Bienvenidos: USA Women's U18 National Team Arrives in Buenos Aires
After two weeks of practice, including stints in Colorado Springs, Colo., Washington, D.C. and Buenos Aires, Argentina, the 2008 USA Women's U18 National Team is just hours away from its first game of the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women. Before tip, today at 4 p.m. eastern time, hear from USA and Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens on the team and a few of the players on their time in Argentina, as well as a bonus photo gallery!
USA Head Coach Carol Owens
On the team's growth on the court:
I think we've come a ways from where we started in Colorado Springs to how we ended in Washington, D.C. There has definitely been progress. The players are getting comfortable with each other, which is good. They've all come from different AAU teams and high school teams, and for them to come together like they have is good to see. The next thing for us is that we just need to play. After the first game we can assess where we are, but they are getting a little restless, and they just need to play. They're tired of beating up on each other.
And I'm anxious to get going too. You know, we've practiced for two weeks, and I've been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. The good thing is we get started tomorrow.
How would you describe this team?
I think this is a great group of young girls. They're very nice, and they are learning. It's hard to sum it up in one word, but they are progressing. They really soak in a lot of the things we are telling them, and it's all so new to them. Even going over seas -- only a couple of them have even done that before. That's a challenge in itself. I think this team is young, but yet hungry. I hate to use the word young, but they are wide-eyed. Everything is new to them, and I think they are enjoying the experience.
On the team off the court:
It's a different environment for them here. They don't know the language, we don't have the convenience of a car and we wouldn't know where things were anyway. Having the opportunity to get out and see the city and do a little shopping is always good, and we did that today. We went downtown and had lunch. Each day gets more comfortable for them.
It's a very pretty city. The people were friendly, and we meet a lot of nice Argentineans on the streets. Adjusting to the weather was really the hardest part because you're used to being at home in shorts and t-shirts. When we got here it was like 40 degrees and raining, and it was hard to get used to that in July.
On the team:
I think we're ready. After all the hard work we put in these past few weeks, the altitude in Colorado to finally hitting our stride in D.C., now we are able to practice where we are going to play, and we're ready to start. We will finally be able to get on the court and go hard at other people besides each other. We really need that.
On the competition:
We are all staying in the same dorms, and we see each other at least once a day. We size each other up, all the teams do, but we are just keeping our eyes on the prize and trying not to add any bulletin board material.
It's a lot different when you don't have all the luxuries you are used to having at home. I miss my cell phone, TV, fast food and stuff like that. It definitely makes you appreciate having those things. And we miss our families too. A lot of us, like me, are really close to our moms and most of us haven't been away from our families for three weeks before, especially this far away. It's character building, though.
Yesterday I kept forgetting that I was in Argentina, but it sunk in more today. Going out and seeing the culture and the city was really cool. I bought two shirts for people back at home. I thought it was interesting how they are so into the tango here. It's on the streets, on t-shirts, it was everywhere. The culture here is really different than ours, and that was cool to see.