Geno Auriemma and Team USA held training camps last week ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, an early opportunity for 24 players and the coaching staff to get reacquainted with each other well ahead of next summer's competition.
“We wanted to come in and have a competitive camp for three days,” Auriemma said, via SNY.com Carl Adamec. “We got to see where the veterans are and to see if they still have it and to see where some of the younger guys are and if they fit in to the level they need to get to. I thought we did all that and accomplished a great deal.”
Not surprisingly, there are a lot of familiar faces, including rising UConn senior Breanna Stewart, just-drafted-into-the-WNBA Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and UConn grads Maya Moore, Sue Bird, Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Diana Taurasi (who didn't participate because of a wrist injury).
“The weather was great, the restaurants were great, the golf course was great, and the players were pretty good,” Auriemma, laughing. “The older guys are in-between seasons, coming off their European seasons and getting ready for what’s coming up in the WNBA. They were just here to compete a little bit.”
In addition to getting the veterans back in the swing of the upcoming international competition, it was also an opportunity for younger players to catch Auriemma's eye for the future.
“That’s the case for most of these younger guys,” Auriemma said. “Let’s say all the guys that played in the world championships last year want to come back, some tough decisions are going to have to be made on how to incorporate the new guys. There aren’t many spots available if the veterans still have the ability and they’re healthy.
“The young guys had their moments here. One day some of them were really good, on another day some of them were OK, on another day some of them struggled. The thing with the young players is they struggle with how physical everybody on the floor is and they’re not used to that. They’re used to being the best athlete or the quickest or the strongest. This was a good learning experience for them and they handled themselves great.”
In fact, two of Auriemma's current players -- Stewart and Moriah Jefferson -- will take part in the World University/Pan Am Games trials later this week.