USA Women's National Team Gathers For Seattle Training Camp
May 11, 2012 • Seattle, Wash.
The members of the 2012 USA Basketball Women's National Team gathered in Seattle on Friday for their first training camp as a 12-member team. Highlighted by an exhibition game against China at 7:30 p.m. (PDT) on May 12 at Key Arena, the weekend is the start of the USA's quest for a fifth straight gold medal in the Olympic Games.
The timing may not seem ideal, with WNBA exhibition games already underway and the start of the 2012 WNBA regular season opening on May 18, but for the U.S. team the opportunity is one they won't let slip by.
"We talked a lot with our coaching staff about how much you can accomplish in two hours," said Geno Auriemma, USA and University of Connecticut head coach. "We want to set the tone for what we want to get done. Not just in our first practice tonight or this weekend, but going all the way through London. We have two hours tonight, an hour of shoot-around and an exhibition game tomorrow and a scrimmage on Sunday. In that limited amount of time we aren't going to get it all done, but hopefully we get to the most important stuff. So the players know, this is what they want, this is what they expects and now let's go get it done."
With most of the USA players, along with many other Americans, playing in the EuroLeague, basketball has become a year-round sport for women. From international basketball in the winter to the WNBA each Spring, players must balance a hectic schedule, and this year is no different. In fact, seven U.S. team members competed in the EuroLeague final four this past April.
"When you are playing year-round, you do things like try and limit your playing time, which I did a great job of this year," said Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), who played Turkey. "I didn't start the season over there until December, then I had a Christmas break, and I went back over in January. I expect to do that this winter coming up as well, and I think that's what I'm going to have to do from here on out if I want to play another five years."
Training camp is the first and last time the team will assemble before the WNBA takes a break from its schedule for the Olympics. In addition to Saturday's friendly game, the USA will have one practice on Friday evening and a closed scrimmage against Japan on Sunday morning.
After that, he team will gather again on July 14 in Washington, D.C., prior to an exhibition contests against Brazil on July 16. From there, the USA travels to face the Great Britain team in Manchester, England, on July 18, and the USA is scheduled to play in a four-team tournament hosted by Turkey in Istanbul, July 21-24.
"I'm really preparing the best I can, " said Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream). "It's tough to transition from your WNBA team to USA Basketball, but it can be done and I'm just excited about the opportunity. I am just going with the flow, and I want to enjoy every minute of it, learn from other players and get better. Learn from coach and do what I need to do. People dream about this opportunity. It makes you very grateful."
The Olympic Games women's basketball competition begins on July 28, and while the schedule is not yet set, the USA has been drawn into Group A and will face Angola, China and the first, second and fourth place finishing teams from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Touranment in the preliminary round. The top four teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the Aug. 7 quarterfinals, with the winners playing in the semifinals on Aug. 9 and the medal games on Aug. 11.
Auriemma will be assisted by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.