COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It was team day at the Under-23 women’s basketball training camp.
The 36 players were divided into four teams Tuesday that will play against each other over the next few days. A champion will be crowned on Friday. The final standings in that mini tournament will have no bearing on who makes the team that will compete in Tokyo in a few weeks.
“It just adds a little more competitiveness to camp and gives them something to play for since not all of them will be going to Tokyo to play in that tournament,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said.
The committee made sure that players from the same college team were on different squads at the camp. The four UConn players as well as Rebecca Greenwell from Duke can’t play in the Tokyo tournament because their school teams are going overseas during that same time frame. They were also put on different teams.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to play any less hard, but it definitely takes a little bit of the nervousness out of playing,” said UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson of knowing she isn’t trying out for the Tokyo team.
Here are a few other observations from the second day of the camp:
MAKING A POINT: Geno Auriemma, who is serving a lead clinician, had Baylor center Kalani Brown run a sprint before the start of practice. He then “offered” her his watch and a car if she could do the same sprint in under 10 seconds. She fell just short. Auriemma explained how players have two speeds they go at. The speed they want to play and the speed they need to play. When a “prize” was on the line Brown went faster. Auriemma said that players need to go at that speed all the time.
He then joked that he never lost a watch in all the times he’s done that exercise.
SHOOTING PROWESS: Team three, which was led by South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu and UConn’s Gabby Williams put on a shooting clinic during a morning drill. That group made shots from five spots and free throws before any team made it past three spots.
FAMILIAR FOES: It could have been awkward with a few players who transferred playing with some of their former teammates or under their previous coach. Mariya Moore left Louisville this year to head home to California to play at USC. Her former coach Jeff Walz is leading the U23 camp.
“It wasn’t awkward at all with coach,” Moore said. “I know him so well having played at Louisville for three years for him and twice in USA Basketball.”
PAYING ATTENTION: A few WNBA teams were in attendance checking out the top players in the country. It was a great opportunity to see the best of the best go against each other.
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