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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Potential scheduling conflict would be blessing for Connecticut Sun rookie

In a perfect world Connecticut Sun rookie Jamie Weisner could have a little schedule juggling to contend with.

The second-round pick in last month's WNBA Draft is putting everything she can into making Sun's roster out of training camp. Weisner is also in the player pool for the Canadian national team which could make for some tough choices later this summer considering how much time the Canadian players are asked to be involved in training camps or international friendly in preparations for August's Olympics.

If Weisner were to make the Sun roster and be at all of Canada's training camps she could miss at least 11 regular-season games. Weisner is taking a "I'll cross that bridge when I get there" approach. Weisner will make her pro debut on Wednesday when the Sun plays host to the Chicago Sky in the second game of a preseason doubleheader at Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 p.m. Atlanta and San Antonio will play at 5 p.m. On Thursday Atlanta will play Chicago at 5 p.m. followed by the San Antonio/Connecticut game.

"As for now I am focused on trying to make this team and when that begins, it is something I will have to deal with," Weisner said. "I am in the mix for the Olympic team but it is all up in the air right now. They have a pretty set team that have played in the Olympics already and played in the qualifiers last year but there are some alternates that are in the mix so nothing is really set in stone last year."

Led by UConn rising junior Kia Nurse and former Notre Dame star Natalie Achonwa, there are some young and talented players that the team is being around. There are also a trio of veterans Shona Thorburn, Kim Gaucher and Lizanne Murphy who would be in their mid to late 30s at the 2020 Olympics so even if Weisner doesn't make the 12-player roster for this year's Olympics, she could certainly be in the national-team picture in the coming years.

"It (previous experienced with Canada's national team programs) has definitely helped me a lot especially playing for different coaches, seeing their different perspectives on the game, the different schemes, offensive sets," Weisner said. "Mentally I think it has helped me grow and obviously playing against some of the best in the world summer after summer just brings a lot of confidence coming back to college."

Being a couple years older than Nurse, the two players were rarely together on various junior national teams while they were growing up but that doesn't mean she didn't have a tremendous amount of appreciation for what Nurse did over the summer in leading Canada to the gold medal at the Pan Am Games and FIBA Americas title which gave Canada a berth in this year's Olympics.

"Mostly I would just see her in the summers," Weisner said. "I did see her a couple of times in the Final Four (when her Oregon State lost to UConn in the national semifinals) but it was hi and bye, we were playing them and we weren't hanging out.

"She is a great young player with a lot of confidence. It has been exciting to see her grow throughout college and on the Canadian team. That was very exciting to see a young player like that have so much success, I think that says a lot for the future of Canada basketball."

Last summer Canada women's basketball created quite the buzz during the Pan Am Games and FIBA Americas tournament.

"It was huge especially to have one of those on home soil," Weisner said. "I think it says a lot for Canada, it really helped to build our fan base. There are a lot of people rallying around Canada and rooting for us now so it is a very exciting time for Canada basketball."

Weisner also wants very much to be a part of the youthful nucleus trying to lead the Connecticut Sun back into the playoffs after some tough years.

Weisner is joined by first-round picks Morgan Tuck, Rachel Banham and Jonquel Jones as well as third rounder Aliyyah Handford to give first-year head coach Curt Miller some offensively gifted rookies to add to a nucleus including former WNBA Rookie of the Year Chiney Ogwumike and former lottery picks Shekinna Stricklen, Kelsey Bone and Alyssa Thomas.

"It is very helpful," Weisner said. "We are all in the same boat and we have never done this before so to have people to go through that with, talk that through is very helpful also it helps the learning (curve), it does have to be taught in a way that the newcomers to grab onto it. We don't know exactly what to expect.

"The first day I started learning the offense right away and everybody is in the same boat, all the drills he wants and his style of play so it has been very helpful as a rookie to be trown into this situation and everybody is running at the same pace."

Weisner was part of a remarkable transformation of the Oregon State program. When Scott Rueck took over, he needed to hold tryouts just to have enough players to put a team on the court. Things changed when Weisner's class arrived on the scene.

When Weisner was a freshman the Beavers were 10-21 with losing streaks of five and 10 games. Oregon State won 24 games the following season, 27 when she was a junior and went 32-5 in the recently-completed season. Weisner earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors while leading the Beavers to the Final Four for the first time before losing to UConn. Not long after the season ended she found herself and OSU teammate Ruth Hamblin being selected in back to back picks in the second round.

"It was kind of like a perfect cap on our college careers," Weisner said. "We have been through it all since freshman year so to be back to back like that, see our names together was kind of like a perfect scenario."

Weisner heard from people not long after being drafted who mentioned to her how ironic it was that she was going to Connecticut after her college career was ended by a loss to the University of Connecticut.

"It is kind of ironic that I could have landed anywhere and I landed here but I don't think about it too much," Weisner said. "A lot of people have brought it up. I am just excited to be here, I have never been to Connecticut before or this far east so it will be a new learning experience basketball wise."

Here is what Canada's pre-Olympic schedule looks like:
May 21-30 Tryouts and training Saville Centre, Edmonton
June 1-9 Training & Exhibition Spain & France
June 26-July 8 Training Saville Centre, Edmonton
July 9-11 Edmonton Grads International Classic vs. Team China Saville Centre, Edmonton
July 22-26 Training Time to be announced, Toronto
July 27-31 ExhibitionTime, site (in the U.S.) to be announced
August 5-21 Olympic Games


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Moriah got whistled for a hand check foul in that photo

By the way, Jim, hope NHR does not move you away from UConn WBB to a new assignment. Rich was let go by the CT Post. John has been reassigned by the Courant.

Times are a changing. Rosemary Ragle has moved on to greener pa$ture$. Geno and CD will not be around much longer.

We all have been blessed since the 94-95 season.

8:24 AM 

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