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July 28, 2008 at 6:25 PM

Live from Olympic training camp

THANKS FELLAS: Smith made two free throws and that’s a wrap for day one of practice. The team did the LA Sparks clap thing to close and now it’s interviews. Donovan said it was a “very good practice.”
CP4: Pondexter, wearing the No. 4 jersey, is running the point now. Parker, by the way, is CP15 in international play.
SLEEP MUCH?: I don’t cover Lawson during practice often, so maybe she often has her mouth agape, but I swear the woman has yawned three times since we’ve been let in the doors. Understandable since most of the players played on Sunday and traveled to San Francisco this morning. Lawson had a regrettable game in a loss to the Storm, going 3-for-12 from the field for eight points, missing all six of her three-point attempts.
SIX PLAYER ROTATION: Parker is now on the floor with Bird, Leslie, Smith, and Taurasi. Thompson is subbing out with the posts. The others are running the same offensive set against the men at the other end of the court.
BACK TO DRILLS: Donovan is walking the team through sets now with Bird running a lineup of Smith, Thompson, Leslie, and Taurasi. Starting lineup in Bejing? Could be.
BLOCK THAT: That portion of practice is over with the “white” team running for scoring the least points. But the scrimmage ended with a bang as Fowles blocked Leslie’s shot attempt at the top of the key. Team USA will definitely need that in China.
NICE DISH: Catchings is known for her defense and shooting touch, but she’s had a couple of nice feeds to Taurasi for layins, even moving Donovan to give her props. Health is still a concern with her and Fowles, who was just popped in the eye and is wearing a black brace on her left knee. Play has stopped to tend to her. And now a male practice player replaced her. UPDATE: It was Smith that popped Fowles in the eye, prompting Taurasi to say that she should be suspended. Here’s a link to the tidbit.
THE OTHER VANDERVEER: Former Storm assistant Heidi VanDerveer, Tara’s sister, found her way to the Olympic roster. She’s going to be the video coordinator for Team USA. Heidi VanDerveer, who was doing some scouting for WNBA teams this season, is head coach at Occidental College.
SCRIMAGE TIME: The team has split into groups for four-on-four scrimmaging, not permitting dribbling once the ball crosses half-court. It’s sort of like how the game used to be played back in the day. Bird is lined up with Seimone Augustus, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Sylvia Fowles. The “white” team is Candace Parker, Katie Smith, Cappie Pondexter, and Tina Thompson while “red” is Kara Lawson, Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings, and Lisa Leslie.
Media has been allowed into Maples Pavilion to watch the final portion of Team USA’s first practice as a group. Storm PG Sue Bird is in her red No. 6 jersey and running drills against a male practice squad. Yep, the national team uses the men, too, to train.
Since Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is permitting the team to use the facility, her campers got to see the entire session. Her players are also watching along with legends Teresa Edwards and Jennifer Azzi. USA Basketball president Val Ackerman, the WNBA’s inaugural president, is also in attendance.
Team USA started with a meeting then traveled to practice. It’s a busy week, but they aren’t the only ones hustling around town. Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek is leading a basketball clinic at the EASports headquarters in Redwood on Tuesday while Minnesota guard Candice Wiggins, Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen, Washington center Taj McWilliams-Franklin, New York guard Ashley Battle, and Sacramento forward Nicole Powell will host a reading event at a Boys & Girls club in San Francisco and be at wine tasting event that evening. Some, like Powell and supposedly Houston center Michelle Snow, will also help Boucek with the clinic.
The team just concluded three-on-three drills and is shooting free throws. Olympic coach Anne Donovan, the Storm’s former coach, just huddled the group and said, “I love how you’re learning to play with each other. That’s what these next 10 days are about — not the sets, learning to play with each other.”
Bird and Diana Taurasi are shooting together, wrapping up first with the free throws.



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