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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tina Charles, Maya Moore lead next generation of U.S. stars

There must have been times when former UConn stars Tina Charles and Maya Moore wondered if the Olympics would ever get here.

It seems like a lifetime again when they were among the first 11 players named to the U.S. Olympic basketball team back in late March.

Now they are just a couple of weeks away from their Olympic debut.

“It is kind of like torture at this point. I just want to get over there and play. I obviously do enjoy every minute that I have with USA group but I definitely am ready to play,” said Moore, who had 11 points, six rebounds and three steals in Monday's exhibition win over Brazil. “We have been talking about it for so long now. I just want to get out there.

“I am going to come out with as much energy as I can to make sure we can cause some chaos for the other team, being aggressive on the offensive end and doing anything I can to help my team.”

Charles teams with Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker to give the United States an embarrassment of riches in the post. They are also three of the five U.S. players 26 of younger.

“I am really excited to be around these group of girls,” said Charles, who had nine of her 11 points in the third quarter and added 10 rebounds. “I am definitely learning every day. I am just trying to follow their lead. Me and Maya are the youngest ones here so we are looking up to everybody.”

Charles and Moore were headliners on back to back UConn national championship teams and they became an unstoppable tandem later in their careers. There was some of that magic and on-court chemistry between the two during the final U.S-based training camp before the team heads overseas.

 “We had a little connection in practice,” Charles said. “I pointed up and she threw an alley up and it is good to see we still have it. “It is always great to be (playing) with Maya. Maya is a big reason for my success. I looked up to her even though I am older than her when I was at school; just her approach to the game definitely helped me along the way.

Moore, who was a year behind Charles as UConn, is looking forward to sharing the experience of going after an Olympic gold medal with her college teammate.

“We haven't really had a chance to have a good time together since she graduated so it is going to be fun to hang out with her, the off the court moments,” Moore said. But it’s not only the two youngest former Huskies who are loving life as an Olympian. Asjha Jones is also a first-time Olympian, Swin Cash is going for her second Olympic gold medal while Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are three-time Olympians. “There is definitely a sisterhood with some of the veterans, Asjha, Swin, Sue and Dee it is really spectacular how that generation of players from UConn are still being so dominant, it is really cool,” Moore said. “I am really proud of them and happy to be associated with them that way. It is something we don't necessarily think about when we are out here. We are just kind of playing at a level we don't even realize it.”

U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said that Asjha Jones could have played in Monday's game against Brazil but he wants to give the former UConn star a chance to get as close to 100 percent as she can.

Jones injured her left foot and ankle when she stepped on Michelle Snow's foot late in last week's WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and Washington Mystics. She missed Friday's game against Chicago and Saturday's U.S. national team practice. She did some stuff in Sunday's practice and warmed up before Monday's game before sitting out.

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