Team USA or team UCONN?

LONDON – Six members of the USA Women’s basketball teamand the team’s coach all have a connection to the University of Connecticut, and this team bonding is a key factor in a team’s success, they said.

Team takes a break in practice to listen to Coach Auriemma’s strategy. (Photo by Colin Brown)

Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, and Diana Taurasi all won a national championship together in 2002 with the Huskies and Maya Moore and Tina Charles added rings of their own in 2009 and 2010.  These three championships are all a part of head coach Geno Auriemma’s seven total national titles.

“I think it helps that six of us went to UCONN and we’re familiar and comfortable,” Bird said.

Running a lot of the same sets that they did at school helps the women learn the playbook.

“UCONN kind of has its own philosophy about a lot of plays and a lot of things are similar from when I was in school.  You don’t really remember the plays so much but you remember the concepts,” said Asjha Jones, one of Bird’s teammates.

Bird says that the women who played at UCONN have a close bond.

“Anybody will tell you, some of the friendships you form and the people you meet and the bonds you make in college kind of last a lifetime and for me,” she said. “I’ve played with three of the other women on this team and it’s definitely there.”

When the former Huskies are happy to play with one another once again, the team as a whole has a tight bond.

“It’s like old times reminiscing, but we’re also really close to the other players too,” said Jones.

 

An extended halftime: WNBA takes month break for Olympics

LONDON – The U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team has pulled the eyes of USA supporters towards television screens as they continue their 40-game winning streak and work towards another gold medal.

USA coach Geno Auriemma talks to the press after practice.
Photo by Kerry Crump

When the closing ceremonies end and the cameras are turned off, the athletes will return home to their WNBA careers. They’ll return to the court Aug. 16 after the league took a month hiatus during the Olympics.

While many of the athletes have played on the same court before, they have never been together on the same team. USA’s Head Coach Geno Auriemma from University of Connecticut said he can see the team’s drive.

“These 12 players, without knowing each other that well, without being together that long, expect winning and being in gold medal games,” said Auriemma

The USA team might be on a winning streak, but the WNBA players back home are not slacking off.

“It’s pretty much like training camp all over again, but not as brutal,” said Sylvia Fowles, a player on the USA team and the Chicago Sky.

For the Minnesota Lynx, the break hit at a good time in their season.

“We had a lot of players that were injured coming into the break so it was good for us, so that they could get healthy and push forward when we get back,” said USA Basketball and Lynx player Seimone Augustus.

Seimone Augustus, a USA Basketball and Minnesota Lynx player, catches rebounds between taking shots in practice.
Photo by Kerry Crump.

When Aug. 16rolls around after the Olympics, the women will go back to being competitors instead of teammates.

“I got a chance to hang with some people that I don’t normally hang with in the league, and hopefully this will kinda transfer over into the WNBA,” said Augustus.

Fowles has been through the jolt back to the WNBA a number of times and has her own way to combat it.

“Once I leave here, that’s just the mindset. You click back from USA basketball to WNBA , and just keep pushing forward,” said Fowles. “It’s about trying to get back in the groove of how your WNBA team plays, and learning their plays again.”

With their success in the past and current Olympics, athletes hope the support will roll over into the WNBA.

“We’ve been so successful with USA Basketball and women’s basketball in general that it has to transfer over,” said Augustus. “We’ve got the greatest players in the world. Hopefully this will get us a lot of publicity for the WNBA season.”