We can only imagine how great this Team USA squad would be if their entire roster had time to practice together for a month or two before embarking upon their quest for gold at the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championships.
And yet, despite showing some significant areas of improvement, they've been able to navigate their way to a pair of comfortable outcomes against China on Saturday and Serbia yesterday.
We've been keeping up with scores for Team USA in our storystream (and have more extended thoughts on Team Canada from Aneela Syed in a dedicated storystream), but for those who missed out on the weekend's action we'll summarize things with some of the key tidbits floating around the web.
- USA Basketball summarized Team USA's win over Serbia that was much closer than the final score indicated in large part due to the play of Ana Dabovic: "The USA was a red-hot 68.4 percent (13-19 FGs) in the second period to help turn the tide, but it struggled to contain Serbia's Ana Dabovic, who had 22 points by halftime...While the USA’s 21 turnovers translated into 25 points for Serbia, it outrebounded Serbia 58-26 and held Dabovic to just two points in the second half." Read more >>>
- Along those lines, USA coach Geno Auriemma commented on the team's most glaring area for improvement thus far: "I think every game we’re trying to figure out defensively what works and what doesn’t. That’s the hardest part to teach when you’re not together for a long time, because defense takes five players playing as one, talking and communicating. So, we have to keep getting better defensively. Our offense is going to be there. We’re going to score points every night, we have too many good players. So, every day it’s about how we can get better on defense." Read more >>>
Yet another area for improvement is actually masked by the numbers, as illustrated perfectly by USA Basketball's recap of Team USA's win against China on Saturday: "The USA’s 63 rebounds set a USA Women’s World Championship team record, topping the high of 60 rebounds that was set against Lithuania in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, and its 89 shot attempts also were a record, bettering the USA’s 88 attempts against Brazil in 1994. 'I was happy that we got the win,' Griner said. 'I was happy that I remembered the plays, just getting with the team. I think we did well. There’s always room to grow, to get better. I think we can rebound a little bit better, myself going to get some more boards.""
So how could Team USA have been any better than a record-setting performance? Although the U.S. has gotten over 50% of the available offensive rebounds in each of their first two games, they allowed China to get 35% of their available offensive rebounds in Saturday's game despite the disparity in total rebounding -- that's a rather high rate for a team that was relatively overmatched and a lot of it looks like a matter of effort on rebounds outside of five feet. Read more >>>
- Mechelle Voepel of ESPN described why this team is so hard to beat despite some obvious weaknesses: "And that's what Serbia saw, too, on Sunday when it gave a great effort at knocking off the FIBA World Championship favorite United States. The "big three" from both the Mercury -- Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Candice Dupree -- and the Lynx -- Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus -- combined to be just too much for Serbia." Read more >>>
- After Team USA's win against China, Angel McCoughtry summed up how all that talent creates this team's biggest strength so far: "I think the thing about our team is our depth. We can wear teams out by the third, fourth quarters, where they won't have any legs. We can bring people off the bench that are rested and athletic, so I think that helps. " Read more >>>
- This Day Live summarized the situation with the Qatar women's basketball team walking out on the Asian Games with a quote that states why it has become such big news: "It definitely sends out a message that people of faith are not particularly welcome on a basketball court if they choose to practise their faith and observe their faith in a free way."..."To be honest that’s not a decision for FIBA to be making. FIBA shouldn’t be preventing people of particular faiths from playing basketball - it’s not something they should be influencing in that way." Read more >>>
- Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera reported an update on how former Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year Jamie Carey is doing in her new position as assistant coach at Colorado: "Once [senior Lexy Kresl] regained her health, she went to work with new assistant coach Jamie Carey, who was a great point guard in her playing career. 'She was awesome,' Kresl said. 'She's helped us a lot with being explosive, handling pressure, so many different ball-handling drills I've never even heard of. She's really pushed us and I think that it's really going to benefit our point guard positions.'" Read more >>>
- Paul Morgan, contributing to MLive.com, reported on how former WNBA star Tangela Smith found her way to an assistant coaching job at Western Michigan. As described byhead coach Shane Clipfell: "It's still surreal for Smith, who just two weeks ago was sorting out what she wanted to do. Clipfell had seen Smith while recruiting in Chicago in July, 'and I told her that someday you will get your chance to coach and the sky is the limit once you get in,' Clipfell said. 'Little did I know that literally five days later, Kristin would come to me with her thoughts and we would have an opening.'" Read more >>>
- Ken Hambleton of the Lincoln Journal Star caught up with Tulsa Shock rookie Jordan Hooper before she took off for her offseason job with Turkey's Besiktas, where she'll be starting. The feature includes interviews from Hooper's mother and college coach Connie Yori. From Hooper: "I had a couple of choices, but I wanted to do something on my own, so I turned down a team in Australia, where my college roommate and best friend, Lindsey Moore, is playing, and went with Turkey," Hooper said. "I don’t know the language and don’t know a whole lot about it other than my aunt and uncle said it is safe and beautiful." Read more >>>
- Patricia Babcock McGraw of the Daily Herald took stock of four things that the Chicago Sky have to do to improve and highlighted 3-point shooting as one thing that the team needs to add this offseason: "Better and more frequent 3-point shooting by the Sky will help make its top-tier post trio of Fowles, Breland and Delle Donne much more effective. Quigley, who led the team in 3-pointers with 41, can't do it all for the Sky from long-range. Prince must up her game, and another effective shooter needs to be signed." Read more >>>
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