USA National Team Returns To Walter Reed
Oct. 2, 2009 - Washington, D.C.
|Candace Parker returned to the court yesterday and got right back into the groove of playing for the USA National Team.|
The USA Basketball Women's National Team returned to Walter Reed Army Medical Clinic on Saturday afternoon to host an open practice and clinic for members of the military and their families. Tomorrow the team will open another practice in the 2009 USA Basketball Fall Showcase at American University's Bender Arena. Tickets ($5.00 apiece, children under six get in free) can be purchased at the door for the noon event. USA Basketball.com polled a few people to find out how today's clinic went, what fans can expect for tomorrow, and a few other tidbits.
USA head coach Geno Auriemma,
How do you feel the team is coming along?
This was just our fourth practice today. I think we've accomplished an awful lot. I've been really pleased with how attentive they are and how much energy there is in the gym every day. Players are being really competitive and they're unselfish. They work really, really hard. We've been able to put a lot of things in because they learn quickly. I'm totally satisfied with everything that's going on so far.
On the five injured players:
It's hard for them, I understand. They're not able to be involved in any of the competition, but they've made themselves part of it. They do get involved in some of the drills to the extent that they're allowed to be, given their conditions. Some can do more than others. All of them are benefitting from being here. They can see, you can learn a lot just by watching. They're all pretty smart kids. It doesn't take a lot for them to pick things up. It's been a good experience for them, even though they're disappointed they can't be playing.
On the USA Basketball Fall Showcase:
From a basketball standpoint it's going to be run up and down and play. That's what the kids want to do. How well it looks, I don't know. How smooth it looks, I don't know how much you can do after four days. I think that anybody who comes out will see some of the best players in the world competing against each other and competing at a high level. I've got some of the best players in the world on my team. Then I watch this group play and I'm like, â€˜wow! I didn't know they could do that.' So there's going to be a lot of people that come to that event tomorrow who will be pleasantly surprised. I'm sure they've all seen good players, but they haven't seen this many good players on the floor at the same time.
Jayne Appel, Stanford University
How difficult has it been to sit out this week and what have you gotten out of it?
I definitely think it's a good idea to be out here. It's been really hard to be on the sidelines watching, especially when I've been so close to playing. I think it's been a great experience for me to come out here. I've learned a lot just from talking to the players and picking their minds about the next level. Watching them on the court almost has its advantage. It's definitely been worth it.
Has it helped having other injured players out there with you?
Yeah, it would be a lot harder if I was the only one. We were saying that if we all got healthy we'd have a full squad.
On today's clinic:
It was fun. They were really excited to be interacting with us, playing with us. It wasn't so much about basketball as it was about having fun with them, letting them get out there and bounce the balls around a little bit, get their minds off of other things for an hour.
Sue Bird, Seattle Storm
On today's clinic:
The kids were really good. There were a lot of ages. I happened to work with the really little ones, which was adorable. Their spin moves and their between the leg dribbles were quite impressive and very cute. They were very fun to work with. Everyone was really good. They were attentive. We had a lot of fun with them.
Is it important to give back to the community, especially the military, like this?
Oh yes, it's very important. Obviously, in terms of the military, they do a lot for us. They do a lot for the country. We had the opportunity to do this for some of their kids and it was a good experience.
On tomorrow's USA Basketball Fall Showcase:
I think fans can expect to see a lot of competitiveness, a lot of aggressiveness and people who are really good basketball players. They're going to see a lot of talent out there. It should be a good show.
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky
On today's clinic:
I had fun. It's very interesting when you can make a kid's day. Just to be able to go out there and teach them the basics that we had to learn to get to this point, it's very interesting. We had a lot of Energizer bunnies out there and they made my day. I'm happy I can return the favor.
Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
How does it feel to be back with the USA National Team
It feels great to be back out here. Obviously I'm excited. It's weird to think that four years ago I was just starting with USA Basketball on the National Team level. It's always good to get a head start, I'm excited. I think we're doing really well in training camp. I'm looking forward to it.
On playing without the recently retired USA Basketball veterans:
It's weird they're not here. Lisa texted me on the bus ride. I told her I missed her. It's weird, especially with me playing with her in LA and USA Basketball, it's weird not to have her here. But I think that every good thing has to come to an end for something else to start. That's what we're doing, we're going for our fifth Olympic gold medal in a row and I think it's a good start.
On some of the younger players:
There are a lot of young players here who have done well with this being their first training camp. I think Tina Charles has done a remarkable job. She's had great practices, as well as Maya Moore. Other players who have been here have done well also. Crystal Langhorne, she's my age and has been here before, she's played well. I'm excited about where this is headed.
On playing for Geno:
It's great. You know, everybody hears about the rivalries of Tennessee and Connecticut, but when we come here everybody puts away those jerseys and puts on a USA Basketball jersey and plays on the same team. I've learned a lot just in the two days I've been here, from him and his coaching staff. It's a great way and direction that USA Basketball went.
Lindsay Whalen, Connecticut Sun
How did you think practice went today from your sideline vantage point?
I thought practice went really well. Everybody looks good. Everybody's having fun. Everyone's intense, learning the plays, learning the system. It's been really fun.
You hosted a clinic for military families today. How did that go?
The clinic went well. We got to meet lots of good kids from here, good people. We tried to teach them some fundamentals and skills you learn when you're starting basketball. Hopefully they took some of that away from it.
How difficult is it for you to be sitting on the sideline and watching?
It's definitely tough because you know you want to be out there. You know you want to be competing. I'm just trying to stay positive with it because there's not much you can do, other than try to learn the system and get to know everybody a little bit better. I'm just trying to take the opportunity to do those kinds of things. Obviously you want to be out there, but these things happen. You have to find the positives in the situation. I think that's what all five of us have tried to do. It's nice having people on the sideline you can talk with about things on the court, talk about ideas, so that's been cool.