Mainstream media coverage on women’s basketball and WNBA and how it correlates to growing the fan base

I’ve been pondering over writing this blog post and whether or not people will actually read this post. This is a topic that ever since I first became aware of women’s basketball nine years ago never seems to go away. Or have a solution. It’s one of the struggles that many great WNBA/WBB fans and passionate writers and bloggers have to face every day.

As many of us know, when it comes to sports, the four main men’s sports get all the coverage and love from both fans and media companies alike. I’m talking about the NFL (which in some parts of the United States, it’s more like a religion), the NBA (once again, in some parts of the United States and world wide, it’s also the biggest sport), the NHL (this is HUGE in Canada, and in few parts in the United States) and MLB (which is America’s favorite summer past time).

So, in turn the four main men’s sports get a huge chunk of TV money from big name media companies such as ABC, ESPN, Sportsnet and TSN(HUGE in Canada), CBS, TNT, FOXSports, etc. This leaves very little TV money to give to other sports. What gets left over goes to women and men’s tennis, NASCAR, golf, gymnastics, etc. The remaining goes to the niche sports.  Women’s college basketball and the WNBA fall into that category.

It’s not just the TV companies who pull this type of move. It’s the newspapers(although to be fair, newspapers are dying), radio, online magazines/websites, etc. They only provide in depth coverage of those four main men’s sports. They only send their major beat writers to cover those events and send their columnists to write an opinion on those games. It’s like a well oiled machine for those four main major men’s sports, not only in the US and Canada, but world wide as well.

So, what does this have to with the WNBA/women’s college basketball coverage? Well, it’s pretty obvious. If all of the TV broadcasts and media focus on just those sports, there leaves absolutely little coverage for the women’s basketball world. No major sports personality is asking questions on TV on why the WNBA does not have their official draft details out yet, even though the draft is in less than three weeks! No major columnist is talking about how the WNBA Training camp will go and which players are in good shape, etc. Because of this, the WNBA/WBB world does not have any added pressure to release their details. Nor, will they have to because no major sports person will be there to release it to the public.

This may sound like I’m being pessimistic about the coverage that there is out there, considering there are some pretty good ESPN podcasts and one good ESPN writer who covers both the WNBA/WBB which is great. There are also some very good independent websites and great podcasts out there online too. I’m not complaining about that coverage, I’m complaining about the fact the WNBA/WBB world will never have as strong as a fan base simply because the TV/media coverage is non existent compared to major sports out there.

For example, if I take my friend right now to a WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center, and the Mystics take care of the Sun easily and win in impressive fashion, my friend is impressed. Now, they want to know how they can keep track of the Mystics. I’ll tell them all my favorite Twitter handles, my favorite independent WNBA websites and some great podcasts. They say thanks, and check them out. Now, they are hooked onto the Mystics. They can’t get enough. But, now they want more. That coverage alone isn’t enough. They want to hear the Mystics on the radio. They want their favorite major sports personality to discuss the Mystics on TV. But, sadly, they won’t get it. They won’t get it on ESPN either. My friend is now upset. They’ll still check on the Mystics once in a while to see how they are doing, and tries to attend the games, but the fan level is diminished. They are now longer obsessed. And that is one way the WNBA loses their fans.

It’s a vicious cycle. This just doesn’t apply to fans either. It applies to great talented writers and bloggers who once wrote about the WNBA and women’s college basketball, but had to drop the coverage altogether because they couldn’t make a living out of it unlike their fellow writers and columnists who cover those major men’s sports. This is such a shame because the WNBA/women’s basketball world loses those talented writers who wanted to cover the WNBA athletes and stories but couldn’t due to a lack of interest (from those major media/TV companies)

The WNBA/women’s basketball executives need to stand up and demand respect for their league and better coverage. They need to figure out how to get more than just NINE games on ESPN. They need better communication from league executives down to their fans. If ESPN can not provide the coverage they need, they need to add another TV partner. Or, get creative and figure out a new way to integrate new content. They need to push the media, both TV and newspapers to give them better access. They deserve that much. It’s time. If the league continues this way, there won’t be a league at all.

I won’t lie. There are tough days to cover the WNBA/women’s basketball world. No, this is not my day job. It’s hard getting simple releases, difficult getting easy answers, etc. But, I continue writing/tweeting about the sport simply because it deserves the coverage. I’m here to continue it while I still can. I will write for those great athletes that need their stories to be told on other women’s basketball websites. My voice will still be here. But it’s a damn shame, that we have lost so many great fans/writers due to this vicious cycle.

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Women’s College Basketball Player Weekly Rankings – Week 13! Class by Class!

We are officially one month away from conference tournaments starting and a month away from the regular season coming to a close. This 2016/2017 regular season has been memorable and there’s still plenty of good action left.

Without any further ado, listed below are the top 36 seniors, the top 27 juniors, the top 18 sophomores and the top 9 freshmen for the week of Jan 30th to Feb 5th.

Note: *Before we jump into Week 13 rankings, I just thought I would clear some confusion regarding the rankings. These are weekly rankings, based on games played from the week before. These are NOT overall rankings. If a player’s team did not play that week or was injured, they will NOT be on the list that week. These player rankings were designed to see which players were consistently playing well from week to week. I am checking in and on around 52(!!!) schools each week to get a fair assessment on top players. There’s no bias in these rankings, so if your player is moved around, that just means another player had a better week against stronger competition, or was not the best player on their team during that week. I always check and give credit to players who perform well vs top 25 teams, top 10 teams, etc. I also look into the blowouts and assess the players fairly there as well. I hope this clears the confusion*

For the previous week rankings, you can find them here. If you have any questions, you can check my FAQ page here. If you have a comment or suggestion, feel free to write it in my comments section or contact me via Twitter at @whoopsblogger

SENIORS

  1. Alaina Coates – South Carolina
  2. Chantel Osahor – Washington
  3. Kelsey Plum – Washington
  4. Brionna Jones – Maryland
  5. Sydney Wiese – Oregon State
  6. Tori Jankoska – Michigan State
  7. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough – Maryland
  8. Nina Davis – Baylor
  9. Alexis Jones – Baylor
  10. Alexis Peterson – Syracuse
  11. Brianna Day – Syracuse
  12. Britney Sykes – Syracuse
  13. Makayla Epps – Kentucky
  14. Miah Spencer – NC State
  15. Kelsey Lang – Texas
  16. Karlie Samuelson – Stanford
  17. Erica McCall – Stanford
  18. Breanna Lewis – Kansas State
  19. Leticia Romero – Florida State
  20. Alexis Prince – Baylor
  21. Maddie Manning – Oklahoma
  22. Peyton Little – Oklahoma
  23. Evelyn Akahtor – Kentucky
  24. Nia Coffey – Northwestern
  25. Lindsay Allen – Notre Dame
  26. Ally Disterhoft – Iowa
  27. Taya Reimer – Michigan State
  28. Adrienne Motley – Miami
  29. Curtyce Knox – Texas A&M
  30. Brittany Brown – Florida State
  31. Brooke Schulte – DePaul
  32. Sophie Brunner – Arizona State
  33. Courtney Range – California
  34. Precious Hall – James Madison
  35. Ellen Nystrom – Colorado State
  36. Elin Gustavsson – Colorado State

JUNIORS

  1. Kelsey Mitchell – Ohio State
  2. Diamond DeShields – Tennessee
  3. Victoria Vivians – Mississippi State
  4. A’ja Wilson – South Carolina
  5. Jamie Nared – Tennessee
  6. Mercedes Russell – Tennessee
  7. Gabby Williams – Connecticut
  8. Rebecca Greenwell – Duke
  9. Lexie Brown – Duke
  10. Allisha Gray – South Carolina
  11. Brianna Turner – Notre Dame
  12. Jordin Canada – UCLA
  13. Monique Billings – UCLA
  14. Shakayla Thomas – Florida State
  15. Katelynn Flaherty – Michigan
  16. Kia Nurse – Connecticut
  17. Brooke McCarty – Texas
  18. Aerial Atkins – Texas
  19. Stephanie Mavunga – Ohio State
  20. Mariya Moore – Louisville
  21. Ciera Porter – Missouri
  22. Khaalia Hillsman – Texas A&M
  23. Kaylee Jensen – Oklahoma State
  24. Marie Gulich – Oregon State
  25. Mikayla Cowling – California
  26. Amanda Cahill – Indiana
  27. Lauren Moses – Virginia

SOPHOMORES

  1. Napheesa Collier – Connecticut
  2. Katie Lou Samuelson – Connecticut
  3. Sophie Cunningham – Missouri
  4. Kristine Anigwe – California
  5. Kennedy Leonard – Colorado
  6. Megan Gustafson – Iowa
  7. Hallie Thome – Michigan
  8. Teniya Page – Penn State
  9. Marina Mabrey – Notre Dame
  10. Arike Ogunbowale – Notre Dame
  11. Anriel Howard – Texas A&M
  12. Maria Jespersen – South Florida
  13. Allazia Blockton – Marquette
  14. Kennisha Bell – Minnesota
  15. Kalani Brown – Baylor
  16. Bridget Carleton – Iowa State
  17. Jill Barta – Gonzaga
  18. Caliya Robinson – Georgia

FRESHMEN

  1. Kysre Gondrezick – Michigan
  2. Joyner Holmes – Texas
  3. Ruthy Hebard – Oregon
  4. Destiny Slocum – Maryland
  5. Kaila Charles – Maryland
  6. Andrayah Adams – St. John’s
  7. Tori McCoy – Ohio State
  8. Leaonna Odom – Duke
  9. Kayla Overbeck – Vanderbilt

Frequently Asked Questions on the Rankings

By now, you’ve seen the college player rankings and are curious and want to know more about it, or have other questions so I compiled a list of all the questions and all of your answers are answered below.

1) What is the women’s college basketball player rankings all about exactly?

It’s a fun way to keep track of the best college players class by class to see who exactly is playing the best basketball of the season. It takes into account the best seniors, the best juniors, the best sophomores and the best freshmen. It’s similar to ESPNHoopGurlz, except it’s not for recruiting, and it’s a fun way to measure how these players could impact the WNBA in the future.

2) So, is the rankings like sort of a mock draft then?

No, it’s not a mock draft. I hardly ever do mock drafts just because drafting is difficult because every team has different needs, and a player who is better than another player may not get drafted in that higher position simply because a WNBA team doesn’t have a need for that position. These rankings are designed specifically to see who exactly is the best of the best in women’s college basketball and not to see where certain players would go to.

3) Why are you using the top 36, the top 27, the top 18, and the top 9 instead of top 10, top 20 etc?

In a WNBA draft, there are 36 spots and I wanted to put the top 36 seniors and I wanted a repetition for the rest of the classes. Therefore, I simply just used math and came up with 9×4 = 36. I divided the rest and voila! The top 36, the top 27, the top 18, and the top 9 were born!

4) This year is known as the Year of the Transfer. How come certain players are listed as juniors and not seniors, if there is a chance of them leaving next year?

It’s pure speculation as to whether or not certain players will come out and so therefore, I used their current class (redshirt juniors) to make my decision which ultimately affected a lot of great current juniors. If the player(s) make the decision to leave and announce it to the media, I will update and put them in the senior class.

5) So, are you advertising these rankings, or sponsoring, or partnering with others for these or are getting paid for these rankings?

Nope. This is all done for free. It’s for my pleasure and enjoyment. No school, no company is backing me. It’s just 100% all my hard work during my spare time. I hope you do enjoy them, as they can take a while to make and update!

6) Where can I contact you if I want you to consider another player or have questions on your rankings?

You can always leave a comment below on the rankings, and I will respond to you. Or, you can contact me via Twitter as my handle is @whoopsblogger. If you have any further queries, you can also send me a DM through my Twitter handle as mentioned above.

That’s it for all of the FAQ. I’ll add more throughout the season if more questions come up.

– Aneela

My picks on #WNBA awards – who gets what?

It is now the end of the regular season and with the playoffs set to begin soon, it’s time to hand out the awards for players who performed well during the regular season. It is never easy picking out the “right” winners, as over the years, many deserving candidates have been robbed from MVP, First Team, All Defense, etc. This was not an easy decision for me to make, and I know that the voters will hopefully get it right when the awards come out soon.

To start off, let’s start with the easiest award and without a doubt, that would be Rookie of the Year. The ROY award belongs to Breanna Stewart, who rightfully was deserving of superstar status and no other rookie came close to matching her input game in and game out. Congrats Breanna Stewart, I hope this award sets you off to a legendary career in the WNBA.

The All Rookie Team was a bit harder to decide. In a stacked class of 2016, there were more than arguably 7 or 8 rookies who all stood out at particular moments throughout the season, some peaked early (Tiffany Mitchell), some struggled shooting the ball (Aerial Powers), some blossomed later (Bria Holmes), etc. It was difficult to decide the top 5 rookies, but it was really tough to decide between certain rookies so I have them as a tie. Listed below are my top 5 picks for the 2016 ROY team

  1. F – Breanna Stewart
  2. G – Moriah Jefferson
  3. G/F – Aerial Powers
  4. C – Imani Boyette
  5. G – Tiffany Mitchell & F – Bria Holmes (tied)

Next up is the Most Improved Player Award. There were four worthy candidates to pick from which include Sugar Rodgers from the Liberty, Layshia Clarendon from the Dream, Elizabeth Williams also from the Dream and Jewell Loyd from the Storm. From this four, two are fourth year players and two are sophomores. In my opinion, Elizabeth Williams has improved the most among the four, BUT she is a second year player and don’t most rookies improve on their first year? It makes no sense to give the most improved player award to her, considering that she was going to improve after a rough first season. This is why I believe that Sugar Rodgers deserves the nod for the Most Improved Player. Without Rodgers contributions this year, the Liberty would struggle scoring without Tina Charles. She became their second leading scorer and helped the Liberty to maintain the 3rd seed and 1st overall in the Eastern Conference. She’s improved since last year, but this year she became an All Star level type of player and that is why she is my pick for the award.

The third award is the Sixth Woman of the Year award. This season, there were three worthy candidates to pick from which include Renee Montgomery from the Lynx, Allie Quigley from the Sky and Jantel Lavender from the Sparks. Renee Montgomery helped the Lynx stay ahead and become the best team in the WNBA by leading one of the best benches in the league. Allie Quigley who has previously won the award twice, continued to help the Sky regain their footing after not getting off a to a great start and Jantel Lavender was one of the key pieces in helping LA become the second best team in the WNBA this year. All three are deserving of this honor, but my pick for the Sixth Woman of the Year award belongs to Jantel Lavender. Lavender often was on the floor during crucial moments for the Sparks and was one of the reasons why LA had the record they did and they often relied on her contributions since LA struggled with bench play all season.

The fourth award is the Defensive Player of the Year award. This season, four candidates stood out. Sylvia Fowles from the Lynx, Alana Beard from the Sparks, Kiah Stokes from the Liberty and Breanna Stewart from the Storm. Alana Beard had a marvelous first half defensively before the Olympic break in which she made the Sparks the best team defensively. Her ability to make her opponent work harder and make difficult plays made LA a dangerous team both offensively as well as defensively before the Olympic break. The second half, she tailed off as did the Sparks defensively, but that doesn’t mean she still is not worthy of being a candidate. Kiah Stokes was one of the Liberty’s best interior defenders and made it difficult for any player to score inside and the Liberty often relied on key defensive possessions late in the game to win. Unfortunately, Kiah Stokes suffered a hip injury in late August, meaning that her DPOY chances took a hit and so did the Liberty’s defense late in the season. Breanna Stewart was often asked as a rookie to take on the toughest defensive assignment and she often did well although the Storm struggled in the first half of the season. The second half, the Storm picked up their play thanks in large part due to Stewart and her defense is one of the reasons why the Storm are headed back to the playoffs.  Sylvia Fowles who has previously won the DPOY award before made Minnesota the top team defensively and was one of the key pieces in making Minnesota a tough team to beat an even more harder team to beat with her defense. It was not an easy task to beat the Lynx this year when they were at their best and Fowles is one of the reason why. This is why Sylvia Fowles is my pick for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Speaking of, here is my picks for the All Defense Team *- note – All Defense is only one team, not two unlike the All – WNBA teams.

  1.  C – Sylvia Fowles
  2.  G – Alana Beard
  3.  G/F – Tanisha Wright
  4.  F/C – Breanna Stewart
  5.  F/C – Kiah Stokes

The next award is the Coach of the Year Award. This season, there were three worthy candidates. Cheryl Reeve from the Lynx, Brian Agler from the Sparks and Jenny Boucek from the Storm. Cheryl Reeve was able to guide the Lynx to an outstanding regular season with not just her All Star starting players, but was able to get major contributions from her bench which included Renee Montgomery, Natasha Howard, Jia Perkins, etc which allowed her stars to rest a little bit longer. She was able to maintain the Lynx’s focus even after her stars went to the Olympics. She helped the Lynx sustain excellence, something that is not easy to do. Jenny Boucek, earlier this year had a struggling Storm team that dealt with inconsistent play despite her stars logging heavy minutes. She was able to after the break, really focus on the Storm and finally was able to get great production from her young stars at the same time which led to the Storm making the playoffs, something that was not expected from them this season and for that she deserves credit.  Brian Agler made LA one of the top teams this year because he was able to make Nneka Oguwmike an MVP candidate which allowed Candace Parker to take the pressure off her shoulders and got solid seasons out of both Alana Beard and Essence Carson as well as moving Jantel Lavender to the bench. He was able to help LA become a great team and for that he deserves kudos. This is why Brian Agler is my pick for Coach of the Year.

The last and most important award is the MVP award. This year, there were two strong heavyweights and then there were the rest. Much has been debated on whether Tina Charles or Nneka Oguwmike should be MVP. Since there’s so much discussion regarding the MVP and who “deserves” the award, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. My pick for the 2016 Most Valuable Player Award goes to Nneka Oguwmike.

My picks for the 2016 All WNBA Team (1st and 2nd team)

  • F – Nneka Oguwmike
  • F/C – Tina Charles
  • F – Elena Delle Donne
  • F/G – Angel McCoughtry
  • F – Maya Moore

2nd Team

  • F – Breanna Stewart
  • G – Sue Bird
  • F – Candace Parker
  • G – Lindsay Whalen
  • G – Kristi Toliver

So, there you have it! All my picks for all of the upcoming awards coming out soon. It’s never easy picking these choices, but regardless of who gets it, I am excited for the winners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Coach Dan Hughes

This upcoming Sunday, the San Antonio Stars will honour coach Dan Hughes last game as he prepares for retirement. The Stars are asking for social media messages to send to them, but I couldn’t just send a twitter message, I wanted to record a special podcast type form about it. (Sorry in advance for my rumbling of my thoughts!)

 

 

Quick Thoughts on Canada vs Australia exhibition game #1

The Canadian National Women’s Team was back in action today as they faced a tough test in Australia in Delaware. They lost by a final score of 80-67 Listed below are some quick thoughts on the game (*note – No live stream was available and this is by observation through the box score)

The link to the game is right here.

  • Canada got off to a rough start early and trailed after the first quarter by a score of 29-13.
  • Canada started to get into the groove into the game in the second, third and fourth quarters and made this game very interesting.
  • Natalie Achonwa struggled a bit with foul trouble and with her foul shots, but that should get better as she integrates into the team and gets comfortable.
  • Nirra Fields sure does brings a lot of energy onto the team.
  • Penny Taylor is still an all world player. At the age of 35. Without her and Liz Cambage, Australia is sunk.
  • Canada missed a lot of free throws. Work to do for sure. Can’t miss them in the Olympics.
  • Canada had a prime opportunity to strike in this game and make a statement but alas, they’ve got major work to do if they are going to be in the group for a possible medal.
  • Attendance was listed at 4,910. Not bad, could do better though
  • Canada faces a new team (I believe France?) in Bridgeport, Conn on Friday.

Notes + Full Quotes From the Canadian National Women’s Team Announcement & Open Practice.

In case you missed it, Team Canada announced their 12 player roster which is now on their website and will head to the US pretty soon to play some exhibition games before heading to the Olympics games. Last Friday, the Canadian National Women’s Team had media availability and I got the chance to speak to some players as well as the head coach. I also have a feature on Excelle Sports which should be out tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Below, I’ve transcribed the full quotes from the players I interviewed (Lizanne Murphy, Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse, Miranda Ayim & the head coach Lisa Thomaidis) on their thoughts on Rio, on Natalie Achonwa and more.

Natalie Achonwa – Center, Canada Olympic Team

On how different these Olympics are compared to the first time they qualified (2012)

“The first time we were one of the last teams to qualify and it was last minute on Canada Day, so it was right before we were trying to get to London and so this time, qualifying this far in advance, we had time to prepare and not just even last year, and it gives you a lot more time to get mentally ready as well as physically on the court and it allows you to eliminate some distractions as well knowing what to expect in the Village and not being so awestruck by it all. It allows you to prepare for the whirlwind of the Olympics.”

On the Olympic break the WNBA scheduled this year.

“Last summer was more hectic than this summer, because I was taking unplanned breaks, leaving for the Pan Am games and for the FIBA Americas. This time, this summer, it’s a lot easier as the Olympic break is built into the WNBA schedule because the US is in it and the nice Olympic chunk is taken out of our season which is really nice because it virtually creates a divide between when I’m with the Indiana Fever and when I’m with Canada Basketball. Although I’m always training for the Olympics and I’m always training to represent my country, it allows me to mentally take off my Indiana Fever hat and really focus on the events of Canada Basketball.”

On what advice she would give to young star Kia Nurse on her first Olympic experience.

“Considering this is our second time around for most of us, I think I would tell Kia to enjoy the games, to soak in the atmosphere, but the vets will also be in her ear, reminding her to stay focused as it is easy to get distracted from all the events that occur in the Olympic village.”

Her thoughts on the media blackout from the Fever and the black lives matter movement(*note – this was before the league rescinded the fines)

“I was really proud of our league and our players union to be able to take a stand and to
be passionate about it, it’s unfortunate that the league felt that they needed to fine us
because of support of other events and the players invested in and believed in and they
weren’t backing us, so it was kind of upsetting but at the same time, I’m really proud of
the players that they took a stand and believed in and didn’t let anyone alter that.”

Lizanne Murphy – Forward, Canadian Olympic Team

Her thoughts on the Olympics

“We have a chance to do something really great here, something special, going out and doing it, but I think we can do it. I’m just excited for the games, that’s really, we’ve been preparing for this for four years, so it’s like finally here, and I can’t wait.”

Her thoughts on the chance Canada can earn a medal

So many things are out of your control. It all depends on who you face through the
quarter finals. You first have to get out of our pool which is a tough pool because we are in the same group as the US then you have to play some more playoff type games, so honestly it’s difficult for me to make a prediction but I will say that if we play well, we have a good shot.”

On team mate Natalie Achonwa’s ability to go back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team.

“Props to her. She’s such a proud Canadian and special. Nat is one of my closest friends on the team, she really loves playing for Team Canada, it’s a testament to her schedule. This is not easy to do what she does and it’s not going to be difficult to integrate her as she’s been on the team for so long (six to seven years) and she’s a very experienced player even though she’s very young.”

Her injury status update (*she was out with an ACL injury before)

“I feel good. Really good. I was ready to go before, like in May, even though it hadn’t been a full year since I went down with the injury. I’m healthy and I’m been waiting for the Olympics, so I’m excited.”

Kia Nurse – guard, Canadian Olympic Team

Thoughts on the Olympics

“It’s a whirlwind when I think about it. The fact that I’m going to be at one which is really weird to me, it’s a dream come true obviously, it’s something you aspire to do, to be there and to have this experience is amazing.”

What Geno Auriemma has said to her

“Haha, we’ve talked about it a little bit. He just told me to soak it in, take in the whole experience, enjoy it and use this summer to continue to get better basketball wise, learn new things and that’s it.”

Update on her injury status (*she had surgery a couple of weeks prior)

“I’m good to move forward now, I’m practicing, I’m moving around alot, the time line is exactly where it was supposed to be, so fortunate it all went well.”

Her thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth.

“I think it’s amazing. Obviously, the WNBA is a great high level for us to have athletes at and we’ve had a surge of Canadians going to the WNBA recently and it’s just a testament to hard she’s worked, everything she’s doing there and were so proud of her.”

Her thoughts on Canada getting a medal

“Well, were going in with the mindset of getting a medal, the colour at this point is up in the air. You obviously want the gold, but a medal at this point the medal is something were going for and I think we have the potential to go do it.”

Miranda Ayim – Forward, Canadian Olympic Team

Thoughts on the Olympics.

“We are very excited to go to the Olympics, it’s amazing how fast the time flies, these next couple of weeks are going to go by really fast leading up to the Olympics. Looking forward to it and I think were going to make a good mark. Where very focused, what were focused now is the first game against China and we just played three games against China, so were looking forward to stepping on the court and getting back to business, personally.”

Thoughts on the US exhibition tour next week(*this week)

“It’s going to be a great competition, because were playing against great teams. The top three teams in the world, and that’s how we want to sharpen our skills against so the US, France, Australia in the tournament earlier, and we played the US earlier this year as well so this will be a great tune up.”

Thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team

“Well, Natalie has been with us for years, you know, even if she’s in and out, but obviously she still has the history with us, the bond among all the team mates, it’s like a family, so when she comes back on the court, steps on the floor, it’s like she never left.”

Thoughts on Kia Nurse

“Obviously, I have no worries about it. She’s back practicing with us, so I know she’s ready to go.”

Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis

Her thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team

“Natalie’s been a part of our program for several years now, so this is nothing for her. You know, were happy to have her back, she’s had such a long season in the WNBA, it’s a grind,
playing every few days, so were just happy she’s with us now and utilizing her time as
best as we can so she can get up to speed on what we are doing.”

Natalie Achonwa’s role on Team Canada

“Nat has tremendous basketball IQ, she’s an experienced player, she can bring a lot of energy, she can really quarter back our back line for the center position and she plays a key role in our offense so we really look to her to bring a spark and energy, she could really play a number of different roles, and she’s a leader.”

Thoughts on Kia Nurse

“Kia’s a great player, were glad to have her back and we anticipate on having her be back to the player she was for us last year.”

Her success at UCONN and how that translates to the National Team

“She’s been a tremendous player for the last few years with us, so we expect the same thing from her. She’s a tremendous defensive player, who can also get it done on the offensive end and she’s one of our go to players.”

Thoughts on her team at Rio

“Just seeing how well our team will perform. Last year, we improved in key areas and I anticipate that the same thing will happen in these Olympics. We haven’t played our best yet, so it will be a fun test to see what level this team will play at in Rio”

Thoughts on a medal

“Too many uncontrollable factors. I can’t say, there’s such a great pool with so many great teams, so there’s going to be alot of competition for a medal for sure.”