Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, July 16, 2012

No factions dividing U.S. team

The best tribute I could give the six former UConn stars who comprise half of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team is that if somebody not familiar with the Olympic team members were to wander into the training camp held over the weekend in Washington, they would not be able to tell which players were UConn grads and which ones attended other schools.

 There seems to be a tremendous amount of camaraderie on the U.S. team and I think the former Huskies should be commended for not allowing UConn and non UConn factions for forming.

 "People say it is a UConn clique but I joke around and I love Catch (Tamika Catchings), Angel (McCoughtry), Candace (Parker) and everyone," former UConn star Swin Cash said. "It doesn't mean that you have to g to UConn to have the love that we have here. We just try to embrace everybody. Obviously we have a special bond. We don't x anybody out of that at all."

Carol Callan, USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director, admires and is appreciative of how the former UConn stars have maintained close friendships with their college teammates while not making any of the other six players feeling like they are left out.

"What's interesting is you see the camaraderie (between former UConn teammates) but not as much as I thought I would see it," Callan said. "They have a very easy way with each other and it is very comfortable but they are also very cognizant of this being a different team and it is not like it becomes them (being part of) a bigger group in the inner circle which I think is maybe even more impressive."

Tamika Catchings, one of two former Tennessee stars on the team, gets a kick out of it when she is asked how former UConn and Tennessee stars coexist on the same team.

"At some point in time you put that to the side and you grow up and move onto the next level. People are like 'oh my God, Connecticut and Tennessee on the same team.' You know what, it is not only classified as a Lady Vol or a Husky now we are USA and we are representing something even bigger. "

U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma played against each of the six non Huskies when they were in college so he had a sense of what they were all about before he began his duties as national team coach. He probably knows former Louisville star Angel McCoughtry the best since she is the youngest of the non UConn products on the Olympic team and McCoughtry is the only one of the six to have played in the Big East. It should be noted that Catchings and fellow Tennessee alum Parker and former LSU star Sylvia Fowles own wins over Auriemma-coached UConn teams. It is pretty interesting that UConn was not involved in recruiting any of the six non-UConn Olympians.

"I didn't even know who Lindsay Whalen was in high school and she went to Minnesota and almost kicked out butts in the (2004) NCAA Final Four so I have always been a big fan of hers since college," Auriemma said. "Tamika Catchings we never had a chance to really get involved with but I've always loved her and she is my favorite player ever that played at Tennessee. She just plays so hard and plays with an intensity level and passion that you just have to love. Seimone, having coached against her all those years when she played at LSU ad Sylvia the same thing."

His relationship with Parker is the most interesting to watch. While the UConn/Tennessee games during Catchings time with the Lady Vols were something to behold, the relationship between Auriemma and Tennessee's Pat Summitt had yet to completely deteriorate. That couldn't be said during the Candace Parker era at Tennessee. I still remember after Tennessee beat UConn in Hartford and at the postgame press conference Parker and her fellow teammates would not only not touch the bottles of UConn water placed in front of them, they had looks on their face as if to say 'you don't think I'm going to drink that, do you?'

Auriemma and Parker seem to be on the same page and Auriemma has tremendous respect for the potential Parker has as a basketball player and Parker has a strong enough of a personality to dish it out as well as she can take it.

"Candace, we didn't recruit and I let her know that all the time," Auriemma said with a laugh. "She said 'well, I wouldn't have come there anyway.' "I am always trying to get her to believe that she is the best player in the world and she should act like it every moment of every day. That has been fun for me to watch her try to prove that there is nothing on the court that she can't do and which basically there isn't. I know what they are thinking, what bothers them, I know a little bit of how to tweak them a little bit so it has been fun. I have really really enjoyed it."

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