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USA Basketball Women's National Team Practice Quotes

  • Date:
    Sep 4, 2018

Dawn Staley (USA and University of South Carolina head coach)
What can fans expect to see in the Red-White game?
These are the best players in the world, whether it is on the collegiate level, the Olympic level, the WNBA level, the pro level. So, what you are going to see is self-motivation. On the court, you are going to see 10 players working as hard as they can on each possession, trying to out-fox each other, trying to out-compete each other, trying to out-execute each other. And when that kind of magic happens on the floor, our fans will instantly fall in love with the play that is out there on the floor. 

What is the goal for the Red-White game?
The goal is for us to continue to get better, no matter what players are out there performing whatever duties, we need to continue to get better. I thought from day one to day two, we progressed. Day three, although it is a game, it is time to put all of those things together and execute. Because, big picture, we have to win the World Cup in the next three weeks. So, we can’t take days off, and we can’t move backwards. Everything has to be full steam ahead and not look back and kind of learn on the fly, because we don’t have a whole lot of time to prep. And, I do think we did that with the players in camp.

What will it mean for you to have the Red-White game at your home arena?
I will be kind of overseeing at this point. I just kind of want to sit back and see what players can help us, just be an evaluator, but also be a fan, too. Because, I want our fans to enjoy this environment and see the players who will represent our country in the World Cup and more than likely some of them will represent us in the Olympic Games. I don’t think that has ever been done here on the campus of South Carolina.

Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun)
How have the two days of training camp been so far for you?
It’s been fun. It’s been different being one of the older players. Obviously, with Tina and Nneka having the most experience, and then Odyssey and myself being the veterans out here at USA Basketball. It’s a really weird feeling. It’s kind of unique in that way. But, it’s been awesome to be able to step into that leadership role here.

Have you seen a difference from yesterday and today in terms of flow and cohesiveness?
That first day is always a little sloppy because we’re all getting to know each other, we’re all so excited and the adrenaline is pouring through us. Today was a much better day where I thought we ran our offense a little better, we competed better and slowed down. It was generally better basketball today.

What should fans expect to see in the Sept. 5 Red-White game?
They should expect to see us working hard, playing hard. People are going to see a lot of talent on the floor, and a lot of young talent with the college players and the younger players who will push the next generation. It’s a good wave to see, what USA Basketball is going to keep looking like in the future.

Five-time Olympic medalist Teresa Edwards addressed the team after practice. What did she have to say and what resonated with you the most?
It was powerful. It definitely gave me the chills listening to her talk about not taking this moment for granted and how powerful it is to stand in that circle and be around greatness. How a lot of times you don’t realize it in the moment, because you’re just living it, you’re struggling, camp is hard, you’re grinding and trying to do your best. But, she said to really realize it and not to take this moment for granted. And, to realize that we’re standing on wide shoulders that people like her and Dawn (Staley), and so many others have built before us. That’s a big weight to carry, but a big responsibility and a great opportunity to be here. And, she talked about how she’s flying on our wings now as we keep taking it forward. It was just really inspiring to hear.

Napheesa Collier (University of Connecticut)
Was today’s practice a bit cleaner overall, do you think?
For sure. Just the group getting used to each other and how we play, and getting in the groove of things as a team, I think that made today a lot cleaner than yesterday.

How has your adjustment been playing against the older, more physical players?
There are a few more college players here than other times that I’ve been with this group, but the biggest adjustment for us is learning so much of the system and plays so quickly. We have to try to pick that up really fast. Obviously, how physical the older girls are – we have to try to match their intensity and physicality.

Who of the older players has been particularly helpful for you?
I have been on a team with Tina (Charles) in both practices, so she talks to me a lot. She’s definitely been the most helpful for me.

Who has been the toughest to play against in the post?
I had to guard Morgan (Tuck) today – A’ja (Wilson), too. Whenever I play in the post, they are just so much stronger than me. It’s pretty tough for me to try to keep up with them.

Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky)
How have the two days of training camp been so far for you? Has it been different as one of the more veteran players?
It’s been fun. I especially like the young, young ones, the college players who are here, to kind of see what they’re made of. It’s always different to see them play in college and then to see them here with USA Basketball. So, they’ve been competing. The rookies from the WNBA that are here have been competing. Everyone’s been playing really hard, and it’s been fun.

What have you done differently to prepare for the camp, and what have you been doing to try to make this team?
For me, I’m just doing what I’m good at. Everyone’s here for different reasons. Everyone’s good at different things. Mine may not always be scoring 20 points, but I’m here, I play hard on defense, I get people open, I rebound, so I’m just trying to do that. I’m trying to do what I’m good at and show (the selection committee) that I’m a great teammate and I represent USA Basketball well.

How much fun will the Red-White game be on Sept. 5?
I remember (in the Red-White game) four years ago it was fun. It was competitive. It gets gritty because obviously no one wants to lose. We all want to win. And these last two days of scrimmaging have been like that. We want to win. So, I’m excited to put on a little show for the fans. I’m excited to play with these girls, and I’m looking forward to it.

Five-time Olympic medalist Teresa Edwards addressed the team after practice. What did she have to say and what resonated with you the most?
She said a lot. A lot of really intense and important things. I’ve never met her before, so to hear her speak was just incredible. I said she should have just dropped the mic, because everything was so inspirational. It really showed us why we’re here and why we should never take it for granted having USA on our chests. It’s important for us, but it’s especially important for the younger players to realize that this is a dream of a lot of players and not everyone gets this chance to be here. So, never take it for granted.

Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever)
In April, you were one of the youngest players at camp, but now after a WNBA season, do you feel a little more seasoned?
Oh, for sure. I don’t feel like the youngest, but I know I’m still young. I’m only one year in, and the college girls are only one year behind me. It feels good though. I feel more seasoned in terms of style of play and what they are looking for. I think that little bit of experience kind of picks me up.

How’s it been playing with some different veterans at the guard position?
It’s been great. Odyssey (Sims) is one of those people that always competes at a high level. You just have to match that, enjoy that and embrace it. Having guards like her out here and seeing that competitive spirit is always good.

Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks)
What do you remember about the Red-White game four years ago?
Playing with USA Basketball is always a blessing and a great opportunity. I think every time I learn something different. And four years ago playing, I just remember the experience. Not so much playing-wise – I’m always happy to put on a USA jersey, but the experience, learning from the vets. 

What advice do you have?
The younger group, I would just tell them to go heard every possession, never take plays off. Like Teresa (Edwards) said, don’t ever take the opportunity for granted, because it can slip away from you at any given time, and you never know. The committee is always watching body language, how you talk to people, how you respond, all of those keys to making the team.

What are you focused on as you compete for a roster spot?
Just to give it my all, give it 100 percent every day on offense and defense, lead my team and make sure I get my teammates in the right spot and just getting a feel for everybody.

 

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