Guard Kia Nurse had a solid freshman season for the Huskies and like the rest of her teammates, she'll spend the summer getting better. Unlike the rest of her teammates, however, she'll do it in her native Canada, where she plays for the national team.
In fact, she'll represent her country in the Pan-American Games next month at the FIBA Americas Championships.
“This is a chance for us to show people in Canada how much we’ve raised our level of play,” Nurse told SNY.com's Carl Adamec last week. “With the World Cup soccer in Edmonton, the Pan-American Games in Toronto, and our Olympic qualifier in Edmonton, it’s a very exciting time.”
Eight countries will play in the games -- Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the United States in Group A; Argentina, Canada, Cuba, and Venezuela in Group B -- and Nurse's UConn teammates Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson will play for Team USA.
Earlier this month, Nurse and Team Canada wrapped up a six-game trip to Spain and France.
“The trip to Europe was really good for us and it gave us some great experience,” Nurse said. “It was what we needed at this point as we get ready for the Pan-American Games. We played against some top teams, it was an opportunity to play together and bond, and we got better as a team. It was a win-win-win situation.”
The team went 4-2 and Nurse averaged 9.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. And this experience will only make her a better player once the college basketball season returns. After earning 2015 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors, Nurse met with coach Geno Auriemma about what she needs to work on over the summer.
“It’s a little different when you’re involved with the national team,” she said. “But there are things that I work on every day. I take some time for myself and I can see myself making strides.”
The Huskies will begin the season as defending champions (again) with eyes on a fourth-straight title. Nurse will have a lot to do with just how far this team goes in 2015-16.