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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Former UConn stars look ahead to playing on 9/11

Four of the players at the U.S. national team camp happen to be former UConn stars who grew up in New York. With the U.S. playing an intrasquad scrimmage in Delaware tomorrow on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the folks at USA Basketball got reaction from Sue Bird, Tina Charles and Bria Hartley about playing on that day.

What is the significance of playing on 9/11?

It has been 13 years since 9/11 but it still feels like yesterday. I could tell you exactly where I was, exactly what I was doing and I know it will be like that for the rest of my life and everybody else who was in America that day, everyone who is an American for that matter.

The one thing that I have always really enjoyed about USA Basketball, was the minute that you put the jersey on, obviously you are in a competitive environment and you are trying to win gold medals and you get focused on that but really at the end of the day you have an entire nation behind you and you are representing them and they are cheering for you. It is always good, especially on days like 9/11, on the anniversary of it to have a good feeling in those moments. So, I know tomorrow when we put our jerseys on we’ll know people are watching and thinking about that day but also hopefully watching us just enjoy ourselves out there on the court and supporting us.

Where were you on 9/11?

I was in college. I was in class, I was in college, our professor’s phone kept ringing, he’s ignoring it, he’s ignoring it, it kept ringing, it kept ringing, he’s ignoring it, he’s ignoring it. And actually, Swin, who was a little late to class, she’s my roommate though; she came in and was like guys, I think something happened at the World Trade Center today and we were like ok, but she didn’t actually see the news.  It kept ringing, it kept ringing, So we go to the next class and the teacher was like everyone go home and call your loved ones, what just happened might be worse than Pearl Harbor. So we were like ‘what the hell is going on?’ I finally got back to my dorm room and turned the news on. I will never forget that story.

What do you remember most about 9/11? Where were you?

I usually get very emotional when it comes to 9/11, just being born and raised in New York and being in the eighth grade when it happened. My mom works in the Empire State Building, so she got caught up in everything down there. I just remember being in eighth grade, my mom was covered in debris when she came to get me so it was very, very emotional. Tomorrow will be very emotional for me. But just to the families, prayers and thoughts are with them.  I was able to check out the 9/11 museum that opened this May and that was awesome, just to take it from what it was and what they were able to do with everything was very emotional.

On the significance of playing for your country on 9/11:
That is even more humbling. It makes you appreciate what you do – playing basketball and how basketball breaks many barriers and can take you away, help you put things aside and put your focus on this and let you enjoy something instead of remembering everything that happened.

Is there more of an impact for this team, playing tomorrow on the anniversary of 9/11 after being around the military the past three days?
I think so, especially me being from New York that was definitely a moment that really stands out from when I was younger and just the fact that all the military was there and that we’re playing and representing the country that definitely means a lot and shows a lot of pride for the US.
Where were you on 9/11?
I will always remember, my mom used to work across the street from the Twin Towers and actually that morning for some reason she decided to drive into work and she was late because I dropped her keys between the seats. So I was really fortunate that she wasn’t there. She was actually on the bridge when the planes hit. And I just remember that I was with my aunt getting ready to go to school. I’m sitting in the van and she went inside for a quick second and I was wondering what was taking so long so I went inside and I saw it on the TV. It was really disturbing but it was something that I will always remember even though I was only in the fourth grade at the time but that is a memory that really stands out.

Also, here are some quotes from current UConn star Breanna Stewart looking ahead to tomorrow's scrimmage.

Today was the first day that you went 5-on- 5, how did that feel?
I felt like the first game we played was a little rough. I think we were a little all too excited, I mean, that was the first time we have really scrimmaged this whole time. Once we settle in and especially the second game, we cut it a lot closer we had the lead for the majority of the game. So that makes us feel better going into the game tomorrow. Just to be able to get some kind of chemistry with your team obviously that makes you feel more comfortable and confident when you go out there tomorrow.

What did you do well and did you feel you need to work on?
What I feel like I did well, I feel like I was trying to keep moving on offense. That is the one thing that has been instilled in me at UConn - keep moving – because it makes it harder for the defense. And I think that Sue is a vet and she did a great job leading the team today. Whenever we seemed to be struggling she brought us all in together, talked to us and kind of calmed us down. I think that to finish the way we did, that is a good start for us for tomorrow

What can fans expect from tomorrow’s scrimmage?
I think fans should be looking for a good game. Obviously the committee split the teams up for a reason and to create some good matchups and that hopefully the White Team can pull out the win.

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