Maya Moore has reason to be confident. In her first season as a professional last year, the 1.83 meter tall forward helped her team, the Minnesota Lynx, win its first WNBA championship. She then joined Ros Casares in Spain, winning both the Spanish title and Euroleague title.
Prior to turning pro she played for the University of Connecticut - or UConn - for a team that dominated the university ranks, going undefeated for two seasons in 2009 and 2010. Now she and five others who played at UConn (during the last decade) make up half of the 12-member squad that will to try to win the Olympic gold medal in London.
“There is no reason why that should not be a realistic goal every year considering the talent, the experience and the people we have on our team. I mean some of the best players that will go down in the history books for the game of basketball are on this team,” she said.
This Team USA squad will be coached by her mentor, UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
“He’s the best coach in the world in my opinion. I had so much growth and so many great memories from playing at UConn. And to be able to play for him this quickly after I graduated, it is almost unfair,” Moore said.
Since Auriemma became coach of the UConn women's basketball team in 1985, it has won seven national titles and had four perfect seasons that ended with homecoming parades and receptions with the president at the White House.
Auriemma says the pressure of trying to win a fifth straight Olympic gold medal will help motivate Team USA to play up to its potential and understand that winning anything less than gold will be a failure.
“Here you are coaching the best players, and the goal is to win the gold medal. Silver medal doesn’t make anybody have a celebration, you know, same as Connecticut. If you come in second there is no parade,” Auriemma said.
Maya Moore says for competitive athletes pressure and high expectations are part of the game, and getting the chance to test yourself against the best players in the world at the Olympics is part of the fun.