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Q: Your thoughts on todayīs win?
Staley: We responded, you know? We responded in an adverse situation and I thought our players played well. And our new legacy begins.
Q: Does it feel good to go out on a win?
Staley: Oh, it certainly does. In this environment, you know. The Brazilian fans are truly faithful. If they're up forty ór down forty, they cheer the same way. I thought our players responded. They were very focused, from the tme they stepped on the floor to the fortieth minute. Thatīs what you want coming off a loss like we had.
Q: It seems like you still have a sour taste from the other night?
Staley: Yeah, I do. It's really disappointg for us to be getting the bronze medal because we all came here to compete for the gold. And not to be in the gold medal game is really disheartening, but at the same time, Iīve been in those shoes, in ī94. Iīve been exactly where our players are, and we responded by ten years of gold medals. And hopefuly it will continue to happen ten more years, and ten more years after that.
Q: Do you think this teaches Taurasi, Catchings, Bird and Parker, who will be here for the next ten years, that you canīt take a night off?
Staley: Yeah, sometimes you need a wake-up call like that. Itīs unfortunate, you donīt want it to happen, but thatīs how we grow. Through adversity, through losing, thatīs how we grow as athletes on the international level.
Q: How did the win feel?
Good, good. Obviously, more like we would want toplay like than the other night. Obviously, weīre not walkng away with the color medal weīd like, but weīre really pleased with the way we came out, represented ourselves and the USA. Hopefully this game will send us off on a good note and be something to build on and remind us there are some great things that can be done by this team and this group, and we just have to stay focused every single game. We canīt have that one night off, as we saw in this tournament.
Q:: Is it half painful to play so dominately in a bronze medal game?
It is, it is. I told Caroline (Williams, Team USA PR Director), "Man, we let one slip away," and its painful. I hope it stays with us and motivates us for the next tournament. Itīs not going to get any easier, and Iīm excited about it. Iīm excited about this grup, about what we can do. Hopefully this will teach us to stay on that edge, and make us understand that you canīt have a bad day. You have to come out and find a way tó win.
Q: How did the team feel after absorbing that loss? Lessons learned? Disappointment?
More disappointment. And, weīve played a lot of games. It doesnīt feel that bad. You win a lot and you lose a lot. Itīs kind of the nature of the beast. You just have to pick yourself back off that floor and get after it again. I think everybody understands where we want to be in USA Basketball. We want to get back on top. And we started today. You know, you get right back out there and start it today, build it back up again.
Q:Thoughts on that victory?
It felt bittersweet, in a way,ībecause we wanted to be playing for the gold medal. But at the same time, it was a must-win game for us. We wanted to win the bronze, we wanted to get a medal, so it was good to get the victory.
Q: Is it a performanc like todayīs that makes it bittersweet, by reminding you all how good you are when you put it together?
Exactly. You know. Russia was a tremendous competitor and they beat us. To win how we won right now, it just proves a bit further how good we can be when we do put it together, and thatīs why itīs kind of....it stinks a little bit knowing that we canīt play for the gold medal.
Q;How awful would it have been to lose this game.
Oh yeah. No, no, no. Iīm very happy to have won the bronze medal. Iīm going to use what experience I gained here, particularly losing, and hopefully we can use that for the Olympics. Yeah know, we have to qualify for the Olympics. So once we get there, hopefully this can be the fuel to our fire.
Q: Did the loss to Russia teach you and the younger players that the USA is actually capable of losing and that you canīt take one quarter off?
Yeah. Unfortunately, sometime it takes a loss to learn those lessons, to open your eyes, to not get so comfortable.
Q: How did that game feel?
It felt good. Obviously, that wasnīt really the game that we wanted to play, but that being said, we came out and responded very well, responded to pressure, and now we have something to work on.
Q: Was it fun? Towards the end, I saw you and Sheryl laughing it up. What were you talking about?
Ainīt no telling. We were having a good time. We just wanted to have fun, come out with a lot of energy, which we didnīt have against Russia. I think any time you get the lead up likewe did, youīre able to sit back and relax for a second. It feels good.
Q: How insane was Taurasi tonight?
Very insane. I was like "Is anybody going to guard her?" She did a great job. She was doing everything. She came off screens, took it to the hole. Some nights youīre on, some nights youīre off, and tonight she was definitely on.
Q:Does this win remind you that this team can be the best in the world when it turns it on?
Yeah. We didnīt play our best game against Russia. And having to play Brazil on their home turf... we wanted to come out and do what weīre capable of doing. We know that weīre a great team when we play together, when we push the ball and do the little things that count And thatīs what we did today. We started with defense, and from there we were able to get our offense working. It kind of felt like how Russia played, you know? All those shots they shot went in, and the first five minutes for us, pretty much everything we shot went in.
Q: Are you going to have anytime now that the tournamentis over to enjoy Brazil?
Yeah, we leave tomnorrow night, so we have plenty of time to get out and relax, finally get to see a little of Sao Paulo. Weīre going to go to the mall. I know thatīs the first thing planned. Come on, you canīt go on a trip without going to the mall.
Q: What is your overview of this tournament, now that the US has won the bronze medal?
I think everybody concerned is very proud of the women. How they came back from a very disappointing loss against Russia. Russia was great, and certainly deserved to win, but I think for our players to turn around, play with pride, and have such a decisive performance, particularly young players, players like Diana and Tamika, who are a very big part of the future, and who I think can really learn from the experience here. Every cloud has a silver lining and I think we certainly showed that today.
Q: How would you asses the future of USA basketball, with both the men and womenīs teams winning the bronze in the World Championships this year?
I think both the events in Japan and the events in Brazil are, frankly, a sobering reminder for us all about how much the world has changed. In terms of the level of competition in our sport, for men and for women. The days where we could send a quality team and not prepare for a long time and mostly be dominant are really over, and theyīve been over for awhile. But itīs not until you come down to these events or go to Japan and really see it and experience it that you understand it fully. And I think the more people know about how the world has changed, the more respectful they are of what an accomplishment it really is now to be in the gold medal game or bring home the bronze. But I can say that everybody concerned is very focused now on qualifying for the Olympics next summer in order to formally secure our berth in the Olympics. So everybody here at USA Basketball is hunkered down and ready to do that planning. I think thereīs extra motivation now on both the mensīside and the womensīside to bring home that gold medal in the Olympics.
Q: Is there a structural problem for USA Basketball with the scheduling of the American professional leagues, particularly the WNBA? Is there any way around that or is the answer simply to train harder?
In the case of womens basketball, itīs a difficult climnate because of the scheduling right now. The WNBA plays in the summer. Pretty much the rest of the world plays in the winter. Itīs becoming a bit difficult to fit in not only the national team training, but the events themselves, like this one. And it does create a less than ideal set of circumstances in terms of preparation and competition. I think weīve done a very good job with USA Basketball in collaborating with the WNBA to make this work as best as we can. Might there be changes going forward? Maybe. As far as weīre concerned, it is what it is. Whatever the circumstances, weīre going to do what we have to do. And, in terms of womensībasketball, you come to these games and see just how strong these other countries are, you see how prepared they are. Many of these top players are playing in the WNBA, just like it is in mens basketball now, and everybodyīs really helping each other elevate the level of the sport, and thatīs the gain.
Q:Your reactions to beating Brazil?
It wasnīt the game we wanted to be in, but this was our gold medal game, and I think it was a great performance.
Q: Was it bittersweet to be playing for the bronze?
You know, I really feel like when we play "USA Basketball," weīre pretty unbeatable. Unfortunately, we didnīt play yesterday and things didnīt go our way, but we rebounded today very well.
Q: Was the loss to Russia a wake-up call?
We knew coming in that there were great teams. But we defnitely know now. Every team has to battle through adversity, and this is our adversity.
Q: How did that game feel?
Honestly, it sucked that weīre not in the gold medal game, but I think we take something out of this. It was a hard-fought tournament. I think we came in well prepared, we just had an unfortunate night where things didnīt come together. You know, stuff like this happens for a reason. It gives us extra motivation next tme around. We take a lot of positives out of this -- we stuck together tonight, which might be the biggest positive we take out of this.
Q: Did it gnaw at you not playing for the gold?
Sue and I were talking on the bench and saying "I donīt knnow whether itīs worse to win by 40, or that teamīs better," because you have that itch inside of you that you should playing for the gold too. But like I said, we stuck together, we came out tonight and proved a point, I think.
Q: Was the loss to Russia a sobering reminder that team USA can actually lose these tournaments?
Everyone is human. Especially us, who always have a target on our backs. People at home always expect us to win every game. but things happen for a reason. Maybe this is a wake-up call we need, for myself and the younger people on our team. So, I think you take everything with a little bit of positiveness.
Q: What was it like being in the zone offensively tonight?
It was awesome. Especially in front of these great fans. It was one of those nights where eveything seemed to go in.
Q: Did you want to stay in and keep firing?
No, I was tired. Those were the hardest 16 minutes of my life, I think. I looked over and said, "Anne, I need a blow, now." It was just fun to be out there and I think we should how well we could play. And, if you think about it, that was how we played the whole tournament, but unfortunately we couldnīt get it done the other night.
Q: With three minutes left, I saw you and Sue dying of laughter on the bench. What were you laughing about?
Some things have to stay in house. That was a funny one that has to stay in house. Just stick around and you might find out later.