News & Notes: USA Women's National Team Camp Day 1
News & Notes: USA Women’s National Team Camp Day 1
From gym to gym, it’s roughly 2,857 miles. That’s if you’re driving, too.
Nearly 3,000 miles separate the University of South Carolina practice facility in Columbia, South Carolina, where the USA Women’s National Team held its first training camp of 2018 back in February, and Seattle Pacific University’s arena in Seattle, where the USA began its April training camp today.
Twenty-two players attended the February camp, with 20 available for action. Sixteen have descended upon the Emerald City, not including the three – Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart – who call Seattle home with their WNBA team, the Seattle Storm.
This camp, though, features a couple of faces for the first time since 2016 and a pair of collegiate stars looking to break through.
Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, who were unable to attend the September 2017 and February 2018 USA Women’s National Team camps, are back in the mix this week in Seattle for the first time since winning gold with the U.S. Olympic Team in 2016.
“It feels good,” said Augustus. “Any time we come together, it’s a glorious moment. Now, to see a lot of new faces, these young players and me being in a position as one of the vets, it’s great to be around and to pass along some knowledge from over the years of playing with USA Basketball so we can bring them up to speed a bit faster.”
Fowles added her own excitement.
“I think you get a sense of urgency when you’re back, because we came out here cool, calm and collected,” Fowles said.
“In previous years, we’ve come out here going zero to 100, can’t slow down, turning the ball over, can’t get into a groove. I think it’s a good thing we’re getting this experience now early on. Now that we’re back, it’s like we’ve never missed a beat. I’m happy to be back!”
As for playing for coach Dawn Staley, it’s not actually the first encounter for Augustus and Fowles. As members of the 2006 USA National Team, the duo played under Staley while she served as acting head coach for the first game of the Opals World Challenge in Australia.
But, in her permanent role as USA Basketball’s Women’s National Team head coach through 2020, both players are excited for what’s to come under her tutelage.
“I’m loving day one,” said Fowles, who admitted she asked her teammates plenty of questions leading up to camp, trying to grasp a better feel for what to expect from Staley’s practices.
“I was kind of nervous for a little bit. But, I think she got it now. It was good. It’s good to be out here with the veterans. We have a couple of babies out here, so that mixture of youth. You can tell they are young ones because they are still going 100 miles per hour. Whew - we were there at one point. But, the first practice was good.”
“She’s a player’s coach,” added Augustus. “She understands the player’s side of everything, and she just finds ways to push us. Today, it was competitive. We just got after it from the jump. That’s what we look forward to when we play with USA Basketball. It was good today, I won’t lie.”
Arriving from Storrs, Connecticut, and Columbus, Ohio, Napheesa Collier and Kelsey Mitchell are fully aware this isn’t run-of-the-mill basketball.
“It’s a lot different in the way they play,” said Collier. “Obviously, they are bigger, faster, stronger, but they are just so much smarter in the way they play, too. There’s so much you can learn from them.
“I think just the fact that I’m smaller than most of our post players here, I have to play a lot smarter. Just getting around, I can’t bump them and force them out of the way like some of the other post players can.”
Mitchell, who competed with the 2017 USA Women’s U23 National Team, explained she’s already taken note of some important information from the veterans early in this camp.
“It’s a process. It’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.
“There’s a lot that I don’t know and I’m probably frustrated with it right now, but they say there’s a lot that I’m not supposed to know. The more that I’m around and being here for the process, just understanding that is something I’m already taking away.”
In addition, Mitchell is relishing the moment to accept some guidance from some of the veteran USA National Team stars
“It’s one of those things where you don’t know how to feel until after a while,” Mitchell said. “I’m still fresh on it, but to have a conversation on a personal level - because you never think it will happen – I would just say that it’s to be continued, just because it’s fresh to me.
“But, knowing that I can have a conversation with them, knowing what they’ve been through and paved the way for us to do, I’m definitely grateful to have them here to talk to me and teach me things that I truly don’t know.”
The USA Women’s National Team continues practice on Wednesday at Seattle Pacific University, ahead of Thursday evening’s exhibition game versus China at KeyArena.
The game, set for tipoff at 10 p.m. EDT, will be available for streaming at usab.com/live, as well as on USA Basketball’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Tickets to the game are available: http://bit.ly/18USAvsCHNtix