By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For Fox Deportes
WASHINGTON, D.C. – USA women’s Olympic basketball team coach Geno Auriemma sat at a table after his team had defeated Brazil 99-67 Monday night in the nation’s capital. Two of his players, guards Lindsey Whalen and Diana Taurasi (right, in photo above), had just gotten up and were walking out of the interview room at the Verizon Center.
Auriemma explained how he hadn’t heard “all Lindsey and Sue had to say,” having walked in late to the news conference.
“Stop calling me Sue!!!” Taurasi yelled, clearly within earshot but out of sight of everyone in the room. Needless to say, laughter was everywhere.
“I knew she was listening,” Auriemma said, smiling.
Taurasi, a WNBA star for the Phoenix Mercury who is playing on her third Olympic team, seeks her third gold medal and the ninth in a row for the U.S. women. She’s among the best basketball players in the world and is one of just six women to have earned a FIBA world championship gold medal, an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship (with Auriemma at Connecticut and) a WNBA title (with the Phoenix Mercury).
The 30-year-old from Chino, Calif., is also quite a jokester, and given her long relationship with Auriemma, the gags fly back and forth between coach and player.
Immediately after the win over Brazil, none other than the Commander-in-Chief himself, President Obama, visited with the USA players. Taurasi, playing in her first game since hip and ankle injuries forced her to miss 16 games with the Mercury, was asked what the president had told them.
“With the president we talked a little health care, ummm, tax breaks,” Taurasi said with a straight face while reporters laughed.
Whalen was there to set the record straight. President Obama told the players to represent the country well in London and make America proud, she said.
So did he watch the game? After all, Mr. Obama arrived just as the women’s game was wrapping up at the Verizon Center and the men’s team was about to play its game.
“He said he watched it on his iPhone. He has the app,” Taurasi said. Another joke (well, maybe). More laughs.
Taurasi, who scored 16 points (four 3-pointers) with seven assists but was responsible for six turnovers against Brazil, is among the older players on the U.S. team. She has accomplished pretty much all there is in women’s basketball, in the USA, Europe and in international competitions.
An American of Argentine parentage, Taurasi speaks Spanish and, according to her USA Basketball bio, “makes some killer stuffed bell peppers.”
She was asked to compare the 2012 team to the gold medal-winning 2004 and 2008 teams.
“To say better would be disrespecting the ’04 and ’08 teams that were pretty good,” Taurasi said. “I think we have a chance. I think we have the ability and obviously the opportunity to put together a month of great basketball. We have the talent. We have the togetherness of liking each other and wanting to be real good. Those are things that a lot of teams don’t have.”