USA World Cup Team Practice Quotes
USA head coach Dawn Staley
Is this team where you wanted it to be headed into the first game?
Today was our first real practice that we’ve had since we named the team. I thought they came out ready to learn and ready to execute game plans. It feels like a little bit more pressure in that we are close to the games. But these players, this is what the play the game for – to play it at the highest stage. It doesn’t matter who is coaching, they are going to come out and play and execute on both sides of the ball. I just got to get out of the way.
Are you personally excited?
I am excited. It is a little bit different than four years ago when I was an assistant coach. When you are a head coach, you embrace the pressure , and you got to take that that pressure comes with this job of being the head coach. I’m focused. I’m ready. I think we got a pretty good game plan in, not only for Senegal but for the rest of the tournament. We just have to keep the irons hot and not take it off, because we had very little preparation as a 12-member group.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
How are you leading this team heading into your fifth FIBA World Cup?
I just have a lot of experience at this point, more than anything. Basketball is basketball. But, if you can help a team come together quickly, that’s really important. So, myself, Diana (Taurasi), some of the other players have experience with that, meaning some of the other players have experience with jumping into games without a lot of practice time, I think it helps. You’re not as uncomfortable as maybe some of the newer players are. So, we try to make them as comfortable as possible.
Four years ago you said that it just means you’re old that you’ve competed in four World Cups. Now you’re heading into your fifth. How do you look at that?
It still means I’m old. Just a little older (laughs).
How much does it help the chemistry, having the three of you from the Storm among the four last members to join the team?
So, what I think I learned from the last couple of competitions, both Worlds and Olympics, was when we had four Minnesota Lynx players on the floor, things seemed to flow a little bit better. And that’s just being used to each other. So, I think that with the Seattle three, that could be the same. If you put me and Diana out there, it flows. There’s a comfort level there. It touches on what I was just saying, that the hardest part is just getting comfortable. So, if you have players who already have it, it can be valuable to everyone out there.
Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm)
What is it like, after coming off the WNBA Finals, to be getting ready for your first FIBA World Cup game tomorrow?
For us, it’s a really quick turnaround. You come off such a big high and you’re excited. You’ve accomplished so much in the WNBA season. And then coming to USA Basketball, it’s another journey. You kind of have to put it in the past and get focused with what you’re trying to do here with the USA team. I’m excited. It’s my first time at this level, with this team. So, I’m excited, a little bit nervous, but at the same time I’m super excited about the veterans we have on this team.
You said it was the first time playing at this level, but that’s not quite true. You won gold at the 2014 FIBA 3x3 World Cup:
3x3 is super-fun. It was a cool experience. You grow up playing in the parks, and there’s always 3x3 basketball playing, so that’s always fun to do that. And going to Russia for the 3x3 World Cup, that was a fantastic time. That’s a memory I will never forget. So, it’s kind of cool to now be on the five-on-five side and get a chance to maybe do it again.
How have you gotten up to speed to prepare for the team’s opening game against Senegal on Sept. 22?
We talked about it today, we’ll probably see a lot of zone. For us, we just have to be able to execute our offensive scheme as well as defensively. We worked on a lot of execution stuff today. They gave us the scouting report. I’ll ask a lot more questions tonight. I have to make sure I understand what we’re doing first, because today was my first real practice here. So, I’m trying to get acclimated as fast as possible and then get ready to go for tomorrow.
Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)
How are you feeling after your quick turnaround?
It feels better than when I first got here. I think having that scrimmage against Australia right away helped me acclimate and get onto a schedule for this time zone. Anytime you are here, it doesn’t matter if you are tired. You just have to put it all out on the floor.
Do you know what your role will be on this team?
I think my role is going to continue to be aggressive on the court and use my international experience to my advantage, having played in a world championship and Olympics before, and doing what I can. Obviously, we have a lot of great players, so it’s not like there is that much pressure on everybody’s shoulders.
The USA will be in the hunt to earn a 10th World Cup gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain. Follow along on the team’s journey on usab.com and through USA Basketball’s social media as the team goes for gold.