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Silly me. I think it’s safe to unplug, catch up with family, friends and that thing we call work ’cause its “Down time in women’s basketball!”

But, nooooooooooo……

So, in order of loudness: Parker and the Olympics

Obviously, there’s a there’s a ton of stuff that we don’t know… and will never now. What makes the story even more fraught is that, like an onion, there are layers and layers of people around the story.

Seems to me there are a couple of narratives swirling around:

  1. The Selection Committee of USA Basketball (Carol Callan (USA Basketball), Reneé Brown (WNBA), Dan Hughes (WNBA), Chris Sienko (WNBA), Katie Smith (Athlete Representative)) made a decision on who should or shouldn’t be on the team based on several factors. In one of the most challenging decision years ever, they made a choice that several people have opinions on. For instance: 

Doug: Candace Parker disappointed, will not be on US hoops roster
Mechelle: Omitting Parker is a bad call by USA Basketball and USA Basketball’s failure to offer answers fuels speculation around Candace Parker’s exclusion
Sporting News: Candace Parker’s Olympic snub ushers in new era of women’s hoops

2. USA head coach Geno Auriemma has a grudge against Tennessee and Pat Summitt, so  he demanded that Parker not be on the team.

For instance: All for Tennessee: Was Candace Parker Railroaded from Team USA by Geno Auriemma?

This narrative makes the most sense to me. Yes, USA Basketball has stated ad nauseam that “the Committee makes the decisions,” but they’re lying. Contrary to what Tara wrote, it’s the USA basketball head coach who decides who wears the red, white and blue – which is why Parker is not on the team.

Sure, it’s been since January 7, 2007 that the Huskies faced the Vols, but Candace Parker was on. that. team. And they beat UConn, 70-62. And Parker scored 30. AND she dunked. And you know what is it they say: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Auriemma couldn’t keep Parker off the 2008 team (he wasn’t the coach), and couldn’t keep her off the London team (probably didn’t have the power yet). Worse, when in London, he couldn’t stop her from taking over during the gold medal game against France. That must have been what set him off on his plotting. Now, four years later, he’s gotten exactly what he knows will make his career worthwhile: no Parker on the Olympic team.

Sure, he’s just coming off winning his 11th National Championship.
Sure, he’s just won four Final Fours in a row.
Sure, he just had his seniors be pick 1-2-3 in the WNBA Draft.
Sure, he’s so fried he ended up in the hospital.
Sure, he knew there would be a fan and player and coach and media firestorm that would pull the attention from the team he was going to coach in Rio….

But it’s all worth it. That kid who graduated from Tennessee in 2008 is not going to Rio. NOW his coaching resume is complete.

Just in case: sarchasm. the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’ t get it. 

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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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Inside the Rings: A Giant Leap for Women, but Hurdles Remain

During Friday’s opening ceremony, Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, drew loud and sustained applause when he said: “For the first time in Olympic history, all the participating teams will have female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality.”

It is true that women have come light-years from the first modern Games, held in Athens in 1896, when their presence was welcomed only as spectators. Women, too, have made significant gains even since the Atlanta Games in 1996, when 26 nations did not send female athletes.

Yet the fight for true equality is far from being won.

Something Jere’ doesn’t mention is coverage. Apparently David Stern asked the Times folks if they were going to cover the women.

I don’t believe he got an answer.

So, I don’t mind repeating myself: 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. Maybe the hashtag could be NYTimesOlympicFail?

@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

About the basketball (which is on-going and very interesting!) The US plays Angola today. Viewing info from RebKell:

5:15 PM ET
TV: NBC Specialty Channel – Basketball

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

Alternate online video:
http://www.thefirstrow.eu/watch/132945/1/watch-olympic:-angola-vs-united-states,-womens.html

Preview/Boxscore:
http://london2012.fiba.com/pages/eng/fe/12/olym/p/eid/6232/gid/15/grid/A/rid/9087/sid/6233/game.html

Live stats:
http://london2012.fiba.com/extSTATIC/fiba-live/?event=6233 (scroll down to game #15)

 

Learn a little about the Angolan team at Full Court. In case you missed Lee’s July 19th preview: London 2012: Angola — Just happy to be there

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Doug says: Cash, US women’s basketball team ready to face Angola in their 2nd game of the Olympics

“I was at a point in 2008 where I didn’t want to leave this game with people defining who I was as a player,” Cash said. “Going out with an injury is not what I wanted my legacy to be.”

A conversation with five-time Olympian and basketball great Teresa Edwards helped her refocus with one goal in mind — making it to London. Cash dedicated herself to getting healthy and now that the 32-year-old is back in the Olympics, she is ready to play whoever is next on the U.S. schedule.

From USA Basketball: U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Practice Quotes

Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
Practice looked intense today, did you feel it was a good one?

It was a great practice. We came in. We worked hard. We practiced as if we didn’t play yesterday and don’t play tomorrow. I think it’s why we’re going to be able to play the way we want to tomorrow. We just came in, worked on some things offensively, added a few things and tightened up a few things on defense.

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from Full Court: Diana Taurasi plays “Know Your London Lingo”

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here ’tis!

Hmmm… step father’s 80th BDay at 6:30, Gold medal at 4pm. The wireless better be workin’ or I’m going to be one cranky party goer. (Spitting and tossing salt over my shoulder to appease the basketball mojo gods….)

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From Full Court: London 2012: The United States — Only gold will satisfy

From Hoop Feed: Russian national team member Becky Hammon checks in from London, talks about Olympic prep, the toughest foes and more

From one of the palest women in the world, Val Ackerman: U.S. women living the dream

This summer, much is being written about the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, which represented the United States in men’s basketball at the Barcelona Olympics. The descriptions about the team and its place in history have personal significance for me, because I served behind the scenes as one of the NBA’s staff liaisons to USA Basketball at that time.

It was a career highlight to be associated with this incredible collection of superstars, witnessing firsthand the way they mesmerized fans in San Diego, Portland, Ore., Monte Carlo and finally Barcelona. Traveling with the team that summer was truly like being on tour with a rock band, maybe even crazier. The Dream Team was — and remains — the gold standard of men’s sports teams, and it deserves credit for the way it captivated fans the world over and for transforming the game of basketball into a global phenomenon.

Another highly gifted U.S. team is gearing up for these Olympics, although much less is being written about its prospects and storied past. The USA Basketball women’s national team is in London with its sights set on a fifth consecutive gold medal in Olympic competition, a feat that has never been accomplished by any U.S. women’s traditional team sports program.

Somebody not called Mechelle writes: Why the U.S. women are beatable

The biggest challenge for the U.S. will be a potential lack of chemistry. While much of the world has spent months prepping for London, Auriemma’s squad will have had just 10 practices when they take the floor on Saturday. And three of those were back in May.

Though it wasn’t the most enjoyable of topics, Sue Bird admitted Thursday that, yes, the ingredients for a potential U.S. loss are more than there. This team isn’t unbeatable. The ingredients come in the form of complacency, human nature after prolonged success. Then you factor in the lack of experience playing together. And the fact that it’s a one-and-done tournament. Lose and you go home. Put it all together and the unthinkable could happen. Maybe.

Doug has: Taurasi, Bird and rest of US women’s basketball team ready to start Olympic play vs Croatia

“We have one goal in mind and that’s to win,” said point guard Sue Bird, who will be playing in her third Olympics. “For us, I think with our limited training time even as we start the games, the learning part is not over. We have to take each game and improve. I know people will say we’re playing Croatia — ‘they beat them by 54’ — it’s another opportunity to play together and get better.

From CNN: Anthony, Paul and Moore get interviewed by Soledad (whose feet are more dressed up than the rest of her)

From the Bleacher Report: USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team 2012: Stars Who Will Dominate (Maya workin’ the bear hat!)

From Ben York: Opinion: The USA Women’s Basketball Team’s Quest for a Fifth Consecutive Gold Should Be a Bigger Deal (no shit)

We—women’s basketball fans and supporters—don’t ask for much. People say we do, but we really don’t. One request, outlandish and eccentric as it may be, is to know (and be able to point out) who the players are if you’re calling the game. I know, we’re crazy like that. But, hey, it’s women’s basketball. Who cares, right? They’re lucky to even be on television! It’s not that big of a deal!

Adding to the nonsense, in nearly every timeout, the commentators would compare Team USA players to their male counterparts while crediting each storyline back to the players’ fathers (or another male figure) for advancing to the position they’re at today. As if, by doing so, somehow that makes their story greater. When in doubt, talk about men. Surely, they spent an equal amount of time during the men’s exhibition game(s) discussing the depths and dominance of the women’s team over the past two decades, right?

(Oh – prank time: Next time Tina sees Mark Jones, she should walk over and say to him, “Hi, Walt, I’m Sylvia.”)

From the Huffington Post: Can Women’s Team Win Another Gold?

No surprise, the official UConn basketball site has some coverage — but they also have feet on the ground in London: Team USA Will Open Olympic Play Saturday vs. Croatia

Earlier today, the team once again was treated to American Royalty.  During what was supposed to be a players-only event, the coaches and staff were asked at the last minute to participate in a special USA ceremony featuring past Olympians and guest of honor, First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Mrs. Obama gave an inspirational pep talk that also promoted her campaign for healthy living.

“I’m so inspired by you and am in awe of what you all have achieved,” she said. “Try to have fun; try to breathe a little.”

“I’m glad we were invited to see the First Lady speak,” said head coach Geno Auriemma.  “It was great to get a chance to listen to her talk about some of the commitments and sacrifices these kids have made to get here and how other people are going to look up to them and emulate them in many ways.  It was a reminder that the Olympics are a special event.  It’s not just another tournament.”

Speaking of the First Lady: London welcomes First Lady of fashion Michelle Obama as she dons ANOTHER patriotic outfit in support of Team USA

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we need to bother these folks.”

Ethel: Because it’s polite, Fred, to welcome new tenants. It will be painless — we’ll say hello, drop off the tuna casserole and…

Fred: Get back to prepping for the game on Saturday. Okay, but let’s make it quick. I’ve got to keep up with the Dougster…

Ethel: I know, he is so very industrious. Too bad that nice Mechelle isn’t around to keep him company. (rings doorbell)

Man and woman: (simultaneously shouting): Door!

Man: You get it.

Woman: You’re closer.

Man: Florence, get the damn door.

Florence: Mr. Jefferson, you told me to stay in the kitchen! And that’s where I’m going!

Mr. Jefferson: (Footsteps,  muttering) What’s the point of a maid if they don’t get the door. (Opens door) What!

Ethel: (a little taken aback): Oh. Well, hello! I’m Ethel, and this is my husband…

Fred: (mutters) Fred.

Ethel: And we wanted to welcome you to the building.

Mr. Jefferson: Uh, huh. Weezy! Company!

Louise (enters): Oh, hello there!

Ethel: Well, hello! I’m Ethel, and this is my husband…

Fred: (mutters) Fred.

Ethel: And we wanted to welcome you to the building. We brought this for you. (hands Louise the casserole)

Louise: Why thank you! That’s very kind of you.

George: Okay, enough chit, chat. I’ve got work to do. Here’s the tour: This here is the living area, where we does our living, and this is the dining area, where we does our dining, and this is the kitchen area…

Louise: Where we does our kitchening.

George: (gives her a look) And this is the tv room where we do our tv-ing.

Fred: Nice television.

George: Well, of course. Since I moved up, I decided to move up, if you know what I mean: HD. Can’t watch US v Croatia on a regular feed.

Ethel: You follow women’s basketball?

Louise: Of course we do. I played a little in my day. The game is so different. And they’re so good!

George: Yah, we were season subscribers to the Liberty, but then they moved out to Jersey. Jersey?! Who the hell goes out to Jersey to watch basketball?

Ethel & Fred: No one.

Fred: We’ve been there.

George: Don’t tell me you two honkies follow women’s basketball?

Ethel: Of course. (whispers to Louise) I beat Fred at H-O-R-S-E regularly. Maybe we can shoot a few?

Fred: (admiring the big screen tv) Sure do! Not sure if Croatia is the “Upset Special” Lee says they are, but can’t wait to see them in action.

George: Huh. Fans. Who’da guessed.

Louise: I tell you what — why don’t be both of you join us for the game. I’ll cook up something special.

Ethel: That would be lovely! I can’t wait to see if Geno keeps them switching or not…

George: (escorting them to the door) And if those posts don’t start poster-izing, I’m going to send them to the cleaners, if you know what I mean. Now scoot, I’ve got some prepping to do. And keep it quiet – or Bentley will pop out and start singing “Rule, Britannia!”

Louise: He’s so proud England’s hosting the games. Now, if only Jo can help the Brits win a game or three….

George: Then he’ll be more insufferable than usual!

Fred: See you Saturday at 11:30am for the :45 tip off!

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take heart: you can look for me during the ESPN broadcast.

Sweet!

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Asjha Jones

“It’s an honor,” said Jones. “My mom, everyone in my family is so excited for me. I think it’s exciting how people respond to you when you tell them. A lot of people want to cry. Just to see the way people react to the news is really special. I’m really exited. I’m so excited to be a part of this.

Add on: From Mechelle: Why did Jones addition happen now?

Now, before anyone starts grumbling about this being a case of the college-connection version of nepotism, remember that Auriemma doesn’t pick the team. He has input, but a committee makes the decisions about who fills the Team USA roster. National team director Carol Callan heads up the committee; the other members are five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, San Antonio Silver Stars coach/GM Dan Hughes, Indiana Fever GM/CEO Kelly Krauskopf and WNBA executive Renee Brown.

Additional add on/flashback from AP Doug: US women’s Olympic team soon to be unveiled

One of the hardest tasks for any coach is cutting players.

It’s even more difficult when many of the players involved have helped you reach the pinnacle of your profession.

Fortunately for U.S. women’s national basketball coach Geno Auriemma, those decisions are made by a five-member selection committee. Sure the UConn coach gives a lot of input on whom he would like on the Olympic team, but the committee has the final say.

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USA Basketball Women’s National Team To Test Itself Against China During May 11-13 Training Camp In Seattle

Highlighted by a May 12 exhibition game against the China National Team, the 2012 USA Basketball Women’s National Team has added a May 11-13 training camp in Seattle, Wash., to its schedule. The USA versus China exhibition contest will be held at KeyArena on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. (all times listed are local). Tickets for the USA vs. China game will be available for sale on April 17 online at www.stormbasketball.com or ticketmaster.com, any Ticketmaster outlet, or by calling 206-217-9622 or 1-877- 9622-849. Group tickets are available by calling 206-217-9622.

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Mechelle somehow finds the brain space to write about the US National Team: Wealth of luxuries for Team USA

With that much firepower spread out to cover every spot on the floor, the Americans could just spot the rest of the world a player. Of course, they’re not going to do that. So the last position, which will be filled this summer, could be used as much for the purpose of preparing for the next Olympics as it is for competing in these upcoming Games.

“Our job at USA Basketball is not only to win a gold medal this year, but also to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do in 2016, 2020,” Auriemma said. “So we’re not just picking the best team for this year, which obviously is the No. 1 goal, but we also want to be conscious of, ‘What do we need to do to keep this thing not only where it is, but to get it even better?'”

She also wonders: So, what about Cappie Pondexter?

Why wasn’t Pondexter, who is definitely one of the top scoring guards in the world, one of the 11 named? Callan and U.S. coach Geno Auriemma, who isn’t on the selection committee, said it was just a part of the tough process of putting together the team.

Yet there is also the fact that Pondexter didn’t play in the 2010 World Championships; she told USA Basketball back then that she was too tired from her just-completed WNBA season to compete. However, Pondexter did attend Fashion Week in New York City during the time the U.S. team was practicing for those worlds, which did raise some eyebrows.

Callan on Friday tried to defuse speculation that Pondexter’s choice back then was in any way related to USA Basketball’s decision for 2012. But, if nothing else, it did help make way for a player such as Lindsay Whalen to get a spot on the 2010 world championship team, and now she is one of the Olympians.

 

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are announced.

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talks to Geno post-European tour.

Hoopfeed: What are your impressions after coaching for the first time Brittney Griner and Sophia Young?

GA: Obviously coming in you don’t know how they are going to be, but I’m finding both of them great to be around, first of all, as people I’ve really enjoyed them. I think the other things, Sophia has tried really, really hard to get to this point, and get an opportunity to play [with USA Basketball]. I like the fact that she knows exactly where her shots are going to come from and she tries really hard to get those shots. Brittney, is a unique individual. You just don’t see anybody like that. You know you’ve got something that no one in the world has, at both ends of the floor. She just has to be in this situation more often. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, being around both of them, both as people and as players.

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and the US got the win: USA Basketball Women’s National Team Closes Out European Tour On High Note, Eclipses UE Sopron 73-63

“It was the complete opposite of the way we started (the second half) the other night,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “There was a much better focus on the defensive end to kind of limit what the other team was doing. Because the defensive stops were there, we were then able to convert that into good offense. I think we took them out of their rhythm. They had a really nice flow offensively in the first half. And then, some defensive things that we did really caused them some problems. We had great ball movement in the third quarter and got open shots. It sounds so simple, but that’s basically what it was.”

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and US turnovers helped Czech League champion USK Prague get the win over the US, 83-77.

“They have an excellent team and I think they played very consistently for the entire 40 minutes,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “They didn’t have ups and downs. We played really well at times and not so well at times. We were more up and down and they played steady the whole game. They’re a very, very good team and they played really, really well. It’s difficult for us. We only have seven players and it’s not always easy.”

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From Montgomery’s blog:

I’m blogging right now from an airport in Madrid. The only problem is the flight from Madrid to Valencia that we are supposed to be on has just flown by us. For those that do not understand, we just missed our flight. The good news is, it gave me time to sit and talk to you all. The bad news is this is our day off so we will now end up traveling the whole day. This has been an eventful trip to say the least.

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Griner blogs: 

PRACTICE
Okay, the first day of practice I just wanted to die. I was tired because there are only seven of us and yeah, I was worn out. It was crazy but practice is cool though. I had to learn quick, real quick. Everyone is very helpful. Swin Cash and Tina Charles both help me a lot. Tina calls me `kid’ but she is only two years older than me. She and I chill a lot in my room on our computers. Renee (Montgomery) is real nice and Cappie Pondexter is real cool. In fact, everyone is really nice to me and helps me out.

 

That’s all for now, gotta get some rest. Check back often, I’ll do more of these while I’m here.

 

 

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and tremble.USA Women’s National Team Runs Away With 77-48 Victory Over Famila Schio

Brittney Griner (Baylor University) led all scorers with 15 points; Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) and Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun) added 12 points apiece; Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty) scored 11; while Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars) chipped in eight and seven points, respectively.

BTW: Check out the box for a little WATN? session with Cheryl Ford and Janel McCarville and follow Swin Cash on twitter to learn why she’s “ticked” at BG.

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This time it’s the Pan American games being held in Mexico.

Check out the college/high school roster and the schedule (first US game tips off Oct 21).

Don’t forget the Senior Team is hoopin’ it up in Europe. Check out the photos. (Not sure coach Mulkey’ll be happy with that first one.)

Didja catch Cheryl’s piece over at HoopFeed? Sophia Young and Kim Mulkey excited about the San Antonio star’s USA Basketball training camp invitation

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in Nevada and, says the Review Journal’s Mark Anderson, Baylor’s Griner is aiming to elevate her game to the Olympic level

Griner, 20, was welcomed by the vets. Parker even took her aside and showed her ways to move and establish position.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Griner said. “Everybody out here I’ve looked up to and still look up to. I’m sitting on the bus with them. I’m sitting down eating with them. We’re just having regular conversations and out here playing ball.”

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on those “improvement ideas:” Priorities seem askew at FIBA summit

You have to hand it to FIBA. Last weekend, basketball’s world governing body had its inaugural conference on women’s basketball … 57 years after the first world championship.

Guess you gotta start sometime, huh?

In its press release about the conference, FIBA sounded somewhat like a elderly skeptic who has decided it is OK for his headstrong granddaughter, with all her crazy liberal ideas, to go to grad school. In fact … he’s going to help her!

Right on, Gramps!

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Clay at Slamonline goes punny: An American Czech-mate – The US easily regains the gold.

I’m always interested when writers who actually know something about the game (Clay’s coached) make statements like this:

Credit, though, must also go to Geno Auriemma, who coaxed a tremendous defensive effort out of a group of superstars who usually treat hard work on defense as something slightly more offensive than bad breath.

Three of the players were WNBA All-Defensive First Team. (It would have been four, but Cappie didn’t show.) US opponents shot an average of .385. At the 2008 Olympics it was .339. FIBA Americas in ’07 it was .334)

and

Speaking of UConn players, Maya Moore was not quite the goddess many had expected – and in fact is no longer the automatic, no-brainer first pick in the WNBA Draft next spring….Moore was hardly awful, though, averaging 8.7 ppg and shooting 43.7 percent, but she also didn’t look like an immediate WNBA All-Star.

Made me go check out more US stats. I guess Clay doesn’t think Catchings looks much like a WNBA All-Star neither. Their stats are pretty similar and, until the final game, were all but equivalent.

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NBAtv. Fiba online. Chanelsurfing.net: U.S. to play Czech Republic in final

“The original plan was to be one of the eight best teams,” Czech coach Lubor Blazek said. “Then we wanted to progress into the top four, but then we decided we just had to go to the finals.”

“Tomorrow night is going to be in one of the most difficult changes for this team, playing the Czechs on their home court with all their fans,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s been a Cinderella run for them. The emotions and energy this building is going to have. This will be a great place to be tomorrow.”

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From Mechelle: Even in rout, Team USA is relentless – U.S. women remain the favorites, but that hasn’t given them false confidence

All that today’s American women’s players know of putting on a USA jersey is this: They’re supposed to win. Not that they will win, or that the process will be easy. Just that it’s expected. Heck, it’s practically required.

But there was a time, before these players were born, when the United States wasn’t a favorite in international women’s basketball. In the four world championships from 1964-75, in fact, the Americans didn’t even win a medal. Once, they actually finished last.

In the other games, Spain almost tumbled and Australia and Russia did.

Mechelle calls it “Freaky Friday.” Two powerhouses fall at world

Call it “Freaky Friday” at the FIBA World Championship. Not for the United States, but for the two squads that entered this tournament as the Americans’ top challengers.

The two teams that met in the 2006 world championship final — Russia and Australia — will leave the Czech Republic without a medal after both countries were knocked into the consolation bracket after quarterfinal losses on Friday.

The day started with Belarus, once joined with Russia as part of the Soviet Union, upsetting the Russians, who are ranked second in the world behind Team USA. The 70-53 win was especially notable because of the margin of victory.

Then, after the Americans crushed South Korea 106-44, host nation Czech Republic provided the day’s second stunner, again by double digits, with a 79-68 win against Australia.

Doug writes:

The U.S. women’s basketball team has been running through the world championship, blowing past everyone.

As if the Americans weren’t having an easy enough time, the road to an eighth title got a lot less difficult with losses by defending champion Australia and Russia. Not getting a chance to face the team that knocked them out of contention for a gold medal in the 2006 worlds didn’t seem to bother the Americans.

“There’s no sense of disappointment where revenge goes,” said U.S. forward Tamika Catchings, who was on the team that lost to Russia four years ago. “Our goal is to win the gold medal. We’ll have to face a lot of teams. We got one more tomorrow then we’ll focus on Sunday after that.”

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Yah, it didn’t “mean” anything, but we get this Doug’s game article: Taurasi leads US women to win over Australia

“It’s not in my nature or USA basketball’s nature except to try and win this game and do what we had to do to win this game,” Auriemma said. “There’s no guarantee we’ll play them again. We wanted to play tonight’s game to win.”

Crowd: 6,340. Nice.

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and not looking ahead (though Doug is) to the Aussies: Strong 1st quarter helps US women rout Belarus

If Tuesday night’s win over Belarus is any indication, the U.S. is ready and focused.

Sylvia Fowles scored 15 points and Diana Taurasi added 14 to help the U.S. win 107-61. Candice Dupree had 12 and Swin Cash 11 in another balanced offensive effort by the U.S., which shot 68 percent.

After watching his team get off to slow starts in the last two games, U.S. coach Geno Auriemma changed his starting lineup, inserting Dupree and Tina Charles. The move paid off as the pair combined to score the team’s first 10 points and the U.S. (5-0) took a 23-6 lead in the game’s first 7 minutes.

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It’s a day of “rest,” but Doug’s keeping busy: Inexperienced US team growing up at worlds

Despite a wealth of talent on the U.S. women’s basketball roster, only three players have world championship experience.

Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Tamika Catchings have competed at past worlds. The veterans see it as their responsibility to bring along the young roster.

“I think for the three of us, it’s important that we show the way,” said Bird, who won a gold medal in 2002 and a bronze in 2006 at worlds. “That’s what the older players did for us at our first world championship. You know nine games in 11 days is not easy, and you have to be mentally and physically ready for it.”

The USA Basketball site has quotes from the National Team Practice Day

On the offensive end, I think we’ve been really good on the offensive end. But you saw yesterday in the first quarter how it can fall apart awfully quickly. I asked a couple of the players, ‘what was that?’ They said ‘I don’t know. That’s kind of what happens in our league when guys just don’t feel like moving, just stand around watching each other and wait for each other to make a play.’ So you’re constantly working on making sure we’re playing five-on-five, making sure the ball is moving, making sure that everybody knows what the next thing we’re going to do is.

But I’ve got a great group. They listen. They play hard. They pay attention. They do what I ask them to do and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. I just hope that we improve a little bit every day.

The US, Australia, Spain, and Russia won their Groups. The U.S. will play Canada, Belarus, and Australia in the second round. If I’ve subtracted correctly, the Monday game will start at 2:15EST.

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Ya, the US won, but Mechelle wants to talk about Catch:

The sheer talent, the stats she has piled up, the team and individual honors she has accumulated — all of those things would be prominently mentioned were anyone discussing Tamika Catchings’ career.

But what we wouldn’t really be able to do — because this defies apt verbal description — is describe her effort. Oh, we could try, but … some things you have to see, and feel them as you’re seeing them, to really know what they are.

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A game worth getting up for. And, it looks like the AP has returned to ESPN’s pages (and Doug is listening to the US huddles):

France refused to capitulate, as Miyem scored nine points in the next six minutes. Her 3-pointer drew the French within 19-15.

During a timeout, U.S. coach Geno Auriemma asked his team who was guarding Miyem. Taurasi raised her hand.

Auriemma quickly subbed her out and put Sue Bird in.

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