Friday, October 23rd, 2020

USA Basketball players and coaches react to winning the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics

Published on August 12, 2012


From USA Basketball

Geno Auriemma

Geno Auriemma (head coach, USA and University of Connecticut)
On the game: 
You know, you go into every game thinking that there’s going to be some things that you have to do, and if you do those things you’re going to have a chance you can win it. You know, France was probably playing as well as anytime I’ve ever seen them, since I’ve been the coach anyway. And when you’re going into it the way they’re playing, they got a lot of confidence. And we tried to really disrupt them and get them into the kind of game they weren’t comfortable playing, and I think we did that right from the beginning. When Candace Parker came in the game, the game changed completely. You know, I thought she was the biggest difference in the game tonight. We all just kind of took that and ran with it. We beat a really good team, but we’re a great team.

On why Candace Parker shined tonight: 
You know, as coaches we know a lot about a lot of things, but that’s a question I can’t answer. I think that Candace (Parker) would be better able to answer that question. Candace has a lot of skills, and some nights she really tries to use them and other nights she forgets the kind of skills that she has. Luckily for us, tonight she remembered.

On if this is the best U.S. Women’s team to-date: 
You know, I hate to say it was the best; it’s like comparing your children because I didn’t coach those other teams. If I did, I would probably say yeah, this was the best because you always get attached to the one you’re coaching. I’m sure every other coach thought that the team they coached was a great team, but you know, the United States has had unbelievably great teams since 1996 and I think we’re just another one on the list. Down the road if people want to make those comparisons, you know, it’s okay, but right now we accomplished the same thing they did, so I don’t know that that separates us from them. I think it just makes us equal with them.

On the French team: 
Sometimes a team just finds itself during a tournament, and I thought the French team was the team of the tournament. I think if you take us out of the tournament, honestly I’m partial to our team; I thought France was the team of the tournament. The way they played consistently from day one all the way to the end, and I thought Celine (Dumerc) was the most important player and the most impactful player in the tournament, and I just want to say congratulations.

On the competitiveness of women’s basketball to U.S. fans versus sports like soccer and gymnastics: 
Yeah, I mean, you can’t apologize for being really good. The reason they don’t think there’s any competition is because they don’t have to be here playing. We know what the competition is, we know how good these other teams are, and we know how hard we have to work to make it look easy, because it’s not as easy as it looks. We do what we do in the United States and we take great pride in our basketball program. It doesn’t matter who the coach is, it doesn’t matter who the players are, there’s a certain level of expectation when you coach and play for USA Basketball. That expectation is to win, and we take it very seriously. Maybe in those other sports, there isn’t that same expectation in the United States that you’re going to win all the time, but we’re not going to start losing just to make them feel better back home.

On what he appreciated about this experience: 
You know, I appreciate how smart some of these coaches are over here. Everybody has this impression that because we invented the game, that we’re the only ones who know how to coach it. I’ve been unbelievably impressed with how much you have to prepare to beat these guys because, because like Celine (Dumerc) said, they spent every summer together for five years. We’ve been together 10 days, 12 days of practice, so they know exactly what they’re doing and they know how to do it, and they capitalized on their mistakes. They have great strategies; they have great schemes on offense; they know how to use their players. I’ve been really, really impressed. And again, if you took our team out of the tournament – if you took our team out of the tournament and took Angola out, the top team in the tournament and the team that lost probably by the biggest margins – if you took those two teams out, you’d have a hard time separating the other 10. So, that’s a heck of a tournament – it really, really was. I’ve been impressed with the level of play every single night out.

On what he learned from this team: 
You know what the funny thing is about professional basketball players? They think they’re smarter than you are. That just boggles my mind, because, if they were, why would USA Basketball have coaches? So, I’m constantly amazed by some of them, how much they think they know. It’s a warning for me, as a college coach, to see that no matter how good some of these players are that play professionally, they need coaching. They need direction, and you know what, the great ones want direction. They want to be kind of guided and driven to another place. I always thought that, but this kind of proved it to me – that idea that pros have you go step on each others toes, don’t like to be told what to do, don’t like to be coached. I’ve found just the opposite – they think they don’t want it, they think they’re really smart, they think what they’re saying makes sense. I wish I could tape them and play it back to them, so hopefully they learned something, and I know for a fact that I learned something – no question.

On the relationship between the men’s and women’s USA Basketball teams: 
You know, the players probably have the most respect for each other of anybody else. They know exactly what each other has to do to be prepared and what it took to get here. So, the players on the men’s team, they probably appreciate the women’s team more than anybody back in America. I know that our players appreciate and interact with the guy’s players like they’re peers. Part of that is because we’re all Team USA and the other part is because I think they respect each other’s talents. So, that’s been great. It’s really been a lot of fun for me to watch. I know Coach (Jim) Boeheim really well – he and his wife Juli – so that’s been really easy for me and my staff. I got to know Coach (Mike) D’Antoni a few years back, so getting reconnected with him is great, and I’ve known Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski for a long time.  For me, we’re just one team – Team USA. We’re not men’s basketball and women’s basketball, we’re Team USA.

Doug Bruno

Doug Bruno (DePaul University)
On how it felt to win the gold:
Great. I have just been blessed to be around a great coaching staff with Geno, Marynell and Jen. And Geno’s staff, too, it’s been a great staff to be around. Great USA staff to be around. But then the players. These are the best players in the world and they were really a joy to be around. They just … not only are they talented but they are great people.

On his journey with Maya and Tina, after starting off his (and their) USA Basketball careers together in 2006:
Who would have thought in 2006 … you know USA Basketball explained to me as a head coach in 2006 that this about training young women for the future Olympics. But I never would have imagined that we would be together in 2012. I very much imagined that they had a chance to be Olympians someday, but I never imagined that I’d be with them in 2012. So it’s an unbelievable thrill to be with Maya and Tina Charles – having coached them in 2006. And the Parker and Catchings connection because I had both players as campers, It’s just a thrill to watch them grow up and the great athletes and great Olympians that they are.

Jen Gillom

Jennifer Gillom (Washington Mystics)
On winning an Olympic gold as a player (1988) and now as an Asst. Coach:
Wow, it brought back a lot of memories of those girls and all the hard work that they’ve gone through and me being a part of that. To see them standing on that podium just gave me goose bumps because I know what, especially those younger players that their first time getting a medal, what it feels like. I was just so proud of them. I felt like a proud mama out there for them. But, you know, receiving a gold medal as a player and then as a coach, there is some difference because, you know, as a player it’s based on your performance and as a coach, you do play some a part in it, but it’s from a different standpoint. They are both great feelings and I’m just glad to be a part of it.

Marynell Meadors

Marynell Meadors (Atlanta Dream)
On her journey to get to this point:
Well, you know, it’s just an awesome feeling and there’s no way to even describe what the feeling you had when you had all those people watching you. The players played so well tonight defensively and they just carried out the game plan, but the excitement of, you know, going ahead and winning that gold medal – I’ve never been there, except in the Olympic Festival stages and that’s a long time ago, but just to work over the last few years with Geno (Auriemma) and with Carol (Callan), the coaching staff was great with Jen Gillom and also with Doug Bruno. It was an awesome togetherness that I think we all shared tonight, and I think it was really good.

On how special it was sharing tonight’s victory with Angel McCoughtry: 
I think so, she’s a young player that has a lot of potential and, you know, she was on the big stage tonight; I think she handled herself exceptionally well.

Seimone Augustus

Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) 
On winning her second goal medal:
It’s great, just to me in the position to win a medal is awesome and the women that I got a chance to experience this with and win a gold medal is even better. Diana has always been a role model for me as well as Catchings and Sue, so it’s just amazing to be with those players.

On winning a gold medal on a team with some of her Minnesota teammates:
It was fun, the chemistry was there. It was kind of funny because at the end Whalen said, I didn’t expect the medal to be this heavy. I said, it’s real gold, baby! This is the first of many for her and hopefully one more for me, or however many more. But like I said, it was just a wonderful experience.

One whether it’s that much sweater considering everything she has gone through:
I had to hold tears back, but I am probably going to break down later. Rethinking the last two or three years for myself and being back and win a gold medal … honestly, I had this as my screen saver a year ago before they even announced the team. So, it’s like a dream come through.

Sue Bird

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)
On what this gold medal means:
This team was so talented and so deep and it really felt like we had the shortest training camp of any other Olympics that I’ve been in. They are all short, but this one seemed extra short. So for us to kind of put it together the way we did it’s very, very gratifying and for me it is my third and in a sense nothing really beats your first, but at the same time my role has really changed and I’ve had to become one of the older players, a veteran, a leader, and to have that evolution occur and to be where I am now, it feels good to win this one as well.

On whether it was important to create her own shot:
As a point guard you’ve got to take what the defense gives, especially on this team where there is so much talent … it’s the easiest job in the world, let’s be honest. I basically have to pass to the best shooters and the best post players that there are and let them go to work. But occasionally openings do happen for me too and I have to be ready to knock them down because as a point guard I can score as well, as well as Lindsay can.

On what the key was to handling adversity:

I think our depth is by far the biggest key for us. We are able to wear teams down. Not very many teams go 12 deep and with that over a two-week tournament, these teams they have to play a lot of minutes … seven, eight players play a lot of minutes and I think none of us have to. So we are just able to wear teams down and by the end for the most part you can see, teams get tired and that’s where we really capitalize.

Swin Cash

Swin Cash (Seattle Storm)
On how tonight was different from other games in the tournament:
I think it was business as usual. I think we all understood what the task was at hand, and the expectation. I think Coach (Auriemma) just really summed it up. He was saying that people come and play in these games for a reason, you know, and there wasn’t much needed to be said up to this point.

On what Coach Auriemma said to the players after the game:
Just that he was really thankful that all of the coaching staff and everybody who don’t usually get to experience this big moment were able to be a part of it.

On the performance of Candace Parker: 
I thought it was great. I thought she was just being Candace and playing at a high level and I was really proud of her.

Tamika Catchings

Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
On how it feels to win her third gold medal:
It’s amazing. Even the opening ceremonies and just being there, when the announced the United States of America and the crowd just going crazy. That moment to being here and being on that podium, having the gold medal, flag rising up – everybody taking pictures. It’s just … the only thing missing was the fireworks but in your head you hear them going off.

On France as an opponent:
I thought it was a very hard fought match. We knew France was going to come out and it was going to be a very competitive game. They have great players, so for us our game plan was just to come out, obviously not let them score and try to keep the ball out of certain people’s hands and I felt from our defensive pressure we did a really good job; and offensively, once we kind of settled down a little bit, being able to knock down shots and layups, that really helped us.

On what this means for women’s basketball:     
I like every single year we step it up a little bit and this year we are celebrating the 40th year of Title IX and just the improvements; how far we have come from four years ago to where we are now today in women’s sports and women in general. But I think for women’s basketball, you just look at the accomplishment that we made tonight, especially in America, the respect is earned. But when you keep building on the legacy that’s already been built before you, it’s just one of things that becomes about admiration more than anything else.

Tina Charles

Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun)
On what the gold medal means for the country and for women’s basketball:
It means everything. It means they put a great group of 12 girls together to go out there and get the job done and we did.

On what it means for her:
It’s awesome. It’s everything. I don’t even think it hit me yet.

On the game vs. France:
We just came out with a determination to get the gold tonight.   I think just every game that we played, every practice that we had all put it together in this game and we dominated France.

Did you ever think a gold medal game would go like this?
I never even envisioned winning a gold medal.   I never envisioned being on an Olympic team but with hard work and perseverance, just me having my faith, I was able to get it done.

Has it hit you yet what you accomplished?
It still hasn’t.  Maybe tonight when I sleep and wake up with it on my neck, I’ll feel it.

How was the gold medal ceremony for you?
It was really cool.   That moment was really epic.  When I was watching Lisa Leslie and them, when they stepped up all together, have their hands up and wave.   That was really nice.

Sylvia Fowles

Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) 
How does it feel to win a second gold medal?

It feels good.  No different from the first one but I think that I can say it’s a little different.  It was just a group of young ladies that we got the gold medal with.  It feels good to have a second one.

Will you come back for a third one?
I think I will come back and aim for a third.  No doubt about that.

What was the feeling standing on the medal stand with this group of women?
It felt good just to look around you and just see that each and every person helped contribute to it and I’m just happy to be a part of the group.

Asjha Jones

Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun)
On winning the gold with some of her college teammates and college coach:
It’s amazing; it’s an amazing feeling. I’m just really proud to be here, proud to be a part of all it. And just excited to watch how well we played all together.

On her thoughts when she received the gold medal:
I don’t know. It was surreal for me. It was my first time, and I just can’t believe I was here. You dream about this stuff when you were a little kid and I to live it is a dream.

On what she is going to do with her gold medal:
I’m going to sleep in it. I’m going to take it off to shower … probably. But I am going to live in it.

Angel McCoughtry

Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)
On how it feels to win her first gold medal:
It feels great. I feel like I’m on top of the world – there is no greater feeling than this. I am going to wear my gold medal everywhere.

On how difficult it was to be the prohibitive favorite: 
Coach had a great speech in the beginning of the game: He said, good players expect to win; we play to win, we don’t play to lose. When you don’t play to lose it makes a big difference. We play to win; the thought of losing never comes into your mind. That makes a big difference. I feel like I’m on top of the world right now. I’m so excited. I’ve got a gold medal, my first one. My name is not Angel McCoughtry. It’s Angel McCoughtry, gold medalist. Now I’m going to change my number to 8, it’s not going to be 35 anymore. Because we just won the gold medal, and I’m feeling good with No. 8 right now – something different.

On if the U.S. executed their game plan against France tonight: 
Yeah, because we won a gold medal. I’d say so.

On if she thought the U.S. had a slow start: 
It was a good game. Everyone keeps saying that we’re blowing teams out, but these aren’t easy games. Every game is hard, you know, and the scoreboard doesn’t show it, but these games are very hard games.

On if and how she improved throughout the tournament:

I did, I did. I felt like my game went to another level, I felt like I really improved and I really felt that I helped bring a spark off the bench.

Maya Moore

Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) 
On the hard work it took to reach this goal:
I think you have to look at our overall schedule in order to appreciate this month of what we just put together. We go from … overseas for us, European League or Asia and you plat for six to eight months, and then you hop right in to the WNBA season and you play for five straight months in the most intense basketball in the world, and in between that you’ve got some USA Basketball training camps when you are supposed to be vacationing. So we choose to come in and train and work hard and compete against each other and then squeeze in some Olympic games in between our WNBA games when we could have been relaxing for a little while. But we came together and put it on the line for our country because we re are so blessed to have the opportunity to play in the United States of America and around such great talent and such great coaches a place that actually develops us as people and as basketball players. I think of all that and to have this moment to kind of put the icing on the cake, it’s very sweet.

On how important it is to put individual goals aside:
It’s hard. That’s why team sports are so much fun to watch because it’s really an artwork of and a game of how can you fit these pieces together knowing that anyone of us could score 30 if we had to, but we don’t have to. So it’s kind of hard to do what you are usually not called on to do. But we made it work and it was beautiful.

On Candace Parker’s performance:
When she’s aggressive she is going to get anything she wants. I think one of her best abilities is to start the break. She’ll get a rebound, start it in transition, give it up and get it right back. Or come off of a screen-and-roll, Diana or someone will draw someone’s attention and find her and she’ll finish inside. She really has so many ways to score in her game. When she brings it like that it is almost impossible to beat our team.

Candace Parker

Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) 
On her mindset against France:
I think I was a little disappointed in the last game with my energy; I think I could play with a lot more energy and that’s what coach wants. Just come in with energy and not play scared and if you miss shots that’s ok as long as you bring a lot of energy.

On what it feels like to win her second gold:
I don’t remember who scored what points or how many rebounds you had. You just remember you won a gold medal and who was on your team. I think that this is just so sweet to get the second one. I was told a lot that Michael Jordan, when he was playing in Chicago, always said it’s easy – well, it’s not easy – but you can stumble on a championship once, but it’s really hard to do it twice. And for USA Basketball to do it five times in a row, that’s truly special.

On whether USA’s run can continue:
We hope so. A lot can change in four years, and I think that we are never going to take anything for granted. That’s the key. I think that everybody understands that basketball is changing, that teams come up. Who would have expected France getting the silver medal this year? Basketball is changing for sure for the better.

On if there is a sense of relief:
Definitely. You never want to be that team that ends the streak, so I think it was great for us to continue the winning tradition and get another gold medal.

Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) 
On the impact of Candace Parker tonight: 
She had a really good game. I know she was really disappointed after her game the other night. I think today she came out with a little bit more energy and a lot more force, and it showed throughout the game.

On the versatility of Candace Parker: 
She’s one of those players that can really do anything on the court, and that’s what separates her from a lot of players. I think that’s just another example of how great this team is that any given night, someone can step up and kind of take charge of it. You can probably go back to the game logs and (look at) the leading scorer in each game … I think that’s what coach has preached and, the team, that’s the way we wanted to play. Tonight, looking up and down, we had a lot of people contributed and that feels good at the end of the day.

On winning an Olympic gold for the third time with Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird and on if Tamika will play in Rio in 2016: 
I mean, we shook on it, so she’s in.  You know, I usually don’t get very emotional when you win something, but for some reason when we walked into the arena afterwards, it kind of hit me that this might be my last, it might not be, but after three golds, they’re really hard. Even if you win a game by 30, if you win by 10, the whole process is really difficult to try to get 12 really good players to kind of just buy into one thing. It takes awhile; it takes a lot of effort. By the end of it, I think we succeeded in what we wanted to do, we were lucky enough to win a gold medal doing it.

On if it ever gets old winning championships: 
No, I mean this tournament was a lot different than the other ones. I think mainly just the way we set up, because we did play Australia in the semis and I think coming in, probably against France, I don’t think they were playing the best basketball in the tournament. So, I think coming into this game we were, not scared, but we knew that this team was going to be playing really well. I think for those first 20 minutes, they probably matched our intensity, and, you know, over the course of the game, we kind of wore them down. I don’t think it gets old. To see how happy Maya was, to do it with Coach (Auriemma) this time, you know, everyone has had a different element to it. To see Sue (Bird) and (Tamika) Catchings – this is our third one. It’s different and it feels really good.

On winning again with Coach Auriemma and their special bond: 
I mean, there’s really no better feeling. I wouldn’t want to be up here with anyone else. Coach (Auriemma) knows me more than any person on this earth, including my family, so it means a lot.

On the dynamic of her and Sue Bird: 
You know, we just work really well on the court. We just find a way to really control the game in a lot of ways. When you get on these teams, you have so many great players and so many great scorers, we’ve really taken the role of more facilitators, getting people in the right spots. We’ve been lucky enough to play for Coach (Auriemma), and he’s really taught us how to manage a game in more ways than just scoring. I think we just understand each other really well on the court. We’re best friends and that all has helped us in our careers, here with USA Basketball, in Connecticut, overseas, just having a great feeling of synergy on the court.

On the flow of the game with so many contributors: 
Well, we knew it was going to be a difficult game. We all knew the French team really well. We know how hard they play on every possession, how physical they are, how they pride themselves on defense, starting with Celine (Dumerc) over here. We know how difficult it is, and they don’t let you get anything easy. I think we just try to really share the ball and make that our strength and I think that throughout the 40 minutes we did that.

On whether Diana will play in Rio in 2016: 
Oh yeah. If it was up to me, I would be on the team, but four years is a long time. It’s a long time and you don’t know what can happen in four years, but would I love to be on the team again? Sure. There’s no better feeling to putting on the jersey and representing your country. It’s one thing I always look forward to.

Lindsay Whalen

Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) 
On what winning gold feels like:
A lot of years, a lot of really good teamwork from this team, and we put it together tonight and this whole tournament so … tonight, that run in the second half really put us over the edge. Sue and Candace had some really great performances tonight; it was just cool to see.

On whether it was easy as it looked:
No, every team was tough. France had a great tournament. We know coming in that they were big inside and had guards that could shoot and make plays, so we tried to do a lot to disrupt their play and make them have to do something different and think we did that.

On getting good looks in the first and the shots not falling:
Second half, we got a couple to go, a couple of layups. Once we made the easy ones we were able to get out there and run and make some plays.

On the weight of the medal: 
It’s heavy. It’s awesome.

On what means more, a gold medal or winning the WNBA title:
I don’t know. I think … you know, I’ll take both. Last year was great and now this is great, too. So I think the biggest thing is being a part of two great teams and two great coaching staffs and everyone who put so much effort in to this is … what can you. It was our goal to come here and win gold and to see it all the way through is really cool.


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