USA Women’s World University Games Team Ready For South Korea
Following a week-long training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team is ready to travel to South Korea for the next step in its preparations for the July 5-13 World University Games.
Three-time defending gold medalists at the WUGs, the U.S. wrapped up training camp in the U.S. on June 26, and will practice June 29-30 in Seoul before traveling to Guangju, site of the 2015 World University Games, on July 1.
“I thought we did a great job of learning how to play together, learning each other’s games and bonding as a team,” said USA and Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown of his team’s week-long domestic training. “I’ve been really impressed with the way everybody’s been unselfish. We still need to work on execution more than anything, everybody buying into their role. Also, we want everybody to enjoy the experience, even knowing that everyone wants to beat us. We want to make smart basketball decisions and play really hard.”
“This team reminds me of one of my first teams because more than half of the girls have never been a part of USA Basketball,” said Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Norcross, Ga.), who won four gold medals playing for USA Basketball from 2010-12. “I think it’s really exciting for them, and it makes me more excited, almost like I’m new to this also. But, being one of the veterans, I try to be a leader, stay positive and be encouraging to the rest of the girls.”
During the Colorado Springs practice sessions, the squad learned new plays, played some competitive games against each other, and in the evenings scrimmaged a group of local guys. Off the court they bonded quickly after living, eating and practicing at the United States Olympic Training Center.
“Training camp went really well,” said Courtney Range (California/Manteca, Calif.), who is playing on her first USA Basketball Team. “I had a great time with different players, made friendships, learned different stuff that I didn’t know. I’m looking forward to heading to Korea. I can’t wait to start playing actual games and hopefully bring home the gold.”
Two of the USA team members did not play an organized game over the past year. DeShields transferred to Tennessee from North Carolina following her freshman season in 2013-14. Also at Tennessee, Mercedes Russell (Springfield, Ore.) had off-season surgery on both feet and did not play in 2014-15. Both could only cheer on their team from the bench and DeShields says she is more than ready for a real game of basketball.
“Absolutely,” exclaimed DeShields when asked if she was ready for the competition to begin. “Not just because it’s USA Basketball, but because it’s my first time playing, getting my feet wet, as far as basketball goes, in the past year. Hopefully I can do my best to help us get a gold medal.”
The USA opens Group C play against Italy on July 5, before playing China on July 6 and Czech Republic on July 7. Playing in Group A will be Canada, Hungary, Mozambique and South Korea; Group B includes Japan, Mexico, Russia and Sweden; and Group D features Australia, Brazil, Taiwan and Uganda.
The quarterfinals will be played on July 9, the semifinals are on July 11, the bronze medal game is on July 12 and the gold medal game is set for July 13.
USA Basketball women’s teams have participated in 17 World University Games and collected a record nine golds, six silvers and one bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, USA women’s teams have compiled a 101-15 all-time record. The USA has won gold medals in the past five WUGs in which it has competed (2001, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013).
McKeown believes his team has what it takes to extend the USA’s golden streak.
“I think the strength of our team will be our depth,” he stated. “We have really good opportunities to play inside-out and we have a lot of people who can come in and out. I think we can wear people down. To me, that’s our number one strength.”