Players, coaches reject criticism of trash talk, say it’s part of the game

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — It was the signature moment of last year’s national championship game.

With victory assured, LSU’s Angel Reese pointed to her ring finger and made a “you can’t see me” gesture (waving her hand in front of her face) toward Iowa’s Kaitlin Clark, who had made the same mistake earlier in the tournament. Kind of hinted at. ,

The move sparked a discussion over trash talk in the women’s game, which is being reignited as the two stars prepare to face off again in the Albany 2 regional final on Monday.

“I don’t think people realize it’s not personal,” Reese said. “Once we get out between those lines, if I see you walking down the street, it’s like, ‘Hey, girl, what’s going on? let’s hang out.’ I think people just take it as if we hate each other. Caitlin Clark and I don’t hate each other. I want everyone to understand this. It’s an extremely competitive sport.”

Clark agrees that trash talk is just part of the game. When she does this, she said, it is to excite herself and her teammates, not to tear down an opponent or get inside their head.

“We both want to win more than anything, and that’s how it should be when you’re a competitor and you get in a situation like this, whether it’s a national championship, whether it’s the Elite Eight,” she said.

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But Reese coach Kim Mulkey questions whether the players’ reactions and gestures go beyond a simple misunderstanding of competitive fire and veer into sexism, noting that no one is concerned about trash talk in the men’s game. .

“I choose not to focus on that because if you turn it on and watch a pro game you see it all the time,” she said. “I was a person who talked nonsense. I mean, thank God you weren’t all following me, cameras and everything. You’re out there, you’re trying to chase it.”

LSU guard Hailey Van Lith said she doesn’t expect people outside the game to understand it, especially those who have never played at this level.

Besides, he said, nonsense is entertaining.

“It’s part of why people want to watch sports,” he said. “I think, when you think about hockey and the fights, people love watching that. That’s why we don’t do it. This is our personality. “That’s what makes the game fun for us.”

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