Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

USA Basketball Training: Hoops for Troops Initiative A Memorable Moment For USA Contingent

( Guru's note: Some quotes compiled from USA Basketball's daily roundup )

By Rob Knox (@knoxrob1)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. –
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team will never forget their unforgettable experience Tuesday of being visited by Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observing 4,000 midshipmen get into noon formation and march into the cafeteria for lunch, and eating lunch and chatting with the midshipmen.

Following practice and chilling with the midshipmen over lunch, Team USA held a pair of clinics in the late afternoon for local youths at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and one at the U.S. Naval in Halsey Gym Academy for children of military parents. The entire event was part of USA’s “Hoops For Troops” initiative.

“I really enjoyed (Battaglia’s) speech,” Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry said. “He talked about discipline and moreso appreciating life.

"That’s what I got from it. It’s amazing because they all love what we do and it’s like no, ‘we love what you do.’ It’s kind of like a two way street. I was really appreciative to hear what he had to say and I’m just glad to be here in this environment.”

For Bria Hartley, a special day became even more memorable.

“I had a great time at the Hoops for Troops clinic today,” Hartley said. “It was a lot of fun playing with the kids, doing the drills and having races with them – they were really fun to be around. It is always great to come back into the community and give back and do something for the kids because I didn’t always have that when I was growing up.

“Having lunch today with the midshipmen was great today. I had a great time hanging out with them. I even met a girl from New York like me. She played for the same AAU team as me. It was a really cool day and I really enjoyed it.”

Hartley is savoring the experience of the opportunity to make the 12-player roster that will compete in the World Championships later this month in Istanbul, Turkey.

She’s one of 17 players who will compete in Thursday’s inter-squad exhibition game at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware’s campus.

The WNBA Washington Mystic guard and UConn graduate just completed her rookie season in which she helped her team reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Two days after the Mystics season ended in an overtime classic against the Indiana Fever, Hartley received a nice message that lifted her spirits.

“I was excited,” Hartley said following Monday’s practice at Halsey Gym. “I missed out on the last training camp because of (an ankle) injury and I remember feeling really bummed about not making it. The fact that I was invited back was exciting for me. It’s great to play against all of these top players.”

Hartley is the second youngest player in the 24-woman pool competing for a roster spot behind her former teammate of two years Breanna Stewart.

Even though Hartley will turn 22 at the end of September, the former soccer and lacrosse standout from Long Island has plenty of experience playing at a high level.

Already, Hartley has won a gold medal last summer at the World University Games and she teamed with Skylar Diggins and Chiney Ogwumike to win the FIBA 3-on-3 World Championship. In 14 career games representing Team USA, Hartley averaged 10.9 points per game.

Playing with the fierceness of a bulldog who doesn’t back down from a challenge, Hartley’s approach to training has remained the same. She had a strong rookie season in which she enhanced her reputation as a serial ankle-breaker.

“I don’t think the mindset of competing is different, at least not for me,” Hartley said. “I like to go out on the floor and approach everything the same way. I am a fairly serious person most of the time so I just make sure I am out there paying attention to what coach Auriemma is talking about or any coach I am playing for. My role is to make sure I do what my team needs. I thought I did pretty well today.”

One of the nice things about this team is that Hartley is getting an opportunity to play with future Hall of Famer Sue Bird.

They are two of the greatest basketball players to come from Long Island and play for UConn. It’s almost like a torch passing from Bird to Hartley. Quite naturally, they have plenty of respect for each other even though they are 12 years apart.

“I remember Sue controlled the tempo and helped others get better,” Hartley said. “She’s the type of player who creates for others and herself. That’s the type of player I want to be. It’s pretty awesome to know that we’re two of the best to come from Long Island and now we’re playing here together.”

The entire USA contingent enjoyed themselves Tuesday mingling and snapping selfies with midshipmen. It was certainly a day that left a lasting impression on everybody. Auriemma, who has experienced everything there basically to do is in life to do was in awe at witnessing the noon lunch formation.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” Auriemma said. “To move 4,000 midshipmen in like that and have them all sit down and eat, it took about 10 minutes to do all that. Then when you walk into that room, I’ve never seen 4,000 people eat at one time and do it in such a fashion. It kind of leaves you staring. I can’t believe they do all that.

“From the whole ceremony, from the time they got into their formation, while they were marching in, just the whole tradition about what they do, it was great for our players to see that. To see that kind of precision that they take great pride in. I didn’t want it to end.”

NOTES: Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase can be purchased through the Bob Carpenter Center box office, by calling 302-831-2257 or online via ticketmaster.com…

Wednesday will be the final practice (9:30-11:30 a.m.) at the Naval Academy before the team starts moving up North along the East Coast that will take them to Newark (Del.) Thursday, Bristol (Ct.) Friday and Bridgeport (Ct.) on Sunday and Monday…The team will have an off day on Saturday.







- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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