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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Olympic role for Jen Gillom suits her well

Jen Gillom has done this Olympics thing before as a member of the United States women's basketball team which won the gold medal at the 1988 Olympics. Twenty four years later Gillom will be pursuing her second Olympic gold medal, this time as an assistant coach on Geno Auriemma's staff.

Gillom, in her first season as an assistant coach with the Washington Mystics, was in Connecticut on Wednesday when the Mystics played the Connecticut Sun so I was able to catch up with her and ask her about balancing hr WNBA duties with the excitement surrounding the upcoming Olympics.

"Sometimes you can lose focus of what you are doing now because of what is coming up," Gillom said. "I think I am doing a very nice job of it because I know this is just as important. The excitement, it is hard for me to hold that back. Especially the other day I was talking with Asjha (Jones) and Tina (Charles) and they are getting excited about it and you are kind of sharing little stories. Then you lose your focus again but then  you have to get yourself back.

"I am very excited about what is coming up. This is going to be an exciting Olympics and I am really looking forward to  the players coming in and working with some of the elite coaches and also what a team of accomplished players. Just the excitement of that week coming up, I  am just praying that all the players stay healthy. I am sure there are somew concerns for certain players there. I am sure they are all going to healthy and ready to go."

An outstanding post player during her career, Gillom will be working with the post players when the U.S. begins its training camp tomorrow in Washington, D.C. With players like the aforementioned Charles and Jones as well as Sylvia Fowles, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash, Gillom will have plenty of talent to work with.

"We have the best in the world, we have the best post player in the world," Gillom said. "You can't ask for anything better than that. All you have to do is keep them healthy, that is your task is easy. It is such a good feeling that you have those type of players  who can do multiple things and also  to have  people come off the bench that can be just as productive. It is a special group to have because you don't have to rely on a starting five, you have 12 great players and a lot of countries don't have that depth that we have. That is what makes this team so special, from 1-12 you can play them multiple minutes and you can get the same results."

Finally, I asked Gillom to compare the preparations from a coaching standpoint compared to how it was when she played in the Olympics.

"As a player there is a lot more camaderie, I guess you can say, with the team but sometimes I feel like it hasn't been that long since I have been away from the game (she retired from the WNBA in 2003) I still  kind of have that feeling of being a part of the players because I am able to get in there and joke with them, get on the court and push them around a little bit and still have that camaraderie with them. It is kind of a special deal for me because I am not so totally away from them. They know that I am their coach but at the same time they kind of look at me as that coach who can relate what they are going through."

I am en route to Washington as we speak so look for more blogs on the training camp beginning tomorrow.

OLYMPIC SEMIFINAL TICKETS AVAILABLE
One of the readers of this blog contacted me to let me know two tickets for the Aug. 9 Olympic semifinals are available for sale at face value ($196 including taxes and all fees). If anybody's interested, you can send me an email at jfuller@nhregister.com and I will give you the contact information so you can connect and purchase the tickets.

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