U.S. women's hoops breaks camp
SEATTLE -- It was a whirlwind few days for Geno Auriemma and the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team.
Now they'll go their separate ways until reconvening July 14 to start training again for the London Games.
"It went by fast," Auriemma said. "Hopefully coming out of this weekend the players have a better expectation of what I'm looking for from them. Now we'll see how much they improve over the next two months while they are playing in the WNBA and then we'll really get started in July."
The weekend started with a 1½-hour practice on Friday night and concluded with a scrimmage against Japan on Sunday. Sandwiched in between was a 38-point rout of China in an exhibition game.
"The exciting part about it is it's the beginning," three-time Olympian Tamika Catchings said. "This is the first time this 12-player roster has been together practicing, then to play a game against a great Chinese team, and to pull away like we did, every single person on this team brought something different.
"When you look at going to the Olympics and getting to London, that's something positive. If we can continue to build off of that and continue to get better, that'll only make what we do in the end that much more memorable."
Auriemma used the weekend to try out different combinations of players. It seemed for the most part that whoever he had on the court played well.
"We had a big lineup, a small lineup, a fast lineup, we got a lot of different lineups that we can play," he said. "It was a chance to see who plays well with each other."
The only lineup that didn't see time together was the "All-UConn" lineup. Six of the players on the Olympic team played for Auriemma at Connecticut. While Tina Charles didn't play all weekend because she was rehabbing a groin injury, the other five never were on the court at the same time.
"I have it in my contract that I can only play so many UConn players at the same time," Auriemma said with a smile. "Seriously, I know pretty well what they can do and they know what to expect from me. There wasn't a conscious effort to not put them on the floor together."
The Americans had their way with Japan in the scrimmage on Sunday. They won all four quarters, giving up just four baskets in the first half. The Japanese players seemed more in awe of their American counterparts than being focused on playing basketball.
After the scrimmage, the Japanese players took photos and asked the Americans for autographs. Two even exchanged jerseys with Diana Taurasi and Catchings.
"That happens a lot," said Taurasi, who was sporting a Japan warm-up jersey.
While his players will head off to the WNBA, Auriemma will spend a little time scouting over the next few months. He'll make a quick pit stop in Dallas for an U.S. Olympic media summit. He'll head over to Turkey in late June to watch the women's tournament that will determine the final five qualifiers for the London games.
When they reconvene in July, the Americans will spend three days in Washington, D.C., before heading to Manchester, England. The U.S. will then play in a tournament in Istanbul before returning to London at the start of the Olympics, which begin July 27.
The Americans will be trying for an unprecedented fifth straight gold medal in London. The U.S. has won 33 straight Olympic games.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press