Auriemma: Women need to play well on world stage
Geno Auriemma said it's important for the U.S. women's basketball team to look good in its quest for a fifth straight gold medal.
The American coach said Thursday that his priority is winning, but that he hopes his team plays a brand of basketball that helps grow the game internationally.
''Hopefully we can create a style of play that is pleasing, enjoyable to watch and exciting and that's a challenge, and still win the gold medal,'' he said. ''Here we're on a world stage. So if it's ugly, we're going to harm the game more than help it. ... So just winning won't be good enough for us to raise the bar.''
The U.S. has run through its competition the last four Olympics, winning 33 straight games and four consecutive gold medals. Still, winning isn't just good enough anymore to help expand the interest in the game.
''Playing an ugly brand of basketball during these Olympics for any basketball team is not going to help our sport. The beauty of our sport is the beauty of the play,'' Auriemma said. ''Diana (Taurasi) and I are big soccer fans. Sue (Bird) is a huge soccer fan. We talk a lot about soccer.
We would love to play basketball the way Spain plays soccer,'' he said. ''The ball moves, we're not trying to be like Italy and win nothing-nothing on penalty kicks. I don't think that helps anybody.''
When told his soccer analogy could irritate some Italians, Auriemma wasn't concerned.
''I grew up in Italy so I can make that comment,'' the coach joked. ''I've seen some Italian blowouts where they've won 1-0.