Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Delle Donne makes World University Games cut

Delaware star Elena Delle Donne survived the final World University Games cut and will be part of the 12-player United States team set to compete in the international tournament Aug. 14-21 in Shenzhen, China.

The Blue Hens' 6-5 All-American will be joined by Maryland forward and Woodbridge native Lynetta Kizer, Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters, Stanford sisters Nnemkadi and Chiney Ogwumike, Tennessee's Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, USC's Jackie Gemelos, DePaul's Keisha Hampton and Baylor's Odyssey Sims.

Delle Donne has been blogging about her adventures and will continue through the tournament.

The final 12 players were selected from the 14 finalists that arrived in Colorado Springs Sunday for a training camp. Miami's Shenise Johnson, the ACC Player of the Year, and Rutgers' April Sykes were cut on Wednesday.

VCU's Courtney Hurt and Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers (King's Fork High in Suffolk) were part of the original 35-player tryout roster.

“Getting the group down to 12 is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my lifetime, in coaching anyway,” said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. “You have 14 people who worked very hard at it, who were very committed to it and it’s not something like they weren’t good enough. It’s about trying to build a team with some versatility. It was very, very hard, but I’m very happy for the 12 young people who made it. They’ll do a great job representing USA Basketball and ultimately that’s what this is all about.

“There’s a step to this. When you had 14 there were things you didn’t want to get into, because they may not be here. They were all on a little bit of an edge, because they don’t know if they’re on the team or not. Some kids handle that differently. They play passive because they don’t want to make a mistake. It’s the whole idea of playing not to lose the game rather than playing to win the game. Now, they know they’re on the team and hopefully after their initial excitement, they can relax and refocus on figuring a way to win. We know the combinations, we know the people we’re going to work with now. It is a process, but I think moving from now until we leave the training center, I think we’ll be focused a lot differently on preparing and practicing for the task at hand, getting ready to play and building a team.”

The U.S. team will leave for China on Monday and will open World University Games play on Aug. 14 against Brazil. The USA will then play Slovakia at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15 and Great Britain at 6 a.m. on Aug. 16. Quarterfinals action begins on Aug. 18, with the semifinals and finals on Aug. 19 and 21, respectively.

“This is just an experience that not many people get, so I’m just trying to take it all in,” Delle Donne said. “I’ve never been to China before; getting to go there is incredible. And then to be able to compete for a gold medal is something that is amazing and I can’t wait to do it.”

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