My first Seafair weekend will be remembered as sparkles and flowers. Everything I witnessed, whether it was the crowning of Miss Seafair 2013 or the FIBA U19 World Championships in Lithuania, the young women we doted with exquisite jewels, flowers, and medals. Well, the winners were.
In-coming Washington freshman Kelsey Plum was one. She was a deep reserve for the USA Basketball u19 World Championship team, but she did score a bucket in the gold-medal game against France. The Americans (9-0) defeated the French (7-2) on Sunday, 61-28. As the tournament grew, Plum could be seen getting more confident but definitely needs work on consistently hitting her shot.
Plum, a 5 foot 9 PG, averaged 5.2 points in an averaged 14.6 minutes. But Plum shot 27.3 percent from three-point range.
Under former coach Kevin McGuff, UW used the outside shot to counter its lack of size inside. First-year coach Mike Neighbors said the overall coaching philosophy will mirror McGuff, but the team obviously won’t have to rely on the outside shot with C Katie Collier able to play.
Still, everyone needs to be an offensive threat for the Huskies to be the successful team it envisions. Plum is already in the gym working on improving her game, hopefully that work and experienced gained overseas translates to her first year at Washington.
Here’s a clip of Plum in action against Japan. You’re supposed to be able to hear her talk about the gold-medal game but none of my electronic devises are allowing me to access the clip. Maybe you’ll have better luck.
What I can’t believe about the weekend, is how I forgot about Oregon State star Jamie Weisner. The Canadian finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds to help her country defeat Japan 75-64 for seventh place in the tournament. I remembered who Weisner was when the all-tournament team was named and she was selected.
With Weisner standing along side UConn F Breanna Stewart, French G Olivia Epoupa, Australia‘s bronze medal winner Stephanie Talbot and Spanish C Astou Ndour, you could get a sense of how strong the Pac-12 could be for years with her talent returning and a gold-medal-winning Plum entering a league already featuring tough players spread plenty evenly through the conference.
Weisner is entering her sophomore year. A shooting guard, it took overtime and gritty defense for UW to sweep Weisner and the Beavers last season. At the FIBA U19 World Championship tournament, Weisner averaged 17 points, shooting 54.3 percent from three-point range, to rank third in the tournament in offense.
This video is a highlight of a Weisner assist. Gonzaga in-coming freshman Emma Wolfram, a 6-5 post, also plays for the Canadians. She finished with 8.9 points and 6.7 rebounds. (GU coach Kelly Graves served as an assistant for the Americans)
At the WNBA All-Star game, Los Angeles post Candace Parker made sure legend Tina Thompson left the midsummer classic a winner. The Western Conference won 102-98 on Saturday. Thompson, a Storm F who’s capping a 17-year pro career, missed all five of her shot attempts, but was honored well at the event.
“It takes moments like that to look at someone and their body of work in their career to make you really think about what she has done and what she’s meant to the league. Wow,” Storm PG Sue Bird said of being at the game. Bird participated in Connecticut Sun F Tina Charles’ charity event in New York and supported Thompson at the game.
Bird isn’t playing this season due to knee surgery in May. She’s on level two, of sorts, in rehab, able to do impact drills on the court.
“Everything is going to be boring until I’m playing again,” Bird said of the workouts, adding she’s feeling great about her progress.