Dolson Gives Her Take on the U.S. Women's National Team
Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson writes about her time with the U.S. Women's National Team this offseason and gives us the inside scoop on the team as it chases gold at the 2014 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
First off, my time with U.S. Women's National Team was a great experience. It was an honor just to be selected for training camp and then to make it past the first cut and to go with the team to France is something I am very proud of. I came in with confidence and I think that helped me throughout camp and ultimately helped me be in the final 15.
One of the biggest takeaways for me was that I was honored to be around women like Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus (among others). It truly was great to see how they carried themselves. I saw how hard they went in practice. I saw how motivated they were to do everything perfect -- even down to streching. I even saw how they handled themselves off the court. When we were not practicing and there was some down time, nobody had headphones on or was in their own world. Everybody was talking and professional. I respected that. It was a learning opportunity for myself and it's something I can use to my advantage in the future.
Now that the team is in Turkey for the FIBA World Championship, I am one of their biggest fans. Through the team's preliminary games, I was impressed how well they shared the ball. A lot of times when you get a team with so many great players -- and I've never been on a team with so much talent -- you don't always see them playing as well together as these players are. Everyone is getting involved and you can see that in the stats.
The way coach Auriemma has this team playing is similar to how we played in college when I was at UConn under him. They have basic plays and sets, and from there, he tells us to just play basketball. He wants us to play off each other and make the right reads and right passes. It creates a lot of room for creativity. The thing with this team is that it is tough to build a really cohesive system because we don't get a lot of time to practice together, as other teams do, but since we have a group of players all with strong basketball IQs, it makes everyone's job easier. I'm sure coach Auriemma would say the same thing.
Another key factor for the team is our depth. Coach Auriemma kept saying that we have more depth than anyone else in the tournament, so he wanted us to go as hard as we could for as long as we could, but the minute we got tired, we should let him know so we can bring another player in. He wants to play an up-tempo game and also make the other team play faster than they want to because no matter if it's one of the starters or someone off the bench, we're bringing in someone with great talent and athleticism. If you look at our games against China and Serbia, when we made big runs in the second half to put the games out of reach, I think this was on full display.
With the medal rounds about to begin and the team off to a great start, I am extremely happy for everyone and I wish them the best of luck!