USA Women's U19 National Team Takes 86-46 Friendly Exhibition Over France
-- Skylar Diggins, Nnemkadi Ogwumike Voted USA Team Co-Captains --
July 20, 2009 - Bangkok, Thailand
|Carol Owens takes a moment to talk strategy with her team.|
In a warm-up for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, every member of the USA U19 World Championship Team scored, including five in double digits, as the U.S. defeated France 86-46 in a friendly exhibition contest on Monday evening in Bangkok, Thailand. Prior to the contest, Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.) and Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford / Cypress, Texas), both of whom were on the 2008 USA U18 National Team, were voted by their teammates to serve as co-captains of the '09 USA U19 Worlds squad.
Shenise Johnson (Miami, Fla. / Henrietta, N.Y.) and C'eira Ricketts (Arkansas / Louisville, Ky.) led the balanced scoring charge against France with 12 points each; while Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. /Stafford, Texas), Diggins and Chay Shegog (North Carolina / Stafford, Va.) posted 11 points each. Johnson and Shegog just missed out on double-doubles with nine boards apiece, while Ogwumike also hauled in nine rebounds to go with her six points.
As the two-time defending U19 World Championship gold medalists, the USA will attempt to make it three straight golds at the '09 U19 Worlds, which begin on July 23 and run through Aug. 2 in Bangkok, Thailand. The U.S. will scrimmage Australia on July 21, followed by practice on July 22 and begin U19 World Championship play against Spain on July 23.
-It's good to finally get a game under our belt," said USA and Northern Illinois University head coach Carol Owens. -I think we needed that. We've been practicing twice a day in the States. To get here and try to get adjusted as soon as we can, I think this was good for us. You always want to know where you are at this point. It was not bad for our first friendly game, but we still have a ways to go. Our emphasis has to be on the defensive end and we need to continue to be focused on our defense throughout the tournament."
-The game was actually kind of physical," said Johnson. -Not in a strong way, but just like slapping and a lot of hands, a lot of grabs, a lot of guard play out in the front that normally we get called for in college. It was fun though, overall. I kind of liked the fact that the refs let us play a little bit. We definitely have to get our chemistry going. I thought we did okay. I felt like we could still do better."
The USA jumped out to an early 10-point lead, 14-4, with 3:18 to play in the first quarter and never looked back. By the end of the first stanza, the gap was 14 points, 20-6, as seven U.S. team members scored in the opening period. Just three minutes into the second quarter, the American women were up 31-8 and cruised to a 44-19 halftime lead. During the first half, the USA's defense held France to 6-of-33 (.182) shooting from the field.
-I think we came out well with intensity," said Ogwumike. -We could come out with a little bit more. We executed pretty good for the first game. I guess with the experience as we play more teams and we get more acquainted with the crowds, this country, the gyms, and the atmosphere, I think all of our communication will get better. The basics and fundamentals of basketball will really come together. We know how each other plays. Everyone can score and we really need to play more as a team. Not that we're not, we just need to come together more."
The USA's lead continued to grow as the Americans outscored the French 18-11 in the third quarter and 24-16 in the fourth for the eventual 40-point victory.
Johnson and Kelly Faris (Heritage Christian H.S. / Plainfield, Ind.) dished out three assists apiece as the team had nine in all.
-This was our first time together in a game," said Diggins. -Like every team, we have things we need to work on. We understand that and tomorrow we'll play a really good team in Australia. That's going to be good for us to measure where we're at and where we stand. Tomorrow in practice we'll try to knock some things out, try to work on the kinks before we get started on the actual games."
The U.S. dominated the glass, owning a 61-27 rebounding advantage. However, the Americans, who forced 20 French turnovers, turned the ball over 21 times. The U.S. shot 48.4 percent (31-64 FGs) from the field, despite going 0-of-7 from 3-point, and forced France into shooting just 27.0 percent (17-63 FGs) of its field goal attempts.
France was led by Allison Vernerey, who tallied 10 points and seven rebounds.
The USA's co-captains were both honored at being selected by their peers.
-Being named one of the captains really means a lot," said the Notre Dame-bound Diggins. -I really wasn't expecting it. I was just going with the flow. It says a lot about what the team thinks about me and the role that I need to step up and take. That definitely flattered me. I was taken aback. I definitely need to take a leadership role, a bigger one than I thought. I'll definitely try to be a vocal leader. When I'm out on the court I'm going to make sure everybody's communicating, everybody's talking, and just try to keep us together."
-I feel a lot of respect to be named co-captain with Skylar," said Ogwumike. -I'm not surprised Skylar was named captain, I voted for her myself. I've been trying my best to talk to everyone, get everyone involved and not have any people lagging. I'm going to keep on doing that and hopefully that'll intensify our game."
Owens is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Amanda Butler of the University of Florida and Bill Fennelly of Iowa State University.
The 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship features 16 national teams comprised of athletes 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990) that qualified through their FIBA zone tournaments.
The 16 teams have been drawn into four preliminary round pools of four teams each, and the USA has been placed into Group D with China, Mali and Spain. Group A features Argentina, Australia, France and South Korea; Group B includes Brazil, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Thailand; while Group C includes Canada, Japan, Russia and Tunisia.
The U.S. is slated to open preliminary round play against Spain on July 23, followed by China on July 24 and Mali on July 25. The top three finishing teams in each preliminary round group will advance to the July 27-29 second round, the quarterfinals will be played on July 31, semifinal action is scheduled for Aug. 1 and the gold medal will be contested on Aug. 2.