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Women's Hoops Blog

Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"

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July 30, 2008 5:24 PM

Live from Olympic training camp: Day 3

Posted by Jayda Evans

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE COLLAR: Donovan and her staff should work with the league's marketers. A couple of weeks ago the Team USA folks created the "Red, White, and Blue Collar" slogan that they are trying to get the players to adopt, emphasizing defense. It was made into a T-shirt by Nike and given to the players on Tuesday. Goestenkors wore it today. Basically it says "Red, White and" on the front with "Blue Collar" on the back.

THAT'S ALL: Parker made two free throws to end practice. The team is thanking the men for practicing with them this week and Donovan is complimenting the player's energy and effort, telling them for the first time that they won't practice on Thursday. Next up? China. But I still have more for the blog until the Games, so please continue to check back.

MEN IN THE MIX: The offense doesn't look as crisp today as the male practice players are blocking shots and picking off passes. Baskets also aren't falling for Team USA. Well, until Smith hit that three-pointer.

COACHES HUDDLE: Tara VanDerveer and Nell Fortner, the 1996 and 2000 Olympic coaches, respectively, are chatting with Stanford alum Jennifer Azzi on the sideline.

SWITCH: The teams have switched ends, Bird's group is now working with Thibault on zone defense.

WORKING SETS: After running through some offensive sets without opposing players, the lineup of Bird, Pondexter, Taurasi, Thompson, and Leslie ran through the play with the men as Donovan watched at half-court. On the other end, assistant coach Mike Thibault is running through plays with the rest of the team against the men.

LOOKING FOR SCREENS: Assistant coach Gail Goestenkors stopped play and gathered the post players at half-court with Donovan, expressing their displeasure with the lack of screens.

FINAL DAY: Since Team USA leaves at 10 on Thursday morning to begin their trek to Haining, China for the Diamond Ball Tournament, they cancelled practice on Thursday. Donovan said she likes the way the sessions are going and the real gelling will happen on the court against an actual opponent. It's scary to think of a Abby Wambauch situation happening with the women, but the tourney is going to be a good prep for the Olympics.

Media has been allowed in the facility and Olympic assistant coach Dawn Staley is working with head coach Anne Donovan in explaining a new game the team is going to play to work on getting stops. The rules are a little complicated, so I'll save the details.

The lineups are a little different going into the second hour of practice with PG Sue Bird playing the point with Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, and Lisa Leslie on her "white" squad. The "red" team is Kara Lawson up top with Kara Lawson, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Tina Thompson, and Diana Taurasi.

Right now, Candace Parker (red) and Cappie Pondexter (white) are waiting to sub in.

It's interesting to note that Staley believes Pondexter will take the least amount of time to adjust to the point guard role in international play. We talked about this on Tuesday for a story I' working on about Bird that should run in Thursday's paper.

"Cappie is a risk-taker," Staley said. "She's not afraid to mix it up, compete and make mistakes. So she's going to learn a lot quicker because she mixes it up and tries to do a whole lot of things. You can tell her what to do and what not to do where the other ones (Bird and Lawson) are more, 'let me be observant, let me see where I fit in.'"

In the Lawson versus Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen debate, USA Basketball president Val Ackerman said Lawson worked her way onto the team with her national team play and with Sacramento. Staley, the departing point guard the past three gold-medal runs, is happy for Lawson.

"Kara is in the same position that Sue was four years ago," Staley said. "She's new and has some reservations about who she's playing with and leading. It's natural for her to go through that and it's my job and Sue's job to help her through that. But she's a great complement to our team."

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July 30, 2008 9:25 AM

Jackson injures ankle

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm forward Lauren Jackson said she tweaked her right ankle in shootaround before her national team was set to play Brazil today. The Australians won, but the concern is Jackson's health heading into the Beijing Games. The three-time Olympian said she'll be healthy and it's just an "overuse" injury.

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July 30, 2008 8:15 AM

Cash update and other notes from Olympic training camp

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm forward Swin Cash will be part of the Olympics, although not as a player, as she had hoped. She'll join five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards in the NBC studio in New York to broadcast non-Team USA basketball games.

"It's kind of like watching at home in your living room, only I have to remember I'm not at home watching in my living room," Edwards joked.

Cash's duties means her lower back injury will get more rest, but she won't be part of the Storm's practices during the WNBA hiatus. The women's basketball portion runs Aug. 9-23. Seattle resumes WNBA play Aug. 28 at KeyArena against Houston.

But the opportunity is one Cash, 28, couldn't pass up. She was part of ESPN's in-studio NBA coverage and names ABC News anchor Robin Roberts, today's recipient of the 2008 Inspiring Woman award, as a role model.

"It was awesome for me to be in college and have her in our backyard at ESPN," said Cash of attending Connecticut while Roberts was an anchor on SportsCenter, among other programs with the network. "I was like a little kid in the candy store, always asking her questions and being a sponge. She would hold her own with all these guys and I would be like, 'Wow!' When she made the transition to Good Morning America, I knew anything was possible. She's been the biggest influence."

WINE AND WRISTS: Went to the WNBA's wine-tasting event at Cellar 360 in San Francisco on Tuesday evening and New York forward Ashley Battle easily won as best pitchwoman for the Beringer wines. Battle, who played two games for the Storm in 2005 before being cut by former coach Anne Donovan, played in Spain, where she told me they drink wine for breakfast. "Yes, breakfast. Or beer," she said. Her self-proclaimed love of wine helped her dive into the intricacies of the Chardonnay where the grapes are grown in Napa Valley. Even had me do the "Scope" taste, where you swish around the wine in your mouth to collect all the flavors.

Storm forward Shyra Ely was also in attendance, but isn't into wine, so she didn't do much talking about the product. I did learn that she'll "never be killed by a bear because I'll never be outside that long." I was trying to talk her into camping in Washington's gorgeous outdoors. "It'll never happen," she said.

Other players helping to pitch the wine to invited guests were Washington center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen, Houston center Michelle Snow, Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek and Sacramento forward Nicole Powell.

Powell was an expert. She swiveled her wrist around (without spilling the wine) to break up the aroma and when I commented about her smooth technique, she quickly quipped, "I'm a shooter, it's all in the wrists."

The two-hour event wrapped a long day for the players and staff. It started with a basketball clinic with about 70 kids in the morning, the opening of a Boys & Girls club in the afternoon, and the wine in the evening. "I'm wiped out," Ely said before boarding the charter limo bus back to the hotel. She'll be at the luncheon today and then head to Indianapolis on Thursday, returning for Storm practice on Aug. 9.

GOLDEN SHOES: Houston forward Tina Thompson went digging in her garage for shoes and came up with a gold pair of CB34s, Charles Barkley's collector Nikes. She's been wearing them to the Olympic training camp, appropriate because America is trying to bring home its fourth consecutive gold medal in women's basketball. You can read more about Thompson's thoughts heading into the Games here.

SANTOS DEPARTS: Storm forward Kelly Santos' plans changed and she left Seattle today to meet her Brazilian team in Haining, China for the Diamond Ball tournament. The national team is actually in Australia for one more tuneup game against the Opals today. It would have been a wild travel schedule full of too many time changes, that's why Santos isn't in Australia as she earlier thought she'd be. She's joined by Atlanta center Erika Desouza on the flight. Desouza fractured her lower right leg, but returned to play and should compete in the Games.

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