Taurasi and Moore linked by more than birthday

Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore will forever be linked by more than

just the birthday they share.

The former UConn stars were born seven years apart on June 11

and share an intense competitive spirit that both hope will help

the United States’ women’s national team win a fifth straight

Olympic gold medal at the London Games.

”The thing that makes them different than most other players is

everyone thinks they are good,” said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma, who

mentored both players at Connecticut. ”Everyone that played every

sport thinks they are good, but Maya and Dee when they step on the

floor, they think they are best player on the floor and can prove

it to you.

”There’s an intensity level that they play at that I’ve not

seen matched very often. A mindset they bring to a team that is

very, very rare.”

Much was made about comparing the two when Moore was playing at

UConn. Auriemma was constantly asked which one was better and

rarely would give a straight answer.

Looking at the numbers, it’s a toss-up.

Moore finished as the school’s leading scorer (3,036 career

points) and helped guide the Huskies to an NCAA-record 90 straight

wins. Taurasi’s resume at UConn included three national

championships – one more than Moore – and she finished fifth on the

scoring list (2,156 points).

”You couldn’t find two people who better exemplify what being a

competitor is,” Auriemma said. ”There are individual things that

make them very different the same way I’m sure Larry Bird and

Michael Jordan are two different people off the court in

personality. However, put them in a competitive situation on the

court and they have a commonality.”

Taurasi has her own theory as to why the two are so similar –

the birthday. Taurasi turned 30 on Monday and Moore 23.

”I’m pretty big on stars and numbers,” Taurasi said. ”I read

a book about June 11, some pretty incredible people were born on

that day. Look at the names and one thing a lot of them have in

common is a drive to be the best.”

Among the other famous figures born on that date were Joe

Montana and Vince Lombardi.

While Moore and Taurasi are both fierce competitors on the

court, they are polar opposites off it.

”Maya is very guarded and a private person,” Auriemma said.

”Dee’s everything right up in front of you. Diana’s always willing

to extend herself and take risks while Maya’s much more

cautious.”

Taurasi and Moore will spend their birthdays in different ways

Monday.

Taurasi is out indefinitely with a strained left hip flexor. She

hasn’t played for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in nearly two weeks

and most likely won’t be back with them until after the Olympic

break.

Moore has helped the Minnesota Lynx to a 9-0 record, matching

the best start in league history.

”I think it’s really funny. It’s something I know I like to

share with her,” Moore said. ”It’s just something fun. I think

more the competitors that we are is the thing I like to share with

her and the winning. We definitely have different

personalities.”

One other person who shares a birthday with Taurasi and Moore is

Auriemma’s mother.

”It’s a great coincidence,” Taurasi said. ”When I got to

UConn, Coach didn’t tell me. Finally one day he was like, you know

who you share a birthday with? It’s my mother. It brought us

closer, a bond we share.”

Moore said she knew about the common birthday before she got to

Connecticut.

”I read Coach’s book in high school and it’s in there. She’s

great. Every time I see her she gives me a huge hug. That’s

definitely a bond between all of us,” Moore said.