excited, especially, most of us here, we are not for sure on the team. So, we are just excited to have the opportunity to keep going. We are trying to make sure that we are focused and make the most of the opportunity.
What things are you focused on doing as you try to make the final roster?
For me, it is just doing the little things. Everyone here can play. Everyone can score. I don’t think that is what I have to try and focus on. I’m focused on doing all the little things – rebounding, running hard, using my IQ and just making sure that I’m doing everything possible to help us win.
On playing Canada a second time:
I think the biggest difference will be the way we play. We had a really, really rough start to our first game against Canada, and we definitely learned from it. Seeing them again, we are almost the same teams, but we are down in numbers, so I think we will have a better flow.
On the three exhibition games in France:
Even though it is technically still training camp, the exhibition games kind of get you out of that mindset, and you really are more in a game-time, competition mindset. I think that is going to help, because the flow will be better. It’s not about, ‘Okay, we have to see everybody at this position and this position,’ it’s more just trying to fine tune.
If you make the team, great. If not, then you did what you can to help.