Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore will forever be linked by more than just the birthday they share.
The former UConn stars were born seven years apart on June 11 and share an intense competitive spirit that both hope will help the United States’ women’s national team win a fifth straight Olympic gold medal at the London Games.
“The thing that makes them different than most other players is everyone thinks they are good,” said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma, who mentored both players at Connecticut. “Everyone that played every sport thinks they are good, but Maya and Dee when they step on the floor, they think they are best player on the floor and can prove it to you.
“There’s an intensity level that they play at that I’ve not seen matched very often. A mindset they bring to a team that is very, very rare.”
Much was made about comparing the two when Moore was playing at UConn. Auriemma was constantly asked which one was better and rarely would give a straight answer.
Looking at the numbers, it’s a toss-up.
Moore finished as the school’s leading scorer (3,036 career points) and helped guide the Huskies to an NCAA-record 90 straight wins. Taurasi’s resume at UConn included three national championships — one more than Moore — and she finished fifth on the scoring list (2,156 points).
“You couldn’t find two people who better exemplify what being a competitor is,” Auriemma said. “There are individual things that make them very different the same way I’m sure Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are two different people off the court in personality. However, put them in a competitive situation on the court and they have a commonality.”
Taurasi has her own theory as to why the two are so similar — the birthday. Taurasi turned 30 on Monday and Moore 23.
“I’m pretty big on stars and numbers,” Taurasi said. “I read a book about June 11, some pretty incredible people were born on that day. Look at the names and one thing a lot of them have in common is a drive to be the best.”
Among the other famous figures born on that date were Joe Montana and Vince Lombardi.
While Moore and Taurasi are both fierce competitors on the court, they are polar opposites off it.
“Maya is very guarded and a private person,” Auriemma said. “Dee’s everything right up in front of you. Diana’s always willing to extend herself and take risks while Maya’s much more cautious.”
Taurasi and Moore will spend their birthdays in different ways Monday.
Taurasi is out indefinitely with a strained left hip flexor. She hasn’t played for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in nearly two weeks and most likely won’t be back with them until after the Olympic break.
Moore has helped the Minnesota Lynx to a 9-0 record, matching the best start in league history.
“I think it’s really funny. It’s something I know I like to share with her,” Moore said. “It’s just something fun. I think more the competitors that we are is the thing I like to share with her and the winning. We definitely have different personalities.”
One other person who shares a birthday with Taurasi and Moore is Auriemma’s mother.
“It’s a great coincidence,” Taurasi said. “When I got to UConn, Coach didn’t tell me. Finally one day he was like, you know who you share a birthday with? It’s my mother. It brought us closer, a bond we share.”
Moore said she knew about the common birthday before she got to Connecticut.
“I read Coach’s book in high school and it’s in there. She’s great. Every time I see her she gives me a huge hug. That’s definitely a bond between all of us,” Moore said.
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