Interview outtakes: more glimpses

Journalists ask athletes a lot of questions: before the game, after the game – and about all kinds of topics. Not every statement makes a story; in fact, quite a few quotes land on the cutting room floor, to borrow a phrase from film.

Reporters also sometimes ask questions with the future in mind – like when they have a hunch about something – and they save those athlete statements for an appropriate time.

Some of each scenario is the case with these gems. Enjoy.

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Indiana Fever, from 26 days ago:

Me: What’s bringing you together right now?

Tamika Catchings: Confidence – that’s a really big thing for us. And unity: when one of us is struggling, the others step up.

Me: Does this team still have that 2012 championship mentality?

Tamika Catchings: We say, let’s focus on defense – our offense will come. The more we play with each other the more comfortable we get. Hitting open shots is a big part of it. In the championship, I thought everybody at the right time was on; we can still do that.

Me: What’s it going to be like when Coach Dunn is gone?

Tamika Catchings: It’s going to be weird – she’s been my coach for the last seven years.

At first we really butted heads. We both wanted the same things, but we both had completely different ideas about how to get there. Eventually I had to take a step back; she’s the coach, and we have to do it her way. Now, we’re pretty tight.

It’ll definitely be different not having her here.

Me: Have people been asking you about retirement?

Tamika Catchings: Yes. And I do want to get married and have babies before I get too old. But I want to make one more Olympic team before that happens. All in due time.

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Me: You seem like a completely different player this year, in your second season. What’s the difference between your rookie year and this one?

Layshia Clarendon: I think just experience. It’s so hard to come in and be a rookie and be a point guard, especially. The speed of the game, the plays – everything is so much faster. I feel a big difference from last year; just the speed, and processing information. I feel it when I play: I’m not so frantic. You try to absorb it; you get two weeks of training camp and then your first game. Last year I was mixing up our plays with the Cal plays, just struggling a little bit.

Me: Where did you play overseas again?

Layshia Clarendon: I was in Czech Republic in Prague. The team and the organization was great, I had a great experience as far as the organization. But I became fatigued and my back started flaring up, so I came home early.

Me: You guys say you’re coming together now. Why is that?

Layshia Clarendon: Half of our team as new. You’re counting me as a returner, and a veteran in my second year? People forget sometimes that we’re such a young team.

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Me: How is the Fever coming together as a team right now?

Briann January: I think we’re in a different phase for our team. In the initial phases we were integrating the newcomers. Half the team was new and they weren’t familiar with our system. And with the absence of Tamika it was tough. We were working through kinks and learning each other. Now we have the experience of playing together and it’s time to really get better as a team.

Me: Do you all feel like you have a championship team?

Briann January: I think we could. Every year I’ve been here, Indiana’s been that team no one talks about but ends up in the finals. That’s always how it is. We constantly see ourselves as the underdogs, and we just try to get out there and grind. We don’t try to think about where we’re placed and how we’re seen as – we just get out there and work hard every day. That’s what got us a championship. We’re trying to get back for sure.

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All-Star Game, July 19, 2014:

Me: Can you describe your first All-Star Game experience?

Skylar Diggins: It meant a lot to me to come out here and be part of this All-Star experience. It’s amazing – it’s great. I thought we did some great things as a team and for women’s basketball. Anytime you get a chance to play against the best in the world, to try to figure out how to stop them. Just to try to pick them apart and figure out why they’re so great. Even if it’s just a few days, it’s great to spend time with these vets and players. You don’t get to play with them or haven’t played with them in a while.

The fans were awesome; Phoenix is a great host city.

East open practice, July 18, 2014:

Me: So after a practice like this, what’s the plan for tomorrow?

Angel McCoughtry: To whip some West behind!

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Connecticut Sun rookie Chiney Ogwumike, from 20 days ago:

Me: Can you talk about the youth of the Connecticut Sun?

Chiney Ogwumike: Our youth really came in big for us when we played San Antonio the other night. Alyssa Thomas was great, Alex Bentley was great. San Antonio made it a great game for us because of our youth. We weren’t experienced in how to close out. Even though our youth is a good thing, we have to learn how to gain experience as we go. The addition of Ebony Hoffman, and having Katie Douglas here has really helped us. They’ve been the voice in the locker room trying to keep us on the straight and narrow. Even though we’re young, we use it to our advantage a lot in sprinting and being aggressive. At the same time, we have to learn how to play experienced basketball. I think that’s what’s been going on throughout the year, and I think we’re finally getting back to it.

Me: The team is very promising.

Chiney Ogwumike: We have a very young team, and we know that even though there will be struggles over the next few years, we’re building something really special. It might seem like the beginning of something really special here. We’re trying to enjoy the process of building something. Every game isn’t going to be fun, but enjoy the ups and downs, because when you look back it’ll be something very special. I’m enjoying being in Connecticut and everyone can see that’s happening.

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