No Pain Jayne
For the first time since winter, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) is going full-tilt in practice, and she describes that feeling in one word: ĎFun.í
Appel, the 6-foot-4 post presence with a deep USA Basketball history, is one of the 2010 USA Womenís World Championship Team hopefuls who participated in the squadís four-day training camp in the Washington D.C., area. †With a roster missing a number of players still involved with the WNBA Playoffs, those training sessions have been intense. But Appel has looked forward to each one.
After all, the 2010 Stanford graduate was unable to play in the 2009 World University Games because of a knee injury. And she also missed the USA Womenís National Teamís training camps this past fall and spring, not to mention a portion of the WNBA season, because of injuries.
But after being added to the USA Womenís National Team roster in August and now finally able to participate unrestricted in training, Appel is in Ďspongeí mode, taking in all the advice from head coach Geno Auriemma and trying to make the 12-player USA World Championship Team roster.
As the team now moves its training camp to Hartford, Conn., Appel spoke to USA Basketball about how it feels to be out on the floor.
How has the team training gone in Washington, D.C.?
Itís been good. I think each day, thereís been improvement both individually and as a team. I think every day has been better than the last. Weíre starting to play together which I think is the most important thing, having that chemistry on the court. So itís been a positive experience so far. Iíve really enjoyed it.
Is the feel for the group going to be different once all the players still in the WNBA Playoffs filter in?
Oh, of course. I think, obviously, youíll have great talents coming in with Candice Dupree and Sue (Bird). Thereís a ton of talent still coming in, and thatíll kind of change the dynamics a little bit. I think right now everyoneís just out here working hard and trying to make everyone else better around them. So thatís a pretty good attitude to have.
Of the players in training camp now, how have you formed relationships with the other players?
Well, Iíve come to a couple of the previous National Team (training camps). I havenít been able to play in all of them, but Iíve kind of gotten to know a couple players Ė Seimone (Augustus), Lindsay Whalen, obviously Iíve known Tina (Charles) forever, so coming back and seeing her is just kind of like coming back and seeing old friends. I think overall, itís important to get the off-the-court chemistry as well, so, you know, people are chatting it up on the bus, so itís been good for us.
Has your previous USA Basketball experience prepared you for this?
Well, I played in the (FIBA Americas U18 Championship) one year that was in the United States, and I think itís a little bit different when youíre playing and youíre the host country. But I also played in the Pan American Games in Brazil. I think that was probably the best preparation for me, individually, because I was playing with a lot of older and experienced players and being in a foreign country with them all. So I was really relying on their leadership to kind of get me through. And I think itís kind of a similar thing for us young players right now. Weíre just kind of looking at whoís doing what, and trying to pick up on that. So it was a good thing that I had those two experiences under my belt, but Iím looking to, obviously, make it another experience with this.
Have you taken a different approach to this training camp, now being fully healthy?
I mean, itís just fun. Thatís kind of how I look at it right now. I canít remember the last time I got to come in and practice and be fully healthy. I think itís been since February that I have had a fully healthy, super intense practice. And itís been really fun, itís been a great opportunity for me. And I donít think Iíve really looked forward to practice like this for a long time, so thatís good. Even when it is so challenging and intense, itís a good feeling to be enjoying it.
What was your first professional season like?
It was new. It was definitely an experience very different from college. People prepare you for that and tell you, but you donít really know until you kind of go through it. And itís so fast, itís such a fast transition, especially if you go all the way to the Final Four, you know, within 56 hours youíre on a new team and in a new city, experiencing other things. So, itís just really quick. But I had great veterans in Ruth Riley and Sophia Young and Becky Hammon that kind of helped me along the way. Even though I was injured for the first third of the season, it was still pretty helpful.
Whatís it like playing for Geno Auriemma?
I love it. I really enjoy seeing a different coachís perspective and trying to add what they say to my game and the way that I learn and think about the game. Iíve kind of just come in with the attitude of trying to be a sponge and pick up on everything Ė the little tidbits of information, the attitude that he wants you to have on the court, how he wants the players to act on and off the court. So, Iím just trying to be a sponge, thatís the best thing I can probably say.
Best-case scenario, how would you like the training to go as the team heads to Connecticut?
I think obviously, best-case scenario, make the team and go fight for a world championship.