Here are today’s comments made by U.S. U-19 finalists Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley, Mo Jefferson Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Diamond DeShields …
You’ve been on a USA Basketball roster before. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist again?
“It was exciting, and I think it was reassuring for myself to know that I can still play at this level. After a year of college, I think this helps show that it has made me a better player. I went into this week with more confidence than I did last year. It feels good.’’
What do you think stood out to the selection committee about your game?
“I think my main focus was to obviously play well, but to talk. I was trying to communicate more, be a leader, never stop talking. I think this year I showed that I’m a team player and will step up for anyone.’’
How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for your second USA Basketball team?
“It was definitely an exciting moment to make the first cut and become a finalist because nothing is guaranteed. I know that I worked hard so that I could make the team again this year, and it feels good to be rewarded.’’
What did you focus on this week that may have stood out to the selection committee?
“I definitely wanted to focus on a leadership role, especially as a point guard. Knowing where everyone’s supposed to be on the floor and going out there and making sure we’re playing hard all the time is important.’’
What can you be doing between now and training camp to ensure a final roster spot?
“Definitely, when I go back home, training and being a vocal leader. I just need to keep improving at keeping my teammates involved.’’
You’ve been on the other side of this process, how does it feel to be selected as a finalist?
“Honestly I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m just honored to be selected as a finalist and to go to Florida and train and try out again.’’
What was your first thought when you heard your name called?
“When she called my name I really didn’t hear it until someone tapped me on the back. I was surprised but excited.’’
What did you focus on this week?
“I think this week I shot a lot better. Last year I didn’t shoot that much, I just attacked. I kind of split my game up more, so I was shooting mid-range jumpers, I was shooting threes and actually passing the ball to my teammates.’’
Kaleena Mosqueda- Lewis
How does it feel to be a finalist for a third USA Basketball team?
“It’s an honor. Also, being able to be on the team with girls I’ve played with the past two years and girls I’ll be going to college with, I’m really excited.’’
What did you do this week to impress the committee?
“I tried not to do too much, just tried to stay inside my role, be a team player out there, hit the open man and play a little defense.’’
Like you mentioned, a lot of you have played together previously. How will that help the team chemistry?
“I think it’s going to help us a lot. We’ve done a lot together. We get along really well, so the chemistry is going to be great.’’
How did it feel when your name was called? Any different than the last couple of years?
“Yeah, it was different. I was playing up to a different level this year, going up against college people. I was very nervous.’’
Did you prepare differently, knowing you’d be going up against college players?
“I just tried to get as many workouts in as I could. I worked on my shots, for sure, and just tried to get my wind.’’
How were you feeling this morning before the announcement?
“I was still pretty nervous this morning. I mean, even if I did do good, I would still feel nervous. You know your name is waiting, and you’re not sure if you’re on the list or not.’’
How will having several players who have competed for USA Basketball in the past help this team?
“I think there are five or six returning, so that will help in terms of leadership. It will be fun; it will be fun with everyone.’’
How do you feel you did this week at the trials?
“I feel like I did pretty good. There are some things you always wish you did better at tryouts, but overall, I feel good about how I competed.’’
How did it feel this morning when you heard your name called?
“I’m still not where I want to be, but for today I’m happy and excited about the opportunity. It feels good to not be stressed anymore.’’
What does it feel to be able to play for your country?
“It’s a great honor. I really enjoyed it last year, so to be able to do it again this year in a different place, in front of different people, it’s a really cool experience and honor.’’
Essentially you’re playing up. What was it like going up against some of the older players this week?
“I think it was a good experience. We don’t usually get the opportunity to play against the best college players in the country, so to be able to do that it definitely shows you what you need to work on and how you compare to players that are at the level you’re trying to get to.’’
What type of emotions are you feeling knowing that you were selected as a finalist?
“Before they even started selecting names, me and Breanna Stewart were both pretty nervous. I grabbed her hand because this is something that I really want to be a part of. Even after being called I was still anxious to hear if they were going to call Moriah’s name and Kaleena’s name. It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, but I’m more happy for my friends and everyone else’s name who got called because this is a big deal for them, too.’’
Having been a part of the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship team, how did that prepare you for this week?
“Being on a USA team last year, I was just remembering how great of an experience it was and how much fun I had. I just wanted it to continue. When they called my name it was a huge sigh of relief.’’
What were you able to do this week that may have stood out to the selection committee?
“I think what stood out was the difference between last year and this year. We all know I’m young, but I think I’ve matured a lot since last year. On top of that, I think I played really good defense throughout the past couple of days. I just stayed focused and kept my composure, and my body language stayed positive the entire time.’’