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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UCLA's Fields, UConn's Nurse to meet again

As the two youngest players on the Canadian national team, this has been a summer to remember for UCLA junior Nirra Fields and UConn freshman Kia Nurse.

After competing in the upcoming FIBA World Championship for Women, the two will go their separate ways before meeting up again on Dec. 21 at Mohegan Sun Arena when the Bruins and Huskies meet in the Hall of Fame Women's Challenge.

I caught up with Fields (who unfortunately injured her shoulder and was unable to play in Monday's exhibition game between the U.S. and Canada) after Sunday's scrimmage between the two teams and she made it clear that the UCLA players are fired up about getting to square off with the two-time defending national champions.

"I am so excited for that game," said Fields, who was UCLA"s second-leading scorer last season. "It is probably one of the games that we are all circling on our calendar. It is really going to battle test us, we are a really young team and we are rebuilding. I am very excited.

"Our coach was really battling for us. She knew we were going to have a very talented team and wanted us to play the best teams in the country. She was like 'you guys better be prepared and work hard this season because we are really going to have a tough game this year.' I kind of anticipated UConn because that is the best team right now in the entire college women's game so I was really excited about that and wanted to let everyone else know that we need to work hard because everything we do now is going to affect us when we play that game."

As for Nurse, Fields loves the fiery competitiveness she brings to the floor.

"I like her energy," Fields said. "She is an energy giver and her young spirit always brings everyone up and having her in the mix just makes everyone energetic."

Fields believes her experience with the Canadian squad will help her in so many ways when she returns to college.

"It is just like seeing the game at another perspective," Fields said. "Just playing with more older players, they read the game and getting that perspective is going to help my game so much more when  I go back to UCLA."

While time will tell how many UConn products will be part of the U.S. team playing in the World Championships, U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma knows he will have one of his former players along for the ride as Jen Rizzotti.

Rizzotti, the point guard on Auriemma's first national championship team at UCLA, will serve as an advance scout for the U.S. team.

Carol Callan, the U.S. women's national team director, is excited to have Rizzotti, who is no stranger to the folks at USA Basketball, be a part of the national team staff.

"Jen is, feisty isn't even the right word, she is energetic, passionate and the way she was as a player translates to the way she is as a coach," Callan said. "It is nice for Geno to have somebody who understands what he does. Even though Jen is at Hartford she played for him, she understands and she is somebody that the players can go to 'what do we do here?' and  she is not shy about going onto the floor and doing those things as well."

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