USA National Team Camp Gets Underway Today With Renewed Focus
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s third training camp under head coach Dawn Staley gets underway this morning in Seattle.
Featuring 19 members of the 2018-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team athlete pool, the USA will conduct practices Tuesday and Wednesday, then wrap things up Thursday with an exhibition contest against the China National Team.
“The expectations for our camp will be like the first two camps – try to build some chemistry,” said Staley following Monday night’s team meeting. “I think we can even push the envelope a little bit more with the staff being in place. And just get out there on the floor and allow players to learn and grow and continue to put the work in to be successful in the World Cup.”
While the USA has held two minicamps since September, this one will be a little different in several ways.
The main difference is that this three-day stretch will finish with the team’s first true, international test when the red, white and blue goes up against the China National Team on Thursday at KeyArena in Seattle (10 p.m. EDT and streamed live on usab.com/live).
“We’re still getting a feel for everything,” said the 5-foot-9 guard Tiffany Mitchell, one of the youngest players on the current roster, about her expectations at this minicamp. “Coach Staley’s still looking at everyone in this (player) pool. So, I think we’re probably going to keep things the same way, but probably change and adjust things as far as how we’re going to play in a game. It’s not just a training camp, we have a game at the end of it. That aspect will change things in the camp.”
Another adjustment is that this camp will be the first to feature a pair of three-time Olympic gold medalists, both of whom were playing in the 2017 WNBA Finals with the Minnesota Lynx during the USA’s fall camp and unavailable for the camp in February.
“Two players who have not been a part of the first two training camps are here, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles,” Staley noted. “They have been a big part of the success of USA Basketball and have a lot to teach some of the younger players.”
Augustus and Fowles – the only two current players who were on the team when Staley stepped in as acting head coach for the 2006 USA National Team’s first game of the Opals World Challenge in Australia – are both looking forward to stepping on the court for the second time in a USA jersey under coach Staley.
“I had forgotten all about that,” exclaimed Augustus when reminded of that game, which was also against China. “Time flies, everything kind of slips away. I feel so old! I used to like being the youngest one on the team. But obviously time passes and things change and I’ve really embraced my role (as a veteran).”
And finally, this is the first USA National Team camp under Staley where there are no new faces, a fact not lost on one of the most recent additions to the USA National Team pool.
“It’s going to be a little bit different in a sense that at the last camp in South Carolina some of us new people got added, so we were still learning,” said Brittney Sykes, who was added to the pool after participating in her first camp in February. “But now, a lot of the same people are coming back for this camp. And with the game at the end, some of the people’s mind-sets will be a little bit different because we’re prepping for a game.”
“I think it’s going to be an awesome camp,” remarked Augustus. “Obviously Dawn is a player’s coach. She played, so she understands from a player’s angle what we go through and the things that we need to prepare for. I’m just looking to get better, to learn a lot and, like Dawn said, teach a lot, knowing that we have a young crew with us and they’re looking to kind of mix it up a little bit. Hopefully I can pass along my knowledge from over the years to some of the younger players. As long as I’m able to be around and pass on that wisdom, I’m here to do whatever I need to do to keep our legacy going.”
Newcomer or veteran, it won’t matter once the ball is tossed up for the opening tip. Everyone wearing USA across her chest will want to contribute what they can to a victory in Staley’s first official game as a USA National Team head coach.
Tickets for Thursday’s USA-China game are available via StormBasketball.com or by calling the Storm at 206-217-9622.