USA Men's And Women's National Teams Arrive In Manchester
ē Photo Gallery: USA team with President Obama & Vice President Biden
After recording a pair of exhibition wins against their Brazilian counterparts on July 16 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C, as well as meeting President Barack Obama, the 2012 USA Basketball Men's and Women's National Teams departed the nation's capitol and arrived in Manchester, England on Tuesday afternoon.
While the U.S. women took the court in preperation for an exhibition game against Great Britain tomorrow (July 18) at 7:10 p.m. (BST, which is +5 hours from EDT), the U.S. men headed to a reception on behalf of the city of Manchester.
Hear from seven of the USA Women's National team members, as well as USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma on their preparadness as well as meeting the President.
Geno Auriemma (USA and University of Connecticut head coach)
On practicing on a travel day:
We played last night. We leave there at like one-thirty in the morning. We come right here. We got to get a little work out in, get their bodies moving a little bit, but time is getting away from us. We need time together. We need time on the floor. Nobody is feeling sorry for us, don't get me wrong. I've been saying this for a while. I've been coaching this team for four years, and yesterday we didn't have Sue, so that training camp in Seattle in May, the three days, was the only time I've had the team together in four years. So, we just need time. Even this little amount of time today, for like an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes is important to us. Tomorrow's shoot-around, it's not a shoot-around, it's another practice. It's another hour that we have together, that we have to get to know each other more. Every game, even the game against (Great Britain) is going to be 40 minutes of being together. It's not even, hey did we win, did we lose? Of course we want to win, but we have to get some things done. We got to get to know each other a little bit. We just need time.
On President Barack Obama addressing the team on July 16:
It's amazing what can happen in Washington, D.C., and the weekend that we were there was unbelievable. Like Keith (Anderson, video manager) said, in one day we met maybe the three most powerful men in the world, the President, the Vice President and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You don't get to do that very often, and we did it in one day. From the player's standpoint, they meet a lot of people in their lives, but when you are in that situation and the President comes down on the court and you're just in a little practice area and you have his full undivided attention, you don't get that very often. He wasn't in his work clothes, he wasn't campaigning for anything, he was a guy in jeans and sneakers talking basketball, but it was the President of the United States. There are some perks to being on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Swin Cash (Chicago Sky)
When the team met with the President after last nightís game, it seemed as if he knew you and some of your teammates. How had you previously met?
I met the President a few times. I was asked by the President to come to the White House for a mentoring initiative that he had with the fatherhood initiative. So, I met him then. Iíve been back after winning championships, and this past year I went to the Easter egg hunt and was able to spend some† time with him on the court, Tamika (Catchings) and I. He is very, very humble. Very down to earth. I really appreciate the time he spent with us. You donít usually get that type of time. To be able to communicate with not only him, but the Vice President as well. Iíve met him a couple of times as well, but for them to remember you and to talk and ask you things about your family and stuff like that, it brings it all back to what we were talking about yesterday. Back to reality. Itís really humbling.
You received your Olympic accreditation today, is it starting to sink in that youíre back here?
It is. Obviously weíre on this grind now. Weíre going to be moving and practicing. A lot of things are going on. But itís moments like this that make it hit home.
You missed out in 2008 after having been a rookie in 2008. Will it be sweeter this time around, given the fact that youíll be more of a contributor and knowing the work you put in to get back to the Olympics?
Yeah, definitely. This has been a humble journey for me the last four years. Iím really looking forward to taking everything in and helping the team in any way that I can. At the end of the day we know the task at hand, and I want to do whatever I can to achieve our goal.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever)
Do you think Great Britain can win a medal?
I definitely think that Great Britain can win a medal. Looking back at the (2010) World Championship games, being in Czech Republic, they made it all the way. Of course we had to play them in the finals for the gold. I think that when youíre representing your country, you have an extra sense of pride and you play with that much more attitude. Having your home crowd behind you, the crowd is going to be amazing. Every single time they play itís going to be a packed house. People are going to be excited to see what their home team has.
When you look at going to the Olympics, you canít look at who our top competitors are or who are our top rivals. We have to stay focused for every single game, because every single country is going to be ready to take out the USA. As soon as we let go or let up and underestimate a team, thatís when theyíre going to come and surprise us.
Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun)
Was it exciting today to get your credential for the Olympics?
So far, since we came together it's kind of been sinking in that we are the Olympic team. It was kind of exciting to get that done. It's just one more step closer to actually getting on the court.
On practicing on a travel day:
Practicing on a travel day comes with the territory, and we know it. We just want to get started and get going.
On President Barack Obama addressing the team on July 16:
That was awesome. Everyone I know was jealous because I actually got to take pictures with him and meet him and everything. It was just awesome to be able to do that and be so close to him and see how personable he is.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Are you excited about playing in the Olympics?
Itís extremely exciting. Iím glad to finally be here, closer to the Games and be physically here in Great Britain. Weíre excited to get playing and hopefully do what we came to do.
Do you feel privileged to be following in the footsteps of such great players who have represented the USA in the past?
Definitely. The legacy and the heritage in USA Basketball is one of the best in U.S. Olympic history. To be a part of that now and to have a chance to continue to bring success back to the U.S. program, itís a huge honor. Iím excited to be a part of it.
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
On yesterdayís visit to Arlington National Cemetary:
It was a great experience for us. I know I have a better appreciation for what the military does for our country. Itís really nice having their support, going over and playing in the Olympics, representing us.
When you met President Obama after your game against Brazil, he asked about Lailaa. When did they first meet?
He actually met Lailaa when she was a baby. The first time we came to Washington, Shelís (Shelden Williams) friends with Reggie Love and he was an aide to the President. We met him then, when she was maybe four months, three months old. He held her and took pictures and stuff. It was cool that he remembered. I told Lailaa, but she wasnít very impressed (laughs). Sheís only three, so she doesnít really know.
Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)
On the Great Britain womenís basketball team:
Theyíve just been together for a little while now, but I know Coach Maher, whoís been around the block with China and obviously Australia, his teams always play tough, hard-nosed basketball. Theyíre very disciplined. So, we expect a really hard match tomorrow night.
Do you know much about their players?
You know what? I really donít. I know they have some pretty good perimeter players, some posts who are pretty versatile. Thatís something thatís going to give us a little bit of a challenge.
Do you feel the pressure of the expectations of winning gold?
We kind of try to ignore that pressure from the outside. We just try to focus on every little part and that starts with tomorrowís game against GB, then going to London and preparing for pool play. So, we really donít feel it that much.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
You received your Olympic credential today. Does that make it seem even more real that youíre an Olympian?
Yeah, and I think being over here in Great Britain gives us that feel. Weíre not in London yet, but to take the flight over here, itís definitely starting to come together.
What was it like to meet the President and Vice President yesterday?
It was cool. It was a huge honor and something that Iíve never done before. It was really cool. It took me awhile to Ö I was kind of awestruck for awhile, but it was really cool to meet him.
What do you know about Great Britain?
Just that this is their home country. We know itís going to be tough. Theyíve been playing tough. Theyíve really been competing hard. We know itís going to be a really tough challenge for us.