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the reaction to Liz Cambage’s  return to the Shock.

Liz Cambage said she really wanted to join the Tulsa Shock last August for the second half of the WNBA season, but things didn’t work out.

She was drained from helping her native Australia to a bronze medal finish in the London Summer Olympics.

“I wanted to come back so bad last year. It wasn’t until I got onto the plane, and I had a bit of an event, a breakdown,” she said.

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is over?

Think again!

From the Women’s Sports Foundation:

While girls’ share of high school athletic participation opportunities increased between 1993-1994 and 1999-2000, progress toward gender equity slowed and, perhaps, even reversed direction during the 2000s, a newly released report by the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls (SHARP Center), indicated. The SHARP Center, a University of Michigan and Women’s Sports Foundation collaboration, today released its latest research report, providing valuable insight into the state of high school athletics and the inequalities that still exist in the U.S. public school system, despite the passing of the landmark legislation, Title IX, 40 years ago.

“In the wake of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, the state of women’s sports in the U.S. has generated great praise, and many believe that girls and women have finally achieved athletic equality. However, these findings suggest that we simply aren’t there yet. In fact, we are moving farther and farther away from equality with the cutting of interscholastic sports,” expressed Kathryn Olson, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “It goes beyond the physical benefits of sport. Sports are an integral part of the educational experience; students who participate in sports are shown to achieve greater academic success. The decline of interscholastic athletic opportunities should be looked at as an erosion of the educational capacity.

Key findings from “The Decade of Decline: Gender Equity in High School Sports” include:

•    Athletic participation opportunities expanded across the decade, but boys’ allotment grew more than girls. By 2009-10, 53 athletic opportunities were offered for every 100 boys, compared with 41 opportunities for every 100 girls.

•    Despite the level of economic resources, the opportunity gap between girls and boys continued to increase. By 2010 girls participated in greater numbers than in the beginning of the decade; however, girls’ share of total athletic opportunities decreased across the decade as compared to boys’ share. During a decade of expanding athletic participation opportunities across U.S. high schools, boys received more opportunities than girls, and boys’ opportunities grew faster than those of girls.

•    By 2009-10 boys still received disproportionately more athletic opportunities than girls in all community settings—urban, suburban, towns, and rural communities.

•    In 2000, 8.2 percent of schools offered no sports programs, the percentage nearly doubled by 2010, rising to approximately 15 percent.  Additionally, schools with disproportionately higher female enrollments (i.e., the student body is 56 percent female or higher) were more likely to have dropped interscholastic sports between 2000 and 2010.

•    Seven percent of public schools lost sports programs between 2000 and 2010, while less than one percent added sports to their curriculum. Given this trend in the data, it is estimated that by the year 2020, 27 percent of U.S. public high schools (4,398 schools) would be without any interscholastic sports, translating to an estimated 3.4 million young Americans (1,658,046 girls and 1,798,782 boys) who would not have any school-based sports activities to participate in by 2020 if the trend continues.

Read The Decade of Decline report in full and learn more about our SHARP Center for Women and Girls here.

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since July 20th. Thanks, Doug Robinson, Deseret News:  Women win big in Games — at what cost?

At the risk of raining on the you-go-girl parade, there is downside to the story, and you wonder why it has gone unnoticed and unnoted: The rise of the women has come at the expense of the men.

Universities, the lifeblood of Olympic sports in America, have been slashing men’s sports to comply with the federal government’s misguided demand for 1 to 1 proportionality — if 51 percent of a school’s enrollment are women, then 51 percent of the athletic scholarships must go to women, despite the original intent of the law that stated Title IX would be used to reflect interest and not as a quota system. Universities cut men’s sports to even up the numbers because A.) football has 100 or so players on the roster and there isn’t a women’s football team, and B.) there isn’t as much interest in athletics among females.

It is always impressive to find a writer with such a stunted vision of facts. Where to start, where to start? How about here.

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RebKell: Turkey v. USA

Olympics Women’s Basketball Preliminary Round Group A
The Basketball Arena – London, England – 10:15 PM Local Time – 5:15 PM ET
TV: NBC Sports Network / NBC Specialty: Basketball

Online video for cable subscribers:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/video-watch.html?video=womens-group-a-turkey-vs-united-states

Alternate online video:
http://www.thefirstrow.eu/watch/133233/1/watch-olympic:-united-states-vs-turkey,-womens.html

Preview/Boxscore:
http://london2012.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/12/olym/p/eid/6232/gid/26/grid/A/rid/9087/sid/6233/game.html

http://www.nbcolympics.com/basketball/event/women/match=bkw400a09/index.html

Live stats:
http://london2012.fiba.com/extSTATIC/fiba-live/?event=6233(scroll down to game #26)

 Here’s the preview from USA Basketball: Preview – USA Women Take On Turkey

The U.S. women’s Olympic team has an edge over its male counterparts when it comes to international basketball: The style of play is second nature to them.That means the women don’t have to make major adjustments.

“The European game is different, we all know that,” said U.S. guard Diana Taurasi, who has played in both Turkey and Russia. “The best thing about it is that we’ve all played probably more European basketball than WNBA basketball. So we’re all really familiar with it, the way it’s reffed, the way they call things, the way you have to adjust during the game.

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about the missing jerseys, twitter is, you know, very public. Some suggestions:

Jim Tooley,Executive Director/CEO @jtooleyusa

@jtooleyusa Hey Jim, enjoy your updates. Wonder if you could update me on how I could get a USABB Catchings jersey. Want to represent the best of the US

USABasketball: @usabasketball

@usabasketball Hey USA Bball – appreciate you supporting the men’s and women’s teams so equitably. Small fail, though – looks like the women’s jerseys haven’t arrived yet. Anywhere.

In case you’re inspired to do something about the missing coverage, twitter is, you know, very public. Since I can’t pick on EVERY news outlet, I’ll pick on my local NYTimes folks:

@LondonLive: Continuous coverage of the #London2012 Olympics by New York Times reporters and editors.

@LondonLive: Hey, LondonLive Was wondering if you knew the US had a women’s national team in basketball. They’re pretty good, what with them going for their 5th gold. What do they need to do to get coverage?

@nytbishop: New York Times general assignment sports reporter.

@nytbishop: Hey Greg. Impressed with the number of words you’re writing about the men’s national team. Is there a rule new at the Times that you can’t write about the women? Just wondering.

Rob Mahoney @RobMahoney: I write basketball things at basketball places. The New York Times. ESPN TrueHoop Network. NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk.

@RobMahoney: Hey Rob. I see you write “basketball things at basketball places.” Did you know that there are some basketball things happening that include women? Might want to check them out. They’re called the US National Team

@PeteThamelNYT: Pete Thamel is the national college sports reporter for The New York Times

@PeteThamelNYT: Hey Pete. Hope you’re enjoying your summer. Any chance you could find the time to cover the USA Women’s Basketball team. They all went to — and graduated from — college. AND they’re going for their 5th straight gold!

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looking at the other scores, no team was particularly awe-inspiring yesterday.

Let’s just say “Oi, Canada!” (Or, perhaps we should be listening to Becky saying “Nyet to this losing stuff.”

China surprised the Czechs (and many others). Adds Clay: China, France surprise on an interesting first day in London

If day one is any indication, women’s basketball in the 2012 Olympics will be a great show.

About the only game that went as expected was Australia vs. overmatched Great Britain, but otherwise, from Croatia hanging with the U.S. for 30 minutes to Canada exposing Russia to China and France pulling upsets, it was a day for the unexpected – and a great appetizer for what looks like it will be a very entertaining two weeks of basketball.

On the US side, feel free to let the final score fool ya — especially if you took my advice and threw away the first three quarters. Perhaps neither the coaches OR the players should have attended the Opening Ceremonies? <g> Actually, it’s always rather graceless not to give the other team credit for your peckish performance. Says Lee: Croatia makes Team USA work in Olympic opener

From the USA Basketball quote page (no, I wouldn’t mind if this was a running theme):

Do you feel like USA Women’s Basketball is underappreciated for all these streaks and all these records?   Why do you think this team isn’t more popular?  Women’s soccer seems to get more attention.

Auriemma: I have my theories.  I think when you live in the United States and you’re a great women’s basketball player or you’re a great women’s basketball team, you happen to live in a country where the best basketball players in the world live on the men’s team and the best basketball team in the world lives.  You’re always going to be compared to that team or those players and you’re always going to come up short.  That’s just the nature of the game.  Women’s basketball is the most popular team sport in America.  And you’re right, the soccer gets a lot of attention:  once every four years.   During the regular season, during all the other times, women’s basketball gets just about all the attention from any women’s team sport in America.   But when it comes time for the Olympics, it’s like ‘yeah, they’re gonna win.’   That’s unfortunate.  It’s unfair to these players and those that came before them.   I don’t know that there is anything we can do that except just play but it is like UConn.   The only story that’s going to come out of these Olympics is if we lose and then that’ll be a big story.  Then, the U.S. women will be very, very popular all over the world.

Was amused by this turn of phrase in a Yahoo! story:

The decorated ensemble constituting the 2012 USA women’s basketball team have their sights set on extending that streak of Olympic glory to five in London, impressively unencumbered by the suffocating pressure (WHB: or actual media coverage) typically attached to such an ambitious endeavor.

SPOILER ALERT: BTW – congrats to Kimberly Rhode who, in a dazzling performance, became  the first U.S athlete in an individual sport to win five medals in five consecutive Olympics.

You know what would be a cool sidebar to the story? Teresa Edwards, who is currently serving as Chef de Mission. The four-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Edwards first put on a USA Basketball uniform at the age of 17 at the 1981 U.S. Olympic Festival and was a fixture on USA Basketball teams for nearly two decades. She won: gold in 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000, and bronze in 1992.

From the News-Tribune’s TJ Cotterill: Nothing big about Bird except game

At London’s Olympic Park, Sue Bird doesn’t look much like a world-class athlete.

Bird – standing at a generous 5-foot-9, 150 pounds – could easily be taken for a spectator as she strolls past Olympic gargantuans such as New Zealand shot put athlete Valerie Adams; 350-pound Holley Mangold, the U.S weightlifter; or even U.S. tennis player Serena Williams and her powerful thighs.

“Some of these Olympians are just specimens and you just feel disgusting compared to them,” Bird said. “I was walking around and thinking ‘Dang, I need to put a sweatshirt on.’ ”

Michelle (no, not Mechelle) at the KC Star asks: If you don’t know Team USA women by now, will you ever? (And then promptly misspells Catch’s first name. Ooops.)

“We were joking about it, how all the other athletes were flocking to those guys,” Catchings said. “Everywhere they went, a trail of people followed. It doesn’t make us mad. We accept it. It was just kind of funny. To be honest, I’m not sure I want to be that famous. I like to be able to live a somewhat normal life, go to the movies, to eat, and be recognized here and there.”

But, a little more recognition for the U.S. women’s basketball dominance sure would be nice, she conceded.

“In due time, credit will be given,” Catchings said.

In a similar vein, from Mike Bresnahan at? for? the Baltimore Sun: McCoughtry leads fourth-quarter surge for U.S.
A handful of journalists were on hand to watch the U.S. women’s basketball team win its Olympic opener against Croatia. (I was willing to be the sixth finger, but the USOC said no thanks, we have too many folks covering women’s basketball.) It was an obvious contrast to the crammed news conference the previous day for the U.S. men’s team, where reporters scurried toward Kobe Bryant and LeBron James before packing into a dense semi-circle seven or eight people deep.
“This is more physical than our games,” Bryant quipped as media members pushed and shoved one another. “I’ve seen at least two flagrant fouls.” 

Not only is the women’s team up against Croatia, the Czech Republic, etc. There’s overwhelming competition from that other U.S. team.

Maybe its me, but as I’ve been watching all of the preview shows leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, I haven’t noticed much attention given to the USA women’s basketball team.

It’s been gymnastics this, swimming that. Track and field this, men’s basketball that.

Where is Geno? Where are Maya Moore or Tamika Catchings? Where is the news about a four-time defending gold medalist?

The Courant is time sharing Mike Bresnhan with the LA Times: Geno Auriemma Glad His U.S. Women’s Team Considered The Favorites

It might be the best-kept secret in England.

The U.S. women’s basketball team has won 33 consecutive games in the Olympics, not to mention the last four gold medals, and nobody will talk about it.

Back to the US team: Ex-Tennessee Lady Vols team up with former rival Geno Auriemma to chase gold – Ex-Lady Vols join Auriemma to chase gold (I dunno – seems to me once a Vol, always a Vol. There ain’t no “ex” about it)

They’re playing for Geno Auriemma.

That might have been unthinkable for Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker before Auriemma became Team USA coach in 2009, but they’re used to it — even having some fun with it, now that the former Tennessee greats and the fiery Connecticut coach are poised to win gold together.

Are Summitt and Auriemma different? Very, Parker said.

“You’ve just got to go through it,” Catchings said of Auriemma’s outspoken style. “Trust me on that.”

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a “primer” on the team from the .com: The Gold Standard

Four straight Olympic gold medals.

A 33-game winning streak in Olympic competition dating back to 1992.

A 72-1 record in major international competitions over the past 16 years.

For the U.S. Women’s National Team, winning gold medals is not a goal to strive for, it is a standard that must be maintained. As the 2012 Olympic team came together this weekend in Washington, D.C. for a three-day training camp to continue its preparation for the Olympics in London, they understood what is at stake.

“Every time you put on that USA jersey there’s a certain expectation there,” said veteran guard Sue Bird. “Not just in the Olympics, but every time we take the court, no matter where we are. And the expectation is to win and most times to win big. There’s definitely some pressure there, but no more than we put on ourselves. We want to win that gold medal just as much as anybody.”

From Jared Zwerling (where’s Mechelle?): Diana Taurasi leads Team USA

“The veteran used to be 36-year-olds; now it’s 30? [laughs],” Taurasi said. “I like to think of myself as a young veteran.”

Eight years ago in Athens for the 2004 Olympics, Taurasi was only 22 and a rookie on the gold-medal team. Then in 2008 in Beijing, she proved herself more in extended minutes, winning another gold. Now, she’s the eyes and ears of the group.

“With D, everywhere she goes, everyone respects her game so much,” Auriemma said. “She’s an unbelievable teammate, she has the ability to get people to follow her, so she’s a rare combination of someone that can do everything on the court, and yet at the same time, makes you a better player as well. If Diana asks a question, everyone’s listening to what the answer is. If they have a question, they ask her. They know they’re going to get led in the right way.

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Honestly, wowza.

There was a moment, as regulation time ended in the Notre Dame-UConn game, when the fans in the Pepsi Arena rose to their feet in appreciation of what they were seeing on the court. It was body against body, will against will, emotion against emotion. Everything we hope for when the best of the best go at each other. In the end, it came down to a block, a kick out and a three and Notre Dame earned a place in the finals.

Stanford and Baylor would have been hard pressed to match the drama of the first game, but it was weird to feel so little intensity from both teams. That being said, Stanford had a game plan that almost worked, making a Griner sandwich and daring the Baylor guards to score. Good results in the first half, not so much in the second as the unheralded #10 *all looking at their programs* Condrey drove Baylor to the title match.

Kim, over at Women’s Basketball Online has captured a lot of the coverage on her Daily News page.

Baylor: Baylor’s Griner changed game, maybe the sport
Baylor: Stanford slows Griner and Sims, but role player puts Baylor women on brink of history
Baylor: Lady Bears prove they’re not just ‘Brittney Griner Show’
Baylor: Griner, Baylor a win away from perfect
Baylor: Supporting cast lifts Brittney Griner, Baylor to title game
Baylor: Baylor rights itself in second half vs. Stanford
Baylor: Baylor knocks out Stanford to advance to NCAA final
Baylor: Baylor’s Brittney Griner a slam dunk as one of college game’s elite
Baylor,Notre Dame: VanDerveer: Don’t crown Baylor yet
Baylor,Notre Dame: Notre Dame-Baylor preview
Baylor,Notre Dame: NCAA women’s title game will be a rematch for Baylor, Notre Dame
UConn
: Irish Get The Last Word, Defeat UConn, 85-73
UConn: UConn Looks Beyond Loss To The Future
UConn: Huskies fall to Notre Dame in national semifinals
UConn,Notre Dame: Another Battle Fuels The Flames Of A Fierce Rivalry
Notre Dame: Diggins 1-on-1: “This is the reason why I came to Notre Dame”
Notre Dame: ND overcomes UConn to earn a chance at title game redemption
Notre Dame: Notre Dame Wins a Taut Game and Returns to the Final
Notre Dame: Notre Dame beats UConn in OT, again reaches title game
Notre Dame: McGraw, team bond is special
Notre Dame: Irish too stubborn to lose
Notre Dame: Irish show faith in Mom
Notre Dame: Some Mile High magic

Swish Appeals’ been busy as has HoopFeed with interviews and transcripts.

Lots of stuff over at ESPN as the site has really stepped up the coverage — that is, it’s not just Graham and Mechelle and Charlie doing everything.

I will say this about the Final Four: it’s not just about the games. In fact, in many ways, it has little to do with the four teams who are here. Yes, they are the “magnet,” but the Final Four is about celebrating women’s basketball as a whole. Denver is where you’re going to find incredibly knowledgeable fans of the game who can quote you chapter and verse about tournaments gone sitting side by side with newbies who will ask, “What does a one-and-one mean?” You’ll sit to the right of someone who played high school ball in the 1970s and in front of someone who played college ball at Dayton in the 1960s, both who all but demand that their husbands and wives and children come out to support the game.

You might strike up a conversation with an official and discover they’re a single parent who took a risk to join the profession. You might chat with the “known” coaches like Nell and Joanne and CViv and Pat, or you might encounter a coach at a small DII college who says coaching women’s basketball saved his life. You could share an elevator with announcer Brenda Van Lengen, watch an exhausted Rebecca Lobo willing herself upright in the lobby, or see Doris Burke go haring after someone in pursuit of game tape and a review of a particular call.

It’s all that.

And then, sometimes, it’s even more.

At half time of the Baylor-Stanford games, the USA Olympic coaches from 1976 to the present were honored. What a privilege it was to see women’s basketball history walk out onto the court, to see what unites those men and women into a unique, elite “members only club,” and to be able to hoot and holler to say “thank you” to each one of them. Especially to coach Summitt. Write Mechelle:

The last coach announced, of course, was the 1984 gold-medal winner Summitt, who brought the arena to a lengthy standing ovation. Summitt’s battle with early-onset dementia has been the most poignant storyline of this entire women’s basketball season.

“I’m just so glad that the women got involved in the Olympics,” Summitt said in a statement provided by USA Basketball. “It meant the world to me to know there was a place to play after we played basketball in college. We could travel. We could compete. I just made some of the best friends — ever.

“I really appreciated walking in here and seeing this. It was touching for all of us. No doubt about it.”

So, folks, submit your vacation days early, ’cause next year it’s New Orleans. Be there.

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(Wouldn’t it be cool if you could sign up for email alerts?)

Beth and Debbie talk with Doug, Jen, Marynell, and Geno about the Olympics. Tamika Catchings gets to chat, too!

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writes: Diana Taurasi Handled Doping Allegation With Class, Integrity: Back on top.

I also hope that the media coverage of Taurasi’s innocence will, at the very least, match the initial reports of her demise. In the world of professional women’s basketball, it seems like the only time we’ll see a national headline is due to a scandal or some type of negative publicity. Hence, I hope all the sites who made fun of Taurasi and pronounced her guilty will also have an updated report regarding her name being cleared. It takes a special person to get through a situation like this, and Diana Taurasi certainly is one.

Dishin a Swish Appeal adds: Why Diana Taurasi’s Clearance Was So Important to Connecticut

Let’s face facts, there’s not a whole lot to be excited about living in Connecticut right now.

We have snow that seems like it’s going to take until August to melt.  Our economy sucks, and our new Governor just gave a speech yesterday saying he wanted to further raise the highest gasoline tax in the country.  We had a professional hockey team, it moved to Carolina.  UConn’s football team makes a major bowl game, and we’re not only considered a laughing stock for being included, our coach then bolts for that hotbed of college football, Maryland. Sure, we have Kemba Walker, but the men’s basketball team at UConn isn’t really given much of a shot to win the national title.

Which leaves us with the UConn women’s basketball team.  And THAT is why it was so important for people in Connecticut that Diana Taurasi had her suspension lifted yesterday, even if her actual clearance is about as clear as mud, it is something we needed here badly.

Q chimes in with Appreciating Diana Taurasi After Being Cleared By The Turkish Basketball Federation

I know that Taurasi’s playful bravado on the court or smiling into the camera annoys a lot of WNBA fans – for those that expect a female athlete to be sugar, spice, and everything nice, Taurasi might seem like a big bad wolf that blows your house down and then asks if you were cold last night just for kicks.

But I saw that play differently.

Although Taurasi’s statement that she is indeed guilty of taking too many shots seems to stand in stark contrast to Romar’s laudatory words about a competitor passing up a shot he might have deserved, what I see in Taurasi is someone lost in the game and taking great joy in every moment of it. That’s what I see in the trash talk, “dirty plays”, and the willingness to come to the defense of her teammates when necessary – someone truly lost in the game and seeking every path possible to victory. It’s not really about humiliating her opponents, it’s about the playful banter inherent in a back and forth game like basketball that is quite honestly a large part of what draws me in – it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

I watch my fair share of basketball at all levels – college and pro, men’s and women’s, and even the occasional elementary school rec league game – and the reason for my faith in Taurasi is that she is, “as competitive and dedicated to her sport as anyone, anywhere” as Seth Pollack wrote over at SBN Arizona when news of Taurasi’s positive drug test first broke back in December. You don’t have to be a women’s basketball fan to appreciate what Taurasi does – it’s a matter of appreciating what it means to be considered as possibly the most competitive athlete in no matter what sport you play.

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Taurasi Cleared of Doping Charges

“Life can throw you curveballs at any given time,” said Taurasi, who will also be able to compete in the 2012 Olympics. “I can be mad and angry, but I will move forward. Not everyone has the same financial resources I did. Hopefully this will let people know every process has holes and to wait for the facts to come out before making decisions.”

With the lifting of the suspension, Taurasi is also free to continue playing in the Turkish basketball league, although she doesn’t plan on going back there anytime soon.

“That’s pretty unlikely,” the 28-year-old WNBA star said. “I’m here in Phoenix working out and am more focused on getting myself in the best shape of my life and going from there.”

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From Mechelle: For now, Taurasi must endure wait – Will suspension come down, and if so, will it take WNBA star out of 2012 Games?

From the time an athlete is informed of a positive “B” sample, the process all the way through a CAS decision — if it goes that far — could take about eight months. That’s according to a standard USADA estimate, although there is no hard and fast timeline.

During such a process, there will be speculation and attempts to figure out what happened and why. Ultimately, explanations or proposed justifications won’t matter if an athlete is given a suspension.

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and Q: The Pac-10 Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of Women’s Sports: Meyers-Drysdale Says ‘There’s Still Things To Be Done’

When USA Swimming announced Cal’s Teri McKeever as coach of the USA Swimming women’s team at the 2012 London Games, she became the first woman selected to coach an American Olympic swim team.

Although the former USC All-American is no stranger to firsts in the swimming world, as described on Cal’s website, her quote in the Sports Illustrated article about the selection seems appropriate.

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Jayda. But before she scoots, from her blog:

“It was a little bit of a Year of Redemption for me personally,” said Bird via phone from Czech Republic after Team USA defeated the host country 89-69 for gold and the automatic berth to the 2012 Olympics. “Winning a championship always feels good. You don’t have to look back and regret anything. You’re proud of what you’ve done and to tie it with the WNBA title feels great. We pretty much dominated and we didn’t do that in 2006, so I’m glad we were able to accomplish that.”

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