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Dawn Staley

Additional Quotes: WNBA All-Stars 93, USA 85

  • Date:
    Jul 14, 2021

Box Score & Play-by-Play

Game Recap

USA head coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina)
Thoughts on the game:
I thought we got off to a pretty decent start on both sides of the basketball. And then throughout the game the habits that we did not create yet were not in place. So, defensively we’ve got our work cut out for us. Offensively, we’ve got to get some more chemistry and work together a little bit and learn each other’s tendencies. We got beat by a good basketball team. The WNBA All-Stars are great players and they played with nothing to lose. When you play against that, and when you have a USA team that’s trying to prep for something bigger than that particular game, you end up losing the basketball game. It’s not something that we were planning to do. But, it’s part of our journey, part of our process and we’ve got to bear down and get better quickly.

NOTE: USA Basketball athletes were in press conferences in twos. The remainder of the quote page is listed by conferences.

  1. Sue Bird & Diana Taurasi
  2. Skylar Diggins-Smith & Brittney Griner

With having such a limited time to get together, how hard is it to try and develop chemistry? How long does it normally take for chemistry, or do you feel like you had a disadvantage only having limited time?
TAURASI: We are still a work-in-progress. This team has never been together before. We had one practice yesterday and I think like you said we had some really nice moments and we had moments where you can tell we had never played together and those are the things that this week here, with these three games and you know a couple days going into Tokyo, those things will get better. Obviously, you always want to win the game but at the end of the day we are here for a bigger goal than to win an All-Star Game. We'll get better as time goes.

Obviously, you have not had many losses in exhibition games, and you won't see a team as good as this in the Olympics. What do you take from tonight for Tokyo?
BIRD: I think in any exhibition game you're really just trying to learn something about yourself and learn something about the team and how we're going to put it all together and I think D said it, this was just, in some ways, like another practice for us because those are the moments that you find out what you need to work on. For the coaches, they are going to figure out how the group is most cohesive, which five on the floor at different times work best. These are things that take -- and this has always been the challenge of USA Basketball. We have said this ad nauseam, these things usually take a whole training camp or months or years and we always try to do it in a matter of days or weeks. This was just the first step. Of course, you know, we want to win all the games. It's not the first exhibition game we've lost and like I said and like you said we are just going to learn from it and move on. Congratulations to the WNBA team. They played great and hopefully it was a good show for everybody.

You're veterans of multiple Olympics, but this Olympics in particular, most of the elite athletes from the United States are women. What does that say about the advancement of women’s athletics in America and how proud are you to be part of that growth?
TAURASI: I guess it's kind of nice that they finally took some notice.

BIRD: That's what I was going to say. Even last Olympics, didn't the U.S. women out-medal some countries, if memory serves? So maybe the issue is they are not getting the coverage they deserve. I don't think it's been all of a sudden, you know, women in the U.S. are elite at what they do athletically.

You said earlier one of the goals for these types of games is to learn something about this team that's never played together before. What did you learn about yourselves tonight?
BIRD: I think we learned we're not a team yet. Dee said it, we’ve had one practice and this group has never played together before. We learned it's never as simple as throwing 12 of the best out there and it just clicks. That's never been the case. It has not been the case in any Olympics that we've played in and it was a good reminder of that. It was also a good reminder that everybody is always going to want to take us down, so you've got to be ready for that.

What are you looking to learn from head coach Dawn Staley as far as just moving this team along individually, as well, to better your games?
TAURASI: We're just a work-in-progress right now and that's a good thing. We always talk about when we get together with USA Basketball, it's never easy. The end result always seems like the road is smooth, but it's not. You know, like I was saying, you don't want to peak too early. We've got a long way to go, which is a good thing for us.

You both said this has been more competitive than other All-Star Games. How competitive was it out there?
BIRD: It was really competitive. It was really competitive. Definitely not a typical All-Star Game. Usually, you talk to players and we talk about putting on a good show and having a good time and hopefully the fans enjoy it. But this right from the tip felt different. It had an intensity about it, and I think you could tell. That's why you're asking that question.

Knowing how competitive both of you are on the floor, is it more difficult to take this as a loss or is it something that you enjoy playing because it was the All-Star Game this year?
GRINER: Definitely hate losing. I don't think anybody on this team will enjoy tonight. We are all going to think about different things that each and every one of us could have done a little bit better. But we've had just one practice, so just bear with us. We're going to get back in the lab tomorrow and fix some things that we didn't do so well in the game. But I think we're going to be fine. We're going to be fine.

DIGGINS-SMITH: Like we talked about at the beginning, there's going to be all these storylines whether we want them or not. We still have the same goal, and that's to win a gold medal. We go back to our preparation and we're going to get ready for the next game and we're going to continue to try to get better every day.

You had the short amount of time with practices and being together and building chemistry. Are there any positives you can take from tonight's game moving forward as you guys continue to build practice and get ready for the Olympics?
GRINER: I think on offense, we had really good looks. I think it's more on the defensive end where we can definitely improve, rebounding, second-chance points, hustle plays. I definitely would take that from this game.

DIGGINS-SMITH: For sure. And you have to give credit to the other side. They were playing free and playing like an All-Star Game, and we are trying to get our chemistry together on both ends of the floor. We know offensively we have enough in that locker room, and everybody can do everything that needs to be done on offense, but just continuing to gain our chemistry on defense.

Did you feel the intensity of more of a regular game as opposed to a fun All-Star Game?
GRINER: It was fun, but your mindset was definitely different from your typical All-Star Game, where it's all offense and hardly any defense. We have different things in the front of our mind that we know we're here to do. We know we're here to get prepared and have a goal. It's not your typical "have fun and throw up some shots." We are here to work. It's definitely a different feel than a typical All-Star Game.

Skylar, you’ve always said that the U.S. can have three teams that could medal. Obviously that team over there, not everyone is a U.S. player, but that's a really talented team you lost to.
DIGGINS-SMITH: We lost to All-Stars. We have a lot of players in our league that are capable. It's the toughest league to get into and stay into. I say it all the time. Yeah, hats off to them. Got to give credit. They played hard, made shots. Like I said, we're just focused on us and how we can do better and how we can continue to get better and prepare for Tokyo.

The growth of women's sports has been amazing over the last several years, and most of the elite teams and the elite athletes going to Tokyo are women. What does that say about the growth of women's sports and popularity of women's sports? Is there a pride there?
DIGGINS-SMITH: It's always inspirational. I'm always inspired by women and people that do things that I can't do. It's amazing watching some of the best.

The Americans are representing throughout different sports, and hopefully we can represent USA Basketball and we can bring the gold home.

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