USA National Team News & Notes: USA Wraps Domestic Training
So Long to the USA …
After a week and a half, 19 athletes athletes in contention to start, four practices and games in three cities, the USA Women’s National Team wrapped up its domestic training camp on Wednesday afternoon with 10 finalists in Washington, D.C., and is ready to hop across the pond for the next step in its journey to the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
“It was a great camp,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley. “We appreciate all the players who came, who were committed and sacrificed time away from their families to help us prepare. Now the numbers are down to where it’s little bit more manageable.”
Two-time World Cup gold medalist Tina Charles (New York Liberty) also was positive about wrapping up this portion of the team’s training.
“We know there will be another cut before we go to Spain, but everybody here is just happy to be here, trying to execute everything and do all of the things that the coaches are asking them to do,” said the 6-foot-4 center.
… Bonjour la France!
Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, who helped the Phoenix Mercury advance to the WNBA semifinals, will join the 10 current athletes in Antibes, France, where the USA will play three more exhibitions, against Canada (Sept. 15), Senegal (Sept. 16) and France (Sept. 17).
Staley is looking forward to the addition of the two Olympians once the team lands in France.
“We get to add Diana (Taurasi) and Brittney (Griner) to the fold,” she said following the final practice in D.C. “So, two more seasoned vets will help us prep a little more in France, and then we’re onto to the Worlds.”
Stay tuned to the USA’s journey at USAB.com and on USA Basketball’s social media channels.
Every Day is Laundry Day
Imagine being invited to a training camp, thinking you only need to pack for a couple of days. But after three days, you’re asked to stay another three days. And then another three. And then told you’re going to need your passport, because you’ll be around for almost another week at the very least.
That’s the scenario that University of Connecticut 6-foot-1 guard/forward Napheesa Collier has lived for the past nine days.
“I packed really lightly,” joked Collier, who has made it through three cuts and is hoping to make the final USA World Cup roster when it’s announced after the three games in France. “I need to wash things really often!”
The 2018 FIBA World Cup tips-off in 10 days. In less than two weeks, the USA, which may not know who the 12-member team is until as late as Sept. 17 or 18 if the Mystics push the Storm to five games in the WNBA Finals, will face Senegal (Sept. 22), China (Sept. 23) and Latvia (Sept. 25) in preliminary round games.
That number was a little shocking to USA head coach Dawn Staley.
“When you’re in preparation, you just have your head to the ground,” said Staley. “You don’t really think about the days. But when you just said that, it gets a little under your skin somewhat because you feel like you need some more days to prepare somewhat.”
The three exhibition games in France will provide the USA a chance to continue improving, while also getting closer to determining its official, 12-member roster for the 2018 FIBA World Cup.
The situation prior to the 2014 FIBA World Cup was similar, with the USA adding players late due athletes taking part in the to the WNBA Playoffs and Finals.
Charles was on the 2014 USA team as it lost to France in an exhibition game.
“We were in Paris,” Charles said of the exhibition loss to France. “We had a lot of players, and the coaches were trying to get a lot of players out there. Sometimes, you are shoring up the rotation, like we did against Canada, in order to come with the victory. But, France is a good team. We have a lot of respect for every team that we play against. We don’t underestimate anyone, and we know they are going to bring their best.”
Age and Experience
Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever) is one of the youngest players on the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team roster, but that difference is something she mostly notices off the court.
“Definitely off the court I feel like a younger player,” Mitchell explained. “They do a lot of stuff that I don’t understand yet. I’m young from that standpoint. But, on the court, I would say I try my best to blend in. So, I don’t really feel like I’m younger.
“Not necessarily eating healthy, because I’m not a terrible eater myself. But, it’s stuff like going to bed early and stretching right after practice. I was talking to Layshia, and she was like, ‘I got to get my stretching in.’ It’s different to see. It’s a little funny, but you applaud them for taking it that serious.”
And while Kelsey Mitchell might be smiling at the rigors of years in the league, she is listening, too.
“Yeah, for sure, if I want to play as long as they have been playing,” she said when asked if she will add some of those things to her routine.