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Women’s World University Games Finalists Report For Camp

Colorado Springs, Colo. • July 31, 2011

More than two months have passed since the 14 finalists for the 2011 USA Women’s World University Games roster were announced, which seems like forever for a group of young athletes who are eager to take the next step in preparing for a gold medal.

“It was a long time,” said finalist Glory Johnson, an incoming senior at Tennessee. “I know we’re all excited that the wait is over and we can now get back on the court.”

“It’s always hard to wait,” added head mentor Bill Fennelly (head coach, Iowa State). “You get finalists for a team together in May and you get excited, but then you separate and everybody goes and does their own thing. It was really hard, especially when you saw the U19s and all the other USA teams playing.”

Since there was such a long gap between trials and training camp, it was up to the girls to stay in shape and prepare on their own.

“We had lifting and conditioning a couple times per week at my school,” said Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.). “Basketball-wise, I just worked hard doing workouts and training, and I know the rest of the girls did the same thing.

“We were all really hungry when we left here, so I think we all went back to our schools and trained really hard. I’m not worried about people being in shape or anything like that, but we’re definitely going to have to get used to each other and understanding the system and getting a feel for how we can play with one another. It’ll be interesting these first few days; there might be a turnover here and there, but I think we’ll be able to pick it up.”

The focus for Fennelly will be perfecting those things in a short amount of time, as he has just one week to get the team ready for international competition.

“The biggest thing is, No. 1, you have to check your ego at the door,” Fennelly said. “This is about USA Basketball. We have one week to do what every college coach in the country has a year or three years to do. We have one week to build a team, build chemistry, build trust and the bottom line is we have a lot of things to do in a short amount of time. We need great effort, great enthusiasm and certainly an attention to detail in a short amount of time. All of these kids are very talented; they know what’s expected of them.”

The final 12-member roster will be announced sometime before the team departs for Shenzhen, China, on Aug. 8, to compete in the 2011 World University Games women’s basketball competition. The USA, who will be defending its 2009 gold medal, has been slotted into Group B, along with Great Britain, Slovakia and Brazil.

The red, white and blue will train in China Aug. 10-13, and will open up competition Aug. 14 vs. Brazil at 10 a.m. (all times EDT). The USA will then play Slovakia at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15 and Great Britain at 6 a.m. on Aug. 16. Quarterfinals action begins on Aug. 18, with the semifinals and finals on Aug. 19 and 21, respectively.

“This is just an experience that not many people get, so I’m just trying to take it all in,” Delle Donne said. “I’ve never been to China before; getting to go there is incredible. And then to be able to compete for a gold medal is something that is amazing and I can’t wait to do it.”

While a gold medal is the ultimate goal, there is plenty more for the finalists to get excited about.

“I’m really excited to play with a great group of athletes,” Glory Johnson said. “Everyone has something to prove out here, and being able to play for a USA team is awesome; it’s a great experience to play with these girls, who have become great friends, and an awesome coaching staff.”

Still in the hunt for one of the final 12 spots on the 2011 USA World University Games Team are: Delle Donne; Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); Glory Johnson; Shenise Johnson (Miami/Henrietta, N.Y.); Lynetta Kizer (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.); Natalie Novosel (Notre Dame/Lexington, Ky.); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.); Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas); Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee/Morrilton, Ark.); and April Sykes (Rutgers/Starkville, Miss.).

Assisting Fennelly are Suzie McConnell-Serio (Duquesne) and Terri Williams-Flournoy (Georgetown).

The USA has won a record seven gold medals in the World University Games, and has earned at least a bronze medal in all years it has participated in the tournament except for one.

The summer may have passed slowly for those awaiting training camp, but the two-month wait is over, and now it’s go-time for the young athletes.

“We’re excited for the opportunity,” Fennelly said, “and now it’s our turn to get these girls ready to go.”