Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ultimate reward for a pair of true pros

If I were asked to give advice to a young player on how to approach the sport of basketball, I would likely make them spend a few hours watching Asjha Jones and Lindsay Whalen not only play the game but their preparation as well.

Obviously I am not alone as the two former teammates will be members of the U.S. Olympic team. Whalen received word of her selection late last month while Jones was officially named to the team today.

There are so many similarities in the way Jones and Whalen go about their business. Neither one of them cares about any individual statistics and are more interested in making winning plays than padding their stats. That is what makes them perfect picks. Sue Bird is the unquestioned floor leader of the U.S. squad. How many minutes Whalen, the only other true point guard on the U.S. team, figures to flucuate from game to game depending on the opponent, pace and way the game plays out. The same could be said about Jones, although it should be noted that Jones was absolutely brilliant in  being named the MVP of the EuroLeague Final Eight. The U.S. team is loaded with frontcourt players. Even after you get by the dynamic center duo of Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles, you have forwards Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry and Swin Cash as well as dynamic offensive players Seimone Augustus, Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore capable of playing small forward. But it was hard for the selection committee to overlook the familiarity and success rate Jones has against some of the best players in Europe.

I believe that final spot would have gone to Baylor's Brittney Griner had she not removed from name from consideration. I am sure there are those who could make an argument against Jones. When I picked my 12-play squad I selected Candice Dupree in large part because she was the leading rebounder for the U.S. team at the World Championships, Her numbers at that tournament are superior to Jones in every category except for steals. I don't think there would have been any complaints had Dupree been named the 12th player on the U.S. squad today. But there should not be an outrage about Jones  being named either. She is the consumate pro, an incredibly versatile offensive player who can thrive either at the high or low post and is a standout defender. I am sure there are those out there who have raised eyebrows over six former UConn players being named to play for the U.S. squad coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma. But anybody who has been the six former Huskies (Bird, Cash, Charles, Jones, Moore and Taurasi) play has to admit that each have the credentials to make the U.S. squad.

I've had the chance to see Jones and Whalen play throughout their pro careers so perhaps I am a tad bit biased but they add a professionalism to their crafts and are the type of team-first players that figures to serve the U.S. squad well. They've both had to pay their dues.

I won't be headed to Seattle next month when the U.S. Olympic team gathers for the first time since the squad was officially named but I am hoping to make my way down to American University in Washington, D.C. for the training camp in mid July to see how this U.S. team is meshing.

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