Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A little Olympic talk

Tina Charles and Asjha Jones will play in the Olympics for the first time but there's no question that there's a different vibe surrounding the selections of two of the six former UConn players to the team.

Much of it is because Charles was pretty much considered to be a no-brainer pick and also she figures to have a chance at taking part in multiple Olympics. In the case of Jones, who is heading into her 12th WNBA season, this was likely her final chance to make the squad and the fact that she was the 12th and final player named to the team only added to the magnitude of the achievement,

"I was told I wasn’t on the team so I had no expectations of getting that 12th spot so for me I was already done with it," Jones said. "I was already moving on and I was still playing in Spain and I was worried about that.

"We knew that (Brittney) Griner had dropped out and I saw that Carol had called me She is texting me and saying you need to call me. I was at the Bank of America because somebody had stolen my card number and was shopping on it. I was there to fix that and that was when I talked to Carol outside the Bank of America so it was a pretty good day."

Perhaps only Asjha Jones could look at a day including somebody running up a tab on her credit card as a "pretty good day."

Jones joins her former UConn teammates Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi on the U.S. Olympic team. The fact that Bird, Cash and Jones were part of the same recruiting class makes the accomplishment all the more staggering.

The class already made history following up a perfect senior season by having Bird, Cash, Jones and Tamika Williams all go in the first six picks of the 2002 WNBA draft. Now three of them will be on the Olympic squad together.

"We are happy," Jones said. "Swin is all emotional about it about how all of us were going to play together again and how awesome it is. She is the type of person who puts things in perspective so talking to her made me think and made me realize how big it actually is, six (UConn players), four of us (from 2001-02 national championship team) and how amazing that was, she kind of put that in perspective for me."

Charles was among the first 11 players named to the team back in late March but even now the honor of being selected is something that means the world to her.

"It is definitely a special feeling, it is a blessing," Charles said.

"Especially with the time difference I would try to stay up and watch the Games or set my alarm clock so it is a dream come true for any athlete to go to the Olympics alone even if you win a medal or not, I think it is the ultimate.

I’ll be taking a lot of pictures, I will be looking forward to it but of course you have to key on the main task and that is the bring home the gold."

Montgomery was the only former UConn star in the player pool who failed to be named to the team. She was thrilled to see current teammates Charles and Jones as well as her former UConn teammate Maya Moore be named to the team  but was disappointed that she did not make the cut.
"It was definitely difficult," Montgomery said. "The Olympics are something that you don’t know where your body would be in four years and even though I am only 25 you don’t know what could happen with injuries or anything that could happen. Even in the Olympic year you could get selected and you could get hurt. It is not something you can take lightly because it is not something that next year I am going to go after it and I am going to make the team because it only comes around once every four years,. It goes from being a short term goal to going back to being a long term goal again and that is kind of tough. Obviously I wanted to make it in the worst way but then to see (three) of my real close friends make it, I am going to have a connection."

While former Tennessee star Kara Lawson is the Tennessee graduate from the Connecticut Sun who has been asked about Hall of Famer Pat Summitt's decision to relinquish day to day coaching responsibilities, there is another former Lady Vol playing with the Sun. So I asked Sidney Spencer about her take on Summitt's decision, which came about as a result of her battle with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

"She is an incredible coach, incredible mentor, incredible woman," Spencer said. "I think what she has done will continue to impact this game forever, I have a feeling that what she is going to do now as far as what she is going to contribute to different charity things will impact the world just as much as she has impacted the basketball world so I think there are great things to come.

"I have through word of mouth I have tried to call her. I know she has been pretty busy but I pray for her every night."

With the Connecticut Sun having the maximum 15 players in training camp, a cut will need to be made when Mistie (Bass) Mims reports. That is expected to happen on Saturday so it will be interesting to see which of the players is the first to go.

Mims and Spencer, the other veteran added in the offseason, as well as returning players Jones, Charles, Montgomery, Lawson, Kalana Greene, Tan White, Danielle McCray, Kelsey Griffin and Allison Hightower won't be going anywhere. That leaves Jessica Breland, second-round pick Chay Shegog and undrafted players Dawn Evans, Brittany Carter and Stefanie Murphy (who is in training camp for the second straight year) as the candidates.

Speaking of Evans, she signed with Arras in the French pro league on Tuesday and on Wednesday the site reported that Connecticut Sun first-round pick Astan Dabo also signed with Arras.

It was already reported that UConn and Maryland will be playing in the 2012 Jimmy V Classic. Earlier today ESPN announced that the game will be played on Dec. 3. The game will be played on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at either Gampel Pavilion or the XL Center while the UConn men will play North Carolina State in the second game of a doubleheader on Dec. 4 at approximately 9 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

The UConn women figure to be ranked second, only behind national champion Baylor, at the beginning of the 2012-13 season while Maryland should be a top 10 team so it will be a tough early test for both teams.

During the Final Four I asked Maryland's All-American sophomore forward Alyssa Thomas about the prospects of playing UConn.

"We are looking forward to playing them next year, they are a great team," Thomas said. "We are looking forward to playing them next year, they are a good team and a good program. Playing other teams from different conferences gives you different looks and prepares you going into the NCAA tournament."

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