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July 30, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Live from Olympic training camp: Day 3

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE COLLAR: Donovan and her staff should work with the league’s marketers. A couple of weeks ago the Team USA folks created the “Red, White, and Blue Collar” slogan that they are trying to get the players to adopt, emphasizing defense. It was made into a T-shirt by Nike and given to the players on Tuesday. Goestenkors wore it today. Basically it says “Red, White and” on the front with “Blue Collar” on the back.
THAT’S ALL: Parker made two free throws to end practice. The team is thanking the men for practicing with them this week and Donovan is complimenting the player’s energy and effort, telling them for the first time that they won’t practice on Thursday. Next up? China. But I still have more for the blog until the Games, so please continue to check back.
MEN IN THE MIX: The offense doesn’t look as crisp today as the male practice players are blocking shots and picking off passes. Baskets also aren’t falling for Team USA. Well, until Smith hit that three-pointer.
COACHES HUDDLE: Tara VanDerveer and Nell Fortner, the 1996 and 2000 Olympic coaches, respectively, are chatting with Stanford alum Jennifer Azzi on the sideline.
SWITCH: The teams have switched ends, Bird’s group is now working with Thibault on zone defense.
WORKING SETS: After running through some offensive sets without opposing players, the lineup of Bird, Pondexter, Taurasi, Thompson, and Leslie ran through the play with the men as Donovan watched at half-court. On the other end, assistant coach Mike Thibault is running through plays with the rest of the team against the men.
LOOKING FOR SCREENS: Assistant coach Gail Goestenkors stopped play and gathered the post players at half-court with Donovan, expressing their displeasure with the lack of screens.
FINAL DAY: Since Team USA leaves at 10 on Thursday morning to begin their trek to Haining, China for the Diamond Ball Tournament, they cancelled practice on Thursday. Donovan said she likes the way the sessions are going and the real gelling will happen on the court against an actual opponent. It’s scary to think of a Abby Wambauch situation happening with the women, but the tourney is going to be a good prep for the Olympics.
Media has been allowed in the facility and Olympic assistant coach Dawn Staley is working with head coach Anne Donovan in explaining a new game the team is going to play to work on getting stops. The rules are a little complicated, so I’ll save the details.
The lineups are a little different going into the second hour of practice with PG Sue Bird playing the point with Seimone Augustus, Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles, and Lisa Leslie on her “white” squad. The “red” team is Kara Lawson up top with Kara Lawson, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Tina Thompson, and Diana Taurasi.
Right now, Candace Parker (red) and Cappie Pondexter (white) are waiting to sub in.
It’s interesting to note that Staley believes Pondexter will take the least amount of time to adjust to the point guard role in international play. We talked about this on Tuesday for a story I’ working on about Bird that should run in Thursday’s paper.
“Cappie is a risk-taker,” Staley said. “She’s not afraid to mix it up, compete and make mistakes. So she’s going to learn a lot quicker because she mixes it up and tries to do a whole lot of things. You can tell her what to do and what not to do where the other ones (Bird and Lawson) are more, ‘let me be observant, let me see where I fit in.'”
In the Lawson versus Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen debate, USA Basketball president Val Ackerman said Lawson worked her way onto the team with her national team play and with Sacramento. Staley, the departing point guard the past three gold-medal runs, is happy for Lawson.
“Kara is in the same position that Sue was four years ago,” Staley said. “She’s new and has some reservations about who she’s playing with and leading. It’s natural for her to go through that and it’s my job and Sue’s job to help her through that. But she’s a great complement to our team.”



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