Don’t ask Geno Auriemma to apologize for the excellence of his teams.
After a 26-point win over Serbia in Rio Wednesday, the U.S. women’s basketball coach was once again asked about those who think the continued dominance of his teams is bad for the game. Here’s a transcript of what he said, provided by USA Basketball.
“We live in that Trumpian era where it’s okay to be sexist and degrade people that are good, just because they’re the opposite sex. We are what we are. We’re never going to apologize for being that good. We’re never going to apologize for setting a standard that other people aspire to achieve.” We got a guy in the pool with a USA swim cap on who nobody can beat. And if he wasn’t in swimming, there would be a lot of other guys with gold medals. So, it is what it is. The world needs times when such great, great teams or great individuals are doing great things, that other people can talk about and other people say, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great to be at that level?” These are Olympians. They’re supposed to play at a high level. They’re professionals, they’re supposed to put on a show, they’re supposed to entertain. So, what are we supposed to do? Just go out there and win by a little? We’re not bad for women’s basketball, just like I say at UConn, we’re not bad for women’s basketball. What’s bad for women’s basketball is when nobody’s great, because then you could say, “You know what? I don’t think anybody really knows how to play this game.” I think people will say that there are some really good teams out here and when you see them play each other, they’re great games. Serbia was up 20 the other day and lost to Canada. These are great games. We just happen to be somewhere else right now. That’s okay. I don’t mind.
These questions continue to hang around women’s basketball and Auriemma, who also leads the powerhouse UConn program. Earlier this year, Auriemma had an equally emphatic response when faced with similar criticism as his squad cruised to the program’s 11th, and fourth consecutive national title.