Head coach Geno Auriemma of the USA Basketball Women's National Team and Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women's National Team Director, spoke to the media Thursday about what to expect from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team ahead of the group's training camp opening Saturday.
The 12-woman team has yet to gather formally as Team USA, but looks forward to pausing their WNBA seasons - the league will take a break starting Saturday and will resume August 26 - to gather for training camp before heading out to Rio.
"They haven't completely shifted their focus yet to the Olympic Team," Callan said of the athletes. "I know they have sort of one foot in our door and certainly a major foot in the WNBA door still."
But Auriemma said the chemistry certain players already have will make up for a relatively short training camp. Four team members - Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen - are teammates on the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, and join two other sets of two WNBA teammates on the national team.
"Having players who play together as teammates in the WNBA...that obviously really, really helps," Auriemma said. He pointed out that nine players on this year's national team were also together on the 2012 Olympic Team in London.
"There is a history of being together which, without that continuity, it would be very, very difficult," Auriemma said. "All those things plus the players' willingness to kind of give up a lot of themselves to be a part of this I think is the biggest factor in why we're so good."
Auriemma also talked about the sacrifices each player - nine of whom have already won at lease one gold medal - must make, comparing the team to an orchestra.
"Everybody that's playing their particular instrument may be the best in the world at that," he said. "But that doesn't mean you get to do your own thing, because then all of a sudden it's not an orchestra anymore, it's just a bunch of individuals trying to show how good they are."
He praised the ability of the athletes to look at the big picture in order to figure out their particular role on the team.
"They are really, really good at sizing up the situation and saying, ‘OK, what does this team need from me,' not like, ‘this is what I do on my team, so this is what I'm going to do here,'" he said. "We're very, very fortunate that the players...really think that, feel it, buy into it and live it everyday."
The USA National Team will hold its first practice Saturday in Los Angeles.