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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's a wrap

It was closing day on so many levels on Sunday.

First up was the scrimmage at the XL Center between the U.S. senior national team and the U.S. Select squad. The final event of the eight days of the training camp ended in style with Maya Moore scoring in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.

Moore, who scored more than 40 points in Saturday's scrimmage, had 32 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. She, along with former UConn teammate Renee Montgomery, were also 4-0 on Sunday. After the U.S. won the first and second quarters with ease, UConn and U.S. national team coach Geno Auriemma sent Moore and Montgomery to play for the Selects while Monica Wright and Jasmine Thomas moved over to join the national squad. The Select squad promptly won the third and fourth quarters.

"We don’t lose," Moore said. "Renee and I were 4-0 today."

After the scrimmage ended, Auriemma, Moore, Tina Charles and Kalana Greene had to scurry over to the state capitol for the start of UConn's national championship parade.

Hartford police estimated that 25,000 fans turned out for the parade and there was also a pretty good turnout at the exhibition game as well as Sunday turned into a carnival of Connecticut women's basketball.

"I think this is the dream when you are a little kid, just growing up watching players on TV and seeing women’s basketball, the excitement around it," Moore said. "I don’t think you could get any better. It is a celebration of the two most winning programs in women’s sports."

The impressive turnout wasn't lost on Carol Callan, USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director. After the scrimmage I asked her if it was realistic to expect a future national team camp or two to return to Connecticut.

"Today with just the reception from the UConn fans, it could not have been better," Callan said. "We pulled it together kind of quickly, didn'r have a whole lot of time to sell tickets. The reception was fabulous, exactly what I would think from UConn fans."

Callan was also thrilled with how much was accomplished during the eight days of training.

"It was better than I could have expected in terms of the play between the two teams," Callan said. "The mixing and matching (of the rosters), the competitiveness culminating in the last couple of possessions here, it is exactly what we had hoped for. Getting down to it in terms of value for us, it couldn't have been better. We had the chance to bring in the national team a little early and just have the younger players who played several summers with us just see the competitive level and maturity of the pros really helped them and I think everybody walks away with something to work on, keep getting better which is the advantage that we have."

Callan didn't rule out having a future training camp in Connecticut. Auriemma certainly liked having his support staff at UConn at his disposal.

"There is a comfort level for him that really makes it easier for everybody," Callan said. "The fact that there is as much interest makes the players feel, they know they are going to go overseas and everybody's going to be against them. It is really nice to have a situation where everybody is for them as we send them off. It is a great environment and we are happy to take advantage again if we can."

For a basketball standpoint, Moore and Charles certainly proved them belong on the national team as did former Louisville star Angel McCoughtry. Former UConn star Swin Cash was also a dynamic force who should very much be in any discussions regarding future national teams between now and the 2012 Olympics.

I also found it intriguing to see Auriemma work with college players who will face the Huskies next season as Stanford's Kayla Pedersen and Nneka Ogwumike, Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson (before suffering a left ankle injury on Friday), Duke's Jasmine Thomas and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender should all benefit from Auriemma's tutelage. I asked Geno if he thought his work over the last eight days could come back to haunt him when his team plays Stanford, Oklahoma, Duke and Ohio State next season.

"We will take a look at that next year and see if we can't make a couple changes to what we are doing just to screw them up a little bit," Auriemma said with a laugh. "I gave them a couple things that are going to mess up their heads a little bit too, so I didn't completely send them off in great shape. I'm sure a couple of them are pretty confused. I like it like that."

I spoke with Lavender and Thomas about the topic and there should be a story - possibly as soon as Tuesday - in the Register about what they got out of the week.

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Blogger Laurie Jones said...

Thanks Jim for the summary of the scrimmage. It's almost like being there.

9:42 AM 

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