USA Women’s National Team Practice Quotes
Lead coach Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx)
What was it like to get back out here with the USA team and what are you doing to keep USA head coach Dawn Staley informed of how things are going?
Before we got here, I touched base with Dawn to make sure that we’re doing the same thing that Dawn would do. Obviously, we’re putting our touches on it, but it’s all about winning. That’s what we talked about. Dawn’s message was, ‘do what’s necessary to win the game.’ So, getting everybody here, for the players it’s good. There is no time, there is no three to four days of lead-up to a game. It’s one practice and then we’re going to go play against a really good basketball team. The four college teams are all in the top 10 and there’s a challenge that goes with that. So, I think we had a pretty good focused preparation at a competitive level that would be appropriate to prepare. It was fun to get them out there. For some of them, it was returning to the floor for the first time in a while. It was good to see what they looked like.
What do you expect out of the opponents?
It’ll be valuable time spent if we take it one team at a time. We’re probably more well-versed on Stanford right now. It’s a really nice mix of veterans like Williams and Carrington, and I know that Tara’s pretty high on the recruiting class that they have. They’ve spent about two months together and are probably a well-oiled machine. It’ll be good to see how they’re blending. Obviously, our players are pro players and that’s a whole other level that to try to match. Hopefully we can bring that and make it difficult for the young guns.
When you go to Oregon State, you know you have a to play a tough, defensive team that’s going to pack the paint, Pivec is really good, Slocum is really good. You just move through the teams and there are a ton of really good, WNBA-caliber players. So, it’ll be a really valuable time for us to be up close and competing against them.
Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx)
On being back on the court with the USA team:
It felt great. It felt great to be back out here. Obviously, it’s a different atmosphere, as far as playing against the college teams, but there are some familiar faces, some new faces, that we’re going to all kind of merge together and try to get some chemistry before going into tomorrow’s game.
Is there anyone you’re looking forward to playing among these four college teams?
I already said, when Fran (Belibi) gets a breakaway, I’m out of the way. If I see her coming down the lane, I’m moving out of the way. Obviously, we know what she can do when she gets up in the air. Texas A&M, with Chennedy Carter, she’s got some stuff with her so I’m definitely looking forward to that game, as well as the Oregon game with Sabrina (Ionescu). So, it’s a lot of great talent that we’re going to see soon in the WNBA. So, it’ll be great to see how well they play against us pros, see what their basketball IQ is, athleticism, kind of test them out, give them a dry run before seeing some of them enter the league over the next couple of years.
Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
Your legacy is already cemented. What do you hope to get out of playing in one more Olympics?
I think it’s two-fold. There’s an aspect of it where, as a competitive athlete, this doesn’t last forever. And if you can play and you can play at a high level, why wouldn’t you do that? That’s kind of where I fall. If I was on a half a leg, if I felt that I couldn’t contribute, that would be a different scenario. But because I’m standing here now, feeling like I can, I definitely want to go for another gold medal, represent my country, play in the WNBA still, all that good stuff that comes with it. That’s first and foremost. Without that, nothing else will follow. So, because I feel good, I feel comfortable and confident in telling you that I want to finish out my career on my own terms.
The second part of that? It’s kind of what you said – I’m at a point where you talk about gold medals and you talk about the WNBA and the future of it, the CBA, everything under that umbrella, I’m not going to benefit from it. But I can leave a mark and I can definitely use my experience and share my voice in that way. So, I can hopefully help the younger generations. I joke, I like to say I hope I’m one of those old, disgruntled, 50-year-old retired players who are like, ‘I didn’t make a million. That’s ridiculous, they’re making a million dollars?!’ I hope that’s me. Because that means I helped.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
How are you feeling?
It’s been a longer road than I thought it was going to be. I’m still not there, but every day is getting better. It’s getting to the point where I feel 100%. A day like this makes me feel good, where I can go through a whole practice with these guys, compete against a practice squad and those are the next little steps. I’m in the baby step phase right now in getting back to where I want to go and that’s to still play at a high level, still be able to compete and to me, that’s an everyday struggle right now.
You started off in 2004, coming off the national championship, knowing you were going to be the No. 1 pick and joining the USA National Team. Do you ever look back on that?
Absolutely. When you’ve been in any profession for a long, you go through cycles of looking back on your career, reminiscing on where I want to go or what I’ve done. You know, I’m done with all of that. Every single day is like a new little chapter for me. I’m glad we have this USA tour or else I’d be home, rehabbing on the PT table, playing HORSE with one of my good friends at home. This is good for me, personally, to come out and be in this setting because this setting brings out the best in you.
Are there any college players you’re looking forward to playing against?
If you look at the four schools we’re playing against, they probably have top five, top two picks in certain cases. Stanford’s got a pair of guards who I think are amazing. I loved watching them playing in the tournament last year and this year they’re going to have a heck of a year. Obviously, Sabrina (Ionescu) is someone who has so much to her on the court. She plays so hard, so intense and they’ve got a couple of other kids who are obviously going to be first round draft picks.
Oregon State is actually a team I love watching play. Their two guards, I just love how competitive they are. So, you know you’re going to be playing against some really good players.
On the inspiration behind this expanded training program:
We did a little bit of this ahead of 2008 where we did a college tour going into China (fall 2007) and that was coming off a bronze medal at the Worlds in 2006. Sometimes you need a little slap in the face to get you back into gear. I think it was kind of more of (a thought of) let’s do it before that happens. Let’s get together and make sure we’re all on the same page going into Tokyo, no matter who’s going to be on that team. We know that in eight months a lot can happen – injuries, players, people playing well, so I think this is great for a lot of players to come in and show what they have.