Diana Taurasi is from Chino,
CA. and attended Don Lugo High School where she was named the 2000
Naismith and Parade Magazine National High School Player
of the Year. Taurasi finished her prep career
ranked second to Miller in state history with 3,047 points
Taurasi's parents are Mario and
Liliana Her father was born in Italy
and raised in Argentina,
also native land of her mother Liliana. Her parents moved to the US before she
Taurasi enrolled at the University of Connecticut (UConn)
and led the women's basketball team to three consecutive NCAA championships.
Taurasi also received many personal accolades at UConn including the 2003 and 2004 Naismith
College Player of the Year awards, the 2003 Wade Trophy, and the 2003
Associated Press Player of the Year award. In addition to the national
recognition she received during her time at UConn, Taurasi was held in legendary status by many Connecticut fans. She
averaged 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in her collegiate
career. During her time at UConn, she compiled a
record of 139 wins and 8 losses.
collegiate career, Taurasi was selected first overall
in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, a team that went
8-26 in the 2003 season. In 2004,Taurasi was named to
the Western Conference All Star team and won the WNBA Rookie of the
In 2005, Taurasi was an All Star
for the second straight year,Former NBA coach Paul Westhead became the Mercury's head coach prior to the 2006
season and brought his up-tempo style to Phoenix.
Their roster was further bolstered by the addition of rookie Cappie Pondexter, the #2 overall selection in the 2006 WNBA Draft.
Taurasi flourished under Westhead's system, leading the league in scoring and
earning a third straight trip to the All Star Game. She broke Katie
Smith's league records for points in a season (741 during the 2006
season) and points in a game (47 vs. Houston on August 10).
In 2007, Taurasi finally reached the WNBA playoffs. Diana and Pondexter led the Mercury to their first WNBA title. With
this victory Taurasi became just the sixth player
ever to win an NCAA title, a WNBA title as well as an Olympic
Taurasi's Effort Leads U.S. to Final
Overcomes Injury and Illness: United States
By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 22, 2008
BEIJING, Aug. 21 -- Diana Taurasi had scratches under her right eye and the thumb
on her shooting hand was throbbing. And, as she answered reporters' questions,
she kept pausing, turning and coughing into her warmup
The U.S. women's basketball team had advanced to the
Olympic gold medal game by defeating Russia, 67-52, but this had been
nothing like her team's earlier romps. After winning their first six games by
an average of 43.2 points, with no team finishing within 36 points of them, the
Americans trailed late in the first half before pulling away.
When asked about
her persistent cough, Taurasi attempted to make her
21-point, 9-rebound effort the stuff of legend. "That's a Jordan flu
right there," Taurasi said, referring to Michael
Jordan's legendary flu game in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
Taurasi then raised her eyebrows
and smiled, anticipating the ensuing laughter. The U.S. team certainly needed Taurasi to have a special performance to reach the Olympic
final for the fourth consecutive time. The Americans will face Australia for the third time in a row, after it
90-56, in the other semifinal.
The United States
trailed 30-23 with less than three minutes left in the first half, when Taurasi ignited the comeback with two three-pointers during
a 10-0 run. She added another three-pointer during a 12-0 third-quarter run
that turned a five-point deficit into a 45-38 lead that Russia was
unable to overcome.
"It was one
of those games where you knock down shots when you need them," Taurasi said after making five three-pointers. "I
think that's the beauty of our team -- on any given night, any of us can do it.
It was just my turn."
With the United States
relying mostly on the inside play of veterans Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie and
Olympic newcomer Sylvia Fowles this tournament, Taurasi has had to pick her spots. She led the team in
scoring with 17 points in the debut against the Czech Republic,
but had only scored in double figures two other times before Thursday, when
Leslie and Fowles were unable to provide their usual
"Diana is a
big-time, money player," U.S. Coach Anne Donovan said of Taurasi, a three-time NCAA champion at Connecticut. "You could tell she was
ready for this game. The bigger the game, the bigger Diana is, and her
energy, players feed off that."
Taurasi's greatest contribution may
have been settling down her teammates during a difficult first half in which U.S. players couldn't
make their shots and the Russians wouldn't miss. "She probably, out of all
of us, stayed the most focused and just told us, 'Hey, guys relax,' "
forward Tamika Catchings said. "It's
not like Diana to try to relax. She's usually out there trying to play football
on the basketball court."
Taurasi has boundless energy and
is still -- even during the national anthem, she is bouncing side-to-side. She
frowned when informed that she was actually a calming influence with her words.
"I say it in a fiery way, though," she said.
One win from her
second Olympic gold medal, Taurasi is taking a more
prominent leadership role after deferring to Leslie, Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley four years ago in Athens. "In 2004, we were the young
kids and didn't really have much of a hand in it, but we learned so much
from them," she said. "When it's your turn you have to really step
Taurasi said she didn't have a
problem with American Becky Hammon playing for Russia, acknowledging that while she loves America, she
has an Italian father and an Argentine mother, so she finds herself rooting for
other countries at times. "I do want Argentina
to beat Nigeria
in soccer," she said with a laugh about the men's Olympic soccer final.
"I just do."
Taurasi also uses an Italian
passport to play for the Russian EuroLeague team Spartak Moscow during the winter. With so many players on
the floor -- including five from Team USA
-- playing professional basketball in Russia, the game pitted her against
several people she's played with. "It's been a real crazy dynamic with
that. I have some really good friends over there," Taurasi
said of the Russian national team.
But you couldn't
tell. At one point in the second half, former Connecticut teammate Svetlana Abrosimova leaned in a bit too close and Taurasi elbowed her in the face. Abrosimova
dropped to the floor, holding the right side of her face and weeping as she
moved downcourt. "Games like this are just
fun. You don't get to play many of these. You can feel it. You're fighting
every possession. I got scratched up, jammed the thumb," Taurasi said, before pausing. "I'm sure they've got
some bumps and bruises, too."