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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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Posted by Si

6:20 PM, Jul 30, 2008

Everybody's probably tired from a long, long day yesterday... just curious- the men's practice squad... who do they comprise of... not names per se, but where are they rounded up from... colleges, the CBA, WNBA practice squads?

Posted by ddp55389

5:08 AM, Jul 31, 2008

Kara being picked over Whalen is a joke but go ahead keep trying to cover up your excuse and keep believing what you want. In 2012 when Lindsay brings home the gold you'll be wishing she was on this year team when you bring home the bronze.

Posted by RTrue

10:09 AM, Jul 31, 2008

That's a good question, Si. I wanted to ask something similar, but was afraid it might be too lame. :-O But now that it's out there, I'll take it one step further- what is the thinking, if any, of it being an all-male practice squad? Why men and not women, or a combination thereof?

And Jayda- Si directed me to your Sue Bird article in the sports section this morning- sweet profile!!! We don't get spoiled with coverage like that in the L. A. Times!

Posted by Diane

11:08 AM, Jul 31, 2008

ddp55389-

Take the time to read the article Jayda did on Sue today. It shows even Sue's ascendence to the starting PG position didn't happen overnight, but only after many long years (6 yrs.) of playing behind Staley.

The international game is different from college, WNBA, or even the usual Euro leagues. Maybe players in other positions can just be thrown in there and do well, but not PG. It takes time to learn not only how to play by those rules, but to lead the National Team in international play.

Lawson's put in that time. Whalen has not. Even though both were marriedllast year, Lawson found a way to play with the National Team (as well as fulfill her duties with ESPN). Whalen skipped those training sessions, and therefore didn't have the experience to be ready for these Olympics.

If Whalen shows commitment to the program in the future, I believe she could be on the Olympic team in '12. Just not now-she's not ready.

Posted by Jayda

11:14 AM, Jul 31, 2008

RTrue and Si: Hey! First off, the women practice against the men because the guys are usually stronger than anyone they'll face in competition. It also helps to practice against someone else to stave off injury playing each other, like when Fowles was popped in the eye the other day. But Team USA did a lot against each other because it was slightly better competition. Like CP4 blowing past Bird in a scrimmage. The guy PG's weren't that fast. As for who they are, one actually played for my Dad at the University of San Francisco. His name is Johnny Dukes. Ali Thomas also played for USF, but not for my Dad. The guys were all a collection of players put together by Jon Greenberg, the director of the summer San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am League. Some had even returned from a tournament in Seattle last weekend, facing the same sked as the players with playing on Sunday and then traveling the same day as practice on Monday.

Posted by Diane

11:24 AM, Jul 31, 2008

BTW Jayda, any way you can swipe some of those R, W, and BC shirts? ;-)

I'd love one!

Posted by Jayda

11:36 AM, Jul 31, 2008

Diane: Me too! And you know it'll be for sale, Nike doesn't miss an opportunity to make a buck. Bird said she usually gets a few extra things for gifts and what not, so maybe upon her return, the Storm will have a swag bag of Olympic stuff to raffle off? But I can't imagine that shirt not being in stores soon. It's too sweet.

Posted by John

12:12 PM, Jul 31, 2008

there was talk a couple of years ago that the NCAA was
going to ban male practice players in the women's game
Several coaches publicly came out against the ban. Said
that it really helps the ladies improve their game

Posted by John

12:18 PM, Jul 31, 2008

should call them gotchas instead of captchas

Posted by ddp55389

3:55 PM, Jul 31, 2008

"Lawson's put in that time. Whalen has not. Even though both were marriedllast year, Lawson found a way to play with the National Team (as well as fulfill her duties with ESPN). Whalen skipped those training sessions, and therefore didn't have the experience to be ready for these Olympics."


Yea, because in all honesty Whalen should of did the training instead of getting ready for her wedding. Give me a break. (eye roll) If they are going to use those ultimatum then all rules should to apply to every players even the ones who have seniority.

Posted by Diane

10:52 AM, Aug 01, 2008

They do use that as a basis for picking a team.

With WNBA and Euro league obligations, USAB doesn't have much time to bring players together to practice. So those times are extremely important in learning plays, building chemistry, etc.

It's even more important for a PG to be there, because she's going to be the coach on the floor and needs to get everyone together in the little time they have to practice.

Whalen missing those practices/tours was unfortunate. It was a choice she made and she knew that it might affect her chances of being picked. Lawson probably understood that it was important she needed to be there, and made the effort.

Why Whalen missed (wedding) has little to do with why she wasn't selected. The fact she missed important training time with the team is more the reason. If there was another reason for her to miss, the outcome would've been the same-no team.

Recent entries

Jul 31, 08 - 11:37 AM
Olympic reading

Jul 30, 08 - 05:24 PM
Live from Olympic training camp: Day 3

Jul 30, 08 - 09:25 AM
Jackson injures ankle

Jul 30, 08 - 08:15 AM
Cash update and other notes from Olympic training camp

Jul 29, 08 - 03:49 PM
Mailbag: Aussie feedback

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