KU's Tyshawn Taylor And Danielle McCray Talk About Gold Medal Experiences

July 15, 2009


KU’s Tyshawn Taylor And Danielle McCray Talk About Gold Medal Experiences

Kansas basketball players Tyshawn Taylor and Danielle McCray each earned a gold medal this month after winning championships in their respective tournaments.

Taylor, a sophomore led his team in scoring with an average of 10.8 points in eight games to win the FIBA U19 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.

McCray, a senior, helped lead her team to win the USA Women’s World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia. McCray was the second leading scorer on Team USA shooting 56.7 percent.

Below are quotes from the athletes from Wednesday’s press conference.

Senior guard-forward Danielle McCray

On her experience in Serbia:

“I think it’s helped me become a better leader. I learned a lot of stuff being around tremendous girls. As far as my experience from it, playing with and against great athletes has helped, too. This experience has helped me become a better player.”

On the coaching transition:

“There were some times in practice where we did the same drills that we do here at KU. It was neat that I had a coach that said the same thing and didn’t go against what Coach Bonnie (Henrickson) was doing. I had to learn different things, but everything that Bonnie taught us, our head coach agreed with. It turns out everything Bonnie says is right.”

On the feeling of wearing a gold medal:

“It’s a great feeling to walk around and have people congratulate you all the time. The hard work has paid off. We had training camp, two-a-days and had to go overseas, where we had never been, to do something we had never done before. It was a great feeling. Once that buzzer went off in that championship game, it was pretty amazing.”

On the hardest player she guarded:

“I would say Maya Moore (UCONN) on my team. There were good girls on the other teams, but when she played in practice, she showed that she is a hard worker. She does everything, including the little things, and it was tough to guard her. But it was fun to guard her, go against her and play with her, too.”

On if guarding good players helped her improve:

“It did help. In two-a-days we (Maya Moore) always went against each other because that’s how Coach did the match-ups to help us. I think it helped when we went to Serbia because Coach had me guarding some of the best players on the other teams. That’s totally different from playing at Kansas because usually Sade (Morris) is guarding the other team’s best player. I think it has helped me have a defensive mentality now after guarding one of the best players in the country.”

On her experience aside from basketball:

“There were a lot of different things, like the people, the language, and seeing things on the historical tour. It is pretty neat over there. The tour was something that will stick with me. Also, my teammates and how well we bonded together will stay with me. Being over there for two weeks with no TV was pretty hard to do.”

On what she missed about America:

“I missed everything. We were traveling and didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t have internet in our rooms. The guys one level up had internet, but we had to go outside to use it. But that and TV were things I missed the most. Basically, when you’re in your room, you’re in and not doing anything but talking to your teammates.”

On winning her first championship:

“I haven’t won any team championships, but for individual sports, I was the three-time high school state champion in shotput, discus and triple jump for track. Playing in the WNIT, making it that far and then losing was really hard. When we played in this championship I had the same feelings and emotions, but after we won, it was pretty amazing.”

Sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor

On the feeling of wearing a gold medal:

“It feels good. It’s a great honor to go represent your country and then win. We made a lot of people happy. I was happy. I felt like all the hard work paid off. We practiced a lot for two and a half weeks.”

On gaining confidence through the experience:

“I knew I could play well like that, I just think other people didn’t really know how much I can do. I think a lot of people were surprised, but I wasn’t. I think I had confidence before, it’s just helping me because I know I’m going to be around great players this year, too. It helped me be a more-rounded player, being able to do everything: score, play defense or get assists.”

On what he’ll take away from the experience:

“New Zealand is an interesting place. We didn’t really do much except play basketball, but we went out a couple of times to look around. We went on a boat ride. We stayed in a nice city. I really enjoyed being around my teammates. For a group of guys that were together for a short amount of time, I think we jelled a lot. We have fun with each other, we were together all the time no matter where we went, and all 12 of us really liked each other.”

On bragging about his gold medal:

“I’ve just been trying to get some rest. I’ll be bragging later, like next week.”

On Coach (Bill) Self’s reaction:

“I haven’t really talked to him. He just told me to get some rest I haven’t told him much about it. He told me he was proud of me, that I played really well and that he heard good things about me. He seemed really excited for me, but I haven’t really spoken with him much.”

On the hardest player he guarded:

“When we were in training camp in Colorado, we scrimmaged against the 21-and-under team, and I had to guard Evan Turner from Ohio State. He’s tough. There were a bunch of guys on the 21-and-under team that will probably go pro in the next couple of years. We scrimmaged them three times and beat them twice. They had a bunch of big-name all-stars on their team, and we didn’t really have that on our team. We just wanted to win.”

On improving through the experience:

“We were playing a different game with different rules. They used more NBA-style rules. Guys were taking extra steps and the refs wouldn’t call it. It helped me prepare for the next level because they didn’t call anything. I found myself doing little things and getting more physical with bigger guys. I think I got better in different aspects of my game.”

On his confidence level for the season:

“I’m just going to play. I have been trying to be more aggressive and take what the defense gives me. I think I always do that. If my shot comes, I will take it.”

On the level of competition:

“It was good. We played against guys my age, so it wasn’t the best of the best, but for the age group, I think it was good. We played against some guys that play professionally over there, so there was a lot of great talent. It wasn’t as good as what I see here because I’m usually playing against older guys.”