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Auriemma Holds First National Team Practice

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    Auriemma Holds First National Team Practice
    AFP/Getty Images
    Head coach of the US team Geno Auriemma (2-R) speaks to his players during the match between the US and Senegal during the Women's FIBA World Basketball Championship 2010 in Ostrava on September 24, 2010.

    UConn basketball coach Geno Auriemma is currently in Las Vegas leading the U.S. women's national team through a three-day training camp. The team, gathering for the first time since winning the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal, have 23 players on hand in Vegas, and it will be the first step in the process of putting together a squad for the Olympics.

    Last month Auriemma sounded excited about the reunion.

    “I can’t wait to get these guys on the court in Vegas,” said Auriemma. “This is going to be the first time we’ve had this many together and healthy at a training camp, and it’ll be interesting to see how bad some of these guys want to make the Olympic team, how much they hustle, fight for rebounds, I’m really looking forward to that."

    On Tuesday, they held their first practice. Twelve players from the 2010 FIBA World Championship squad were on hand, as well as 11 newcomers, including Baylor's Brittney Griner, one of the best players in college basketball last season.

    After practice, Auriemma talked about Griner and how she might fit into the national team.

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    Auriemma also spoke about former player Diana Taurasi (interview here), as well as the logistics involved in managing 23 players on the court at the same time.

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    In related news, former Huskies player, WNBA 2010 Rookie of the Year and current US national team hopeful, Tina Charles, will receive the Role Model of the Year award from the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce on May 20. Auriemma will be on hand when Charles receives the award.

    Other UConn greats who have previously been honored include (via the Hartford Courant): NBA players Ray Allen, Caron Butler, and Emeka Okafor, former NBA player Kevin Ollie, now a UConn assistant coach, former Houston Astro Jeff Bagwell, former New York Met and Phillies first baseman Rico Brogna, former NFL players Chris Hetherington and Joe Andruzzi, former MLB player Ricky Bottalico, former LPGA Pro Suzy Whaley and former New England Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli.