Moore: US hoop star wants to be like 'Meek'
LONDON (AP) - Maya Moore wants to be like "Meek.''
The Olympic rookie has always tried to model her game after three-time gold medalist Tamika Catchings.
Since she began playing, the 23-year-old Moore has been impressed by Catchings' energy, seemingly never taking a possession off on offense or defense.
"When I first was coming up, people were calling me, 'Little Catch','' Moore said. "I was always impressed how hard she played and how passionate she is. That's the way I am. That's the way I love to play.
"It's great to see players like that because it's contagious. It's important for people under you and watching you to see how it should be done.''
Catchings' high-energy play has been a staple of the American team and now the Moore is making her mark the same way, disrupting opponents with her relentless effort. The duo will try and help the U.S. close out pool play undefeated with a victory over China on Sunday.
"When I get in the game, I just want to cause chaos for the other team as well as I can,'' Moore said. "I feel like I've got some athletic ability and some long arms, quick hands so I might as well use them for good. I try to get in the passing lane, get a tip-in, get a steal and hopefully it will cause some momentum for my team.''
Just like Catchings, who is impressed by Moore's willingness to learn.
"I've been around a lot of players that have been good who don't want to learn from anybody - 'I'm good enough that I can handle it by myself.''' said Catchings, 33. "With her you tell her something and she does it.''
And whenever Catchings says something, it usually starts with playing hard.
"One of the things I've always talked about when we go out there is that there's a lot of people in the stands who have never seen us play and never seen women's basketball,'' Catchings said. "I want when they leave, they might not know my name but they'll know my number and how she's doing this and she was doing that.''
Moore, who stands at 6-feet, and the 6-1 Catchings have helped the Americans cruise through their first four contests at the London Games, winning by an average of nearly 35 points. A victory over China on Sunday would be the Americans' 38th-straight in Olympic play and would give them the top seed in the group for the quarterfinals.
"We are just trying to get better every game,'' coach Geno Auriemma said. "Every game from here on out is a must-win game for us to accomplish our goals.''
Moore came off the bench for the first few games of the tournament before starting against the Czech Republic. She's averaging 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, yet her impact can't be measured by stats.
"She is just a high energy player. She plays every possession to the end and not everybody does that,'' said Auriemma, who also coached Moore in college at Connecticut. "So for Maya every defensive possession is an opportunity to get a steal. Every shot is an opportunity to get a rebound. It's just her makeup. It's who she is.
"She has been like that since her freshman year of college. I am not surprised that she is doing what she is doing, because she works incredibly hard at it. As hard as any player I have ever seen at any level ever.''
Moore has been a championship run the last 12 months.
She helped the Minnesota Lynx win their first WNBA title last fall and followed it up with Euro League and Spanish League championships this winter as part of Ros Casares.
Now she hopes to cap it off with Olympic gold.
Winning it all in London will make Moore part of an exclusive club - she would be just the seventh women's player to win titles in college, the WNBA, the FIBA world championship and the Olympics.
She's been a winner at every level, putting up staggering numbers. Since entering high school, she has a 326-16 mark. That doesn't even include her perfect 26-0 record while playing for USA basketball.
To keep that U.S. streak alive, the Americans will have to beat China, which won its first three games in the Olympics before getting routed by Turkey on Friday. A victory over the U.S. could give China the top spot in the quarterfinals.
"The U.S. is a very tough team and we will do what we can against them,'' China coach Sun Fengwu said through a translator. "We will try some special things against them.''
Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dougfeinberg