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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Swin Cash realizes dream of returning to Olympics

When Swin Cash was named to the U.S. Olympic team back in 2004 it seemed like just the start of things for the former UConn star. She was just two years removed from wrapping up her collegiate career with a second national title and an undefeated season as a senior. In her second season as a pro she helped the Detroit Shock to the WNBA title. When she was informed that she made the 2004 Olympic squad, Cash was thrilled to a chance to play in the first of what she thought would be multiple Olympics.

Then a back injury which threatened to short-circuit her promising career, a feud with Detroit Shock coach Bill Laimbeer and the shock of being traded - twice left Cash with so many obstacles to overcome. She did not make the Olympic team in 2008 and many considered her to be a long shot to make the squad in 2012.

Well when the first 11 players to make the 12-member Olympic team were announced on Friday Cash's long road to redemption came full circle.

"When I got the call on my machine it was really emotional for me because I knew about the sacrifice and what it took to get back there," Cash said in a conference call on Friday. "I remember back in 2008 at the NBA studios with Teresa Edwards talking about basketball and I (told her) 'I am going to get back, that is my mission. I want to be playing and I am going to be in London.' (She was) just joking about and talking about it but it really brings you back to the last two or three years after the back surgery, after being traded and going through some personal things and still be traded in the same year as (making) the Olympic team. It is very special to me and back in 2004 when I got the call that I was going I was like 'oh, I have five more medals to go.' You never realize that nothing is guaranteed so for me this moment is really important."

Cash was not a lock to make the team. Even to get one of the 11 spots she had to be picked over Asjha Jones, her former teammate at UConn, and Candice Dupree, who was the leading rebounder for the U.S. squad at the 2010 World Championships.
"Swin has worked incredibly hard to put herself back in the mix, going to Seattle was about the best thing that could happen to her," UConn and U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma said. "Winning another WNBA championship, you dont get those by accident. Swin knows how to win, she is a winner always has been since day one at the University of Connecticut. She brings an energy and passion for the game that is unmatched. I am thrilled for her and thrilled that when everybody counted her out, here she is back again."

Auriemma, who does not have a vote when it comes to selecting the team but certainly made his feeling known to the committee and USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director. He had no qualms about the 11 players named to the team.

"You know when committees are great?" Auriemma said. "When you don't win and you blame the committee, that is when the committee becomes really important. I go to London and do lousy job coaching, they do a lousy job playing then I come back and say 'that committee did a lousy job picking he team.' In reality the reason you have a committee is from a coaching standpoint you can get obsessed with a certain kind of player, you can have a bad attitude towards a certain kind of player and it may not conducive to putting together the best team.

"I think you have a committee so you throw players on the table and say here is what we have to work with, here are the 21 finalists or whatever number that is and now let's put that team together. I would venture to say whoever has coached the Olympic team has never left the country and said 'you know what, that kid, that kid and that kid I did not want them on the team.' Most of the time a coach is going to get to coach the kinds of players they want to coach and the committee is just there to solidify that. I think this committee has done a fabulous job of picking those 11 players."

Another player that Auriemma was ecstatic to see make the cut was former Connecticut Sun guard Lindsay Whalen who was named over 2008 Olympians Cappie Pondexter and Kara Lawson.

"I don't think anybody in the beginning said if you don't pick Lindsay Whalen in the World Championship or the Olympic team you have done a bad job," Auriemma said. "Lindsay Whalen is a classic example of a kid who has worked her butt off and made herself into the player that she is. Of all the people picked for that team, I am probably most proud of how Lindsay got on that team. That is a reward for how hard this kid works."

USA Basketball has until June 18 to announce its complete 12-player team and the three alternates. With final detail being ironed out for a training camp in May it does leave USA Basketball with some issues to deal with.

"We've got a lot of things to plan to for what is going on, bringing family and friends and all that kind of stuff," Callan said. "As with all team selections it is 'you make it when you have to' (mentality) but we do have flexibility. We're trying try to put short training camp together during WNBA preseason. We'll talk a little bit, do we have to bring the 11, do we want to bring a couple more. Do we want to make a decision after that or do we want to make it before."

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