USA WINS: There were some glitches. USA did commit 21 turnovers and only accounted for 16 assists, but it won 100-62 against China on Saturday. There about 7,500 fans in attendance but no official count on the box sheet. Catchings led with 19 points and five boards with five steals while Moore had 15 points off the bench. China has improved since playing in America two years ago, facing the Storm in Portland. That was the year Seattle also won its title. Cash played with three of the players in China and against them all at some point in her three years in the country, so there was a familiarity for her. The group has had 40 days of practice together compared to one for the Americans, although three USA players in Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen do play together in Minnesota, winning the WNBA title last year. “After last year’s USA trip we went back to Asia and won the Asian Championship so we can have the ticket for London,” said China national team coach Sun Fengwu through an interpreter. “These games will be great help for our team.” USA Basketball gathers again Sunday morning for a scrimmage against Japan then disperses for the WNBA season. They’ll regroup on July 14 for three more games/camps before the Games begin in London on July 27. “It was a great start for us,” Cash said. “Everyone came out with a lot of focus on what we wanted to get done and that was try to build some chemistry. I thought we achieved that. We understand we have a ways to go, but this is a great first step.”
CASHING IN: Cash had some nice moves in the third quarter to help USA go up 78-49 on China. She has eight and USA is still shooting 61.1 percent from the field. Moore added nine off the bench. Catchings leads with 19. Ma has 14 for China, which is shooting 44.2 percent from the field and given up 22 points on turnovers. It’s a young squad and I like their energy.
BREAK TIME: Love that a lot of y’all are checking in to the blog. I hope to return in a few with more updates but have to get to the daily story since we’re on deadline. It’s still halftime and the Storm is in the house, seated baseline across the court from press row. I think F Camille Little is tweeting (@CamilleLittle) so follow her for more. The team plays Los Angeles in an exhibition finale on Sunday at the Key.
HALFTIME: China sneaked in a couple of buckets before halftime, but USA is up 52-33 at the break. Catchings leads the Americans with 10 points. Ma has eight points to lead China. The visitors have given up 16 points on 14 turnovers. USA is shooting 60 percent from the field.
RUNNING GAME: USA coach Geno Auriemma must have rallied about defense after Wei was found open, because the Americans are giving up anything now. In fact, there have been so many fast break layins, the scoreboard may fitz out soon. Catchings just scored on and USA is on a 21-6 run to pull ahead 50-29 with 1:12 left in the half. The Key is chanting “Defense.”
HIGHLIGHT II: Parker cut baseline for a nice score she may have been able to dunk before the knee injury. You can tell she’s completely healthy, however. Add two buckets from Taurasi and USA is up 38-27. There’s a rhythm building in the rotations and on the court, the Americans may start to pull away now.
HIGHLIGHT: The Key was wowed by a showtime move from Ma to Wei to open the second quarter. The guard drove baseline into the American’s defense, but simply flung the ball overhead to the waiting (and open) center for an easy jumper. China down 29-23.
ONE DONE: Zengyu also has a form I wouldn’t suggest for budding hoopsters, but the three-pointer dropped in the closing seconds to continue to keep this game close. China only trails 29-21 at the end of the first quarter. Folwes leads the Americans with six while Zhao (seven), Ma (six), and Gao (six) are pacing China. The Americans are shooting 56.5 percent and China is shooting 40 percent form the field.
IT’S GOOD: Shauang doesn’t have a pretty shot, but her three-pointer seems to be finding the net. She’s got seven early points to help keep China close at 25-18 with 50.2 seconds left in the quarter.
MAILBAG: From the Twitter files, folks are wondering about attendance. KeyArena holds 17,072 but the upper deck has its normal black curtain covering the seats. A solid 7,500 are seated in the lower bowl that normal hold 9,686. WNBA president Laurel Richie and national teams from Japan and Canada are the dignitaries I’ve spotted so far. McCoughtry just scored in the lane and USA is up 21-13.
BALLIN: Wei used her 6-foot-10 stature to easily pick off an intended high-low pass from Angel McCoughtry, but Parker is using some silky passes in the paint to get scores for USA. In Russia, announcers call her “Candy” and her game is just as sweet back in America. Fowles leads USA with six to help build a 17-9 lead with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter.
NOT WNBA: Didn’t understand Force 10 Marketing’s online promo of the game all week. There was a constant push that you could now cheer for those you rooted against in the WNBA. But it’s the Americans versus China, isn’t that a given? Well, just in case you were wondering, the Key’s favorites to hate — Taurasi and Parker, are getting tons of love. Former Storm guard Swin Cash was also given a reception equal to Bird’s during player introductions.
WHERE YOU AT?: Apparently only two officials showed for the game. No reason was given for why, though. WNBA supervisor of officials, Dee Kantner is here, they should trek her out.
NO TV: Yes, it’s a total bummer this exhibition game isn’t on television. I agree with most of you who feel it’s a missed marketing opportunity not only for women’s hoops, but the WNBA since all of the players star in the league. Spoke with officials about it and the reason is because Seattle University held its graduation at KeyArena on Saturday morning. There was concern about turning the facility over in time for the exhibition.
Somewhere tucked in Elise Woodward’s home is the evidence. A photo taken over a decade ago of Olympian Katy Steding giving Woodward, then a University of Washington standout, the business. Woodward had previously broken her nose, so the shot of her in a face mask is a classic.
“She (Steding) stole the ball from me and there’s this picture of me in this face mask looking like a total idiot,” recalled Woodward, who was named Steding as a childhood hero. “I was falling on the ground. I laugh when I look at the picture because that pretty much sums up the entire game. That’s my memory of playing the Olympic team.
“I certainly don’t display it.”
It was the last time USA Basketball was in Seattle, defeating the Huskies 92-47 in 1995. And the score is only that nice because the Olympians let up a little at the end, allowing Jamie Redd to go off for 10 late points to the delight of the 5,741 at Edmundson Pavilion.
“They could have treated us as they were playing an exhibition game, which it was, but they were extremely competitive,” said Woodward, who is now an afternoon host on KJR sports radio 950 AM. “They went after us and we were glad that they did that because they were preparing to win the gold medal.”
The Americans are back, again, but only three have three-years experience on the team in Diana Taurasi, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird. The latter said the goal won’t change against China’s national team in an exhibition at KeyArena on Saturday, however.
China is without its best players in Chen Nan and Miao Lijie due to injuries, though.
USA basketball is aiming for a fifth consecutive gold medal at the London Games in July. Saturday’s game is part of a three-day training camp that’s one of four sessions the team will be together.
“We treat it as preparation,” Bird said. “It’s not an All-Star game. Really when you think about it, this game against China is one of five games before the Olympics start. That’s not a lot. We have no time to take it lightly.”
So it could be ugly, lets get you ready for the show with your starting lineups:
F Zhao Shuang
F Gao Song
C Wei Wei
G Ma Zengyu
G Yang Banban
F Tamika Catchings
F Candace Parker
C Sylvia Fowles
G Sue Bird
G Diana Taurasi
Tonight’s officials are: Fellicia Gunther and Meadow Overstreet.