Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Diana Taurasi on Caitlin Clark’s learning curve: ‘A different dance you have to learn’

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Women’s basketball is riding an unprecedented wave of publicity these days with this week’s official announcement of the U.S. Olympic basketball team roster.

From all indications, it will not include Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark, who has taken the WNBA by storm this year – similar to the way another player did when she entered the league 20 years earlier.

Diana Taurasi knows the feeling of being the youngest player on a team surrounded by accomplished veterans. Shortly after graduating from the University of Connecticut, Taurasi was named to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. She tells USA TODAY Sports it was an overwhelming experience.

“I was the youngest on that team by far. Just amazing amazing veterans took me under their wing and really showed me the ropes,” Taurasi says of playing with all-time greats such as Lisa Leslie, Cheryl Miller, Dawn Staley and Tina Thompson.

“Talk about the Mount Rushmore of basketball, I was right there watching their every move. The way they prepared. How serious they took it. I had to learn the ropes too.”

Taurasi won gold at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, beginning an amazing streak of playing on five consecutive Olympic championship squads. She’ll go for No. 6 when the 2024 Olympics begin in Paris next month.

Diana Taurasi on Caitlin Clark’s Olympic snub

As for Clark, while she may be disappointed about not making the Team USA roster, Taurasi says she’ll be just fine in the long run.

“The game of basketball is all about evolving. It’s all about getting comfortable with your surroundings,” Taurasi says. “College basketball is much different than the WNBA than it is overseas. Each one almost is like a different dance you have to learn. And once you learn the steps and the rhythm and you have a skill set that is superior to everyone else, everything else will fall into place.”

Taurasi says the all the attention women’s basketball is receiving now shows how the hard work so many people put in decades earlier is paying off.

“It’s a culmination of so many things – social media, culture, women’s sports – the impact they’ve had in this country the last 4-5 years,” she says.

“Sometimes you need all those ingredients in a perfect storm and that’s what we have right now. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

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