UConn's Nurse returns to the court
"It was good to get the kinks out," Nurse said after recording seven points and three rebounds in her first game since helping UConn win its fourth consecutive national title in April.
When Nurse returned to campus, she met with medical personnel for the regular end of the season checkup. Before long Nurse underwent an MRI which showed that Nurse was dealing with a sports hernia. Surgery soon followed forcing Nurse, who seemingly never takes a break, from being able to hit the court.
The surgery and recovery forced Nurse to miss Canada's first two phases of preparation for the upcoming Olympics. She was fully cleared less than a week ago and played in her first game on Wednesday.
"I wasn't sure when the injury happened, it happens over time," Nurse said. "I think I've been playing a lot of basketball for a long time and it has been a progression type thing. Obviously you are dealing with a lot of different things (during) the year."
Nurse came off the bench against Australia. That doesn't figure to be the case when the Olympics start next month since Nurse was Canada's leading scorer in the FIBA Americas and Pan Am Games tournaments, helping Canada to gold medals in both events.
She showed some of her offensive explosiveness in the second half when she had a steal and layup and later hit a 3-pointer.
"She is already a talented player and it is only going to help her game," said Australian Olympic and Phoenix Mercury star Penny Taylor who had a game-high 19 points in Australia's 80-67 victory. "She was a real reason why they came back at the end. With her ability to shoot the ball, she is so strong, she can drive and she is a floor leader out there so she is a really exciting player."
Even with her place as one of the unquestioned stars of a talented Canadian team, when Nurse officially received word that she was a part of the 12-member Olympic team, it left her nearly speechless.
"It is hard to put words to," Nurse said. "It was a dream come true obviously. When I was with the Cadet team, I would watch (former) Cadets play in the Olympics. I am extremely fortunate and extremely proud to (an Olympian)."
Nurse and Canada will have two more international friendlies as part of the USA Basketball Showcase including Friday's game against U.S. at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport when she will square off against her college head coach Geno Auriemma, the head coach for the U.S. national team and former teammate Breanna Stewart.
SPREADING THE WORD
In recent stories documenting UConn's interest in Australian Chantel Horvat, Taylor is credited with telling Auriemma about the talented forward.
Taylor joked "I guess, I am really proud of her so I really tell everybody about her."
Horvat has expressed an interest in playing collegiately in the U.S. and there has been mutual interest between her and UConn.
Taylor is hoping it all works out for Horvat, who has opened eyes playing in national and international U-16 and U-19 events.
"We had an Opals camp back in March and some of the younger kids were included in that so I really got to see a wide range of younger talent," Taylor said. "She was one of them. She definitely understands the game well and she is a smart girl, whatever she decides to do is really up to her."