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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

UConn's Hartley, Stanford's Ogwumike kindred spirits

Shortly after receiving an invite from USA Basketball to take part in the inaugural FIBA 3x3 World Championships, Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike the noises began to rattle her cell phone.

Among the first people to reach out to Ogwumike was her soon to be teammate Bria Hartley, who will be across the court from her this afternoon in the anticipated No. 1/No. 2 matchup between Ogwumike's and the Cardinal and Hartley's Huskies.

"Bria Hartley is one of my closest friends in life," Ogwumike said. "We started out knowing each other in the AAU circuit. We traveled in the same AAU circuits, you see the same players and you end up seeing the same teams later on in the tournaments. We had rivalries but friendly rivalries when it came down to us getting recruited and talking about it as girls do 'oh, I don't know where we are going to go to school.'

"When it came to USA Basketball Bria has always been in my age group and I always competed with her except in the World University Games. We had so much fun with summer. Bria is a battler and it was a unique experience. The best ting is that our friendship allowed us to pursue that experience. The first thing when we got invited by Coach Carol (Callan), Bria was texting me saying did you hear we are doing 'no crowds just go out and play, woah this sounds like a great opportunity.'"

USA Basketball hand picked a team of Hartley, Ogwumike, Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins and Alyssa Thomas of Maryland to compete in a tournament to pick the U.S. team playing for the world title. As expected, the quartet rolled to xxx victories to win the tournament.

When the team returned to Colorado Springs for final preparations, mononucleosis kept Thomas from making the trip to Athens for the tournament so she was replaced by former UConn star Ann Strother.

After winning the first seven games by an average of 12.7 points per game, the U.S. had to fight hard to outlast Australia in the semifinals and France in the gold-medal match. The two one-point victories allowed Hartley and Ogwumike to return home with gold medals.

Before the game perhaps the two will share a quick hug and a few words but once the game starts, they will be all business.

"We go out there and we are trying to win but off the court we are really friendly," Hartley said. "We still talk a lot but when we are on the court we focus on trying to win the game."

Ogwumike concurs with Hartley on that matter.

"we are frenemies, we are best frenemies," Ogwumike said. "We are best friends when we compete for USA Basketball but we are enemies when it comes to December 29."

UConn signee Saniya Chong followed up a 23-point effort in the first half by adding another 23 in the second half to lead her Ossining (N.Y.) team to an 80-70 win over St. Anthony's in the semifinals of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center on Friday.

The 46-point effort propelled Ossining into Sunday's championship game against Irvington. The 5-foot-9 guard had five 3-pointers and was 18 of 18 from the free-throw line and also had nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

Also coming up on Ossining's schedule is a home game against Christ the King on Jan. 4 at 4:30 p.m. Christ the King is led by UConn recruiting target Sierra Calhoun.

When I spoke to Ossining coach Dan Ricci at Chong's letter of intent signing ceremony, he said they were planning to come down for the Jan. 5 UConn/Notre Dame game.

UConn recruiting target Jordin Canada had 13 points to lead her Windward School team to a big win against Long Beach Poly 49-38 in the semifinals of the Oaks Christian Tournament. Next up is tonight's championship game against defending CIF Division IV champion Bishop O'Dowd out of Oakland.

Fellow Class of 2014 UConn recruiting target Brianna Turner had a pair of 20-point games in the Alvin Lions Tournament on Friday.

Turner had 25 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and five blocked shots in a 91-29 win over Lamar and had 23 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots as Manvel beat Fort Bend Hightower 83-46.

Next up is a game against Channelview tonight in the championship game.

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