New York Liberty forward Tina Charles has been selected to the 12-member 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team, which will compete for its sixth-straight Olympic gold medal this summer in Rio. It is the second Olympic selection for Charles, who won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. She is the first-ever active member of the New York Liberty to compete for the United States in the Olympics. Check out her thoughts about the honor and what she is looking forward to.
What does it mean for you to be named to this team?
For me it’s a blessing to be one of the 12. I don’t take anything for granted. I respect all of the finalists who were in the pool. There’s a lot of great talent, and it could’ve gone either way. I’m so blessed and super happy, and I appreciate the fact that I’m a member of this team. I’m still scrambling for words. Even though I’ve already earned a gold medal and I’ve had that experience, anything can happen. Looking at the amount of talent that comes into this league that USA Basketball knows of, anything could’ve happened, so I’m blessed. It’s awesome.
What do you bring to the team, how can you help the USA win a sixth-straight gold medal?
As far as that goes, I’ll say consistency. Whether it’s to run the floor hard, rebound, whatever is needed of me, I am going to do to the best of my ability. I believe that I’m very coachable, and I know coach Auriemma’s system and what he expects out of his players. So having that mindset and going through the training camps and being coached by him since 2010 when I had my first USA training camp, I know what is expected of me. And I will try to do that to the best of my ability.
What does it mean for you to play for coach Geno Auriemma again?
It is amazing. Coach Auriemma, he is a great teacher. His formula is to make you the best, and he gets the most out of every player and he just gets the best out of them. It’s an experience that I’m really glad that I can have again at this level. Both of us received our first gold medal at the same time at the 2010 Worlds (FIBA World Championship). And to be able to have that experience with him again, it’s going to be really sweet.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
More than anything I’m looking forward to the camaraderie with the team. The camaraderie is what I look forward to the most, to have that group of 12, that talent, you’re able to learn from a lot of people, both off and on the court. So just to have that camaraderie, and knowing that it could be a couple of the players’ last go round, just to soak it in and have a good experience with them.