Juanita Ward Returns To Training Camp
After a grueling two weeks that saw her travel from the open tryout to invite-only camp to finally attending training camp in 2010, Ward was the final omission from the Shock’s inaugural team in Tulsa.
“I was a little torn up about it but that’s just the thrill and me just being dedicated to playing basketball,” Ward said. “If I had no emotions I’d think something was wrong with me.”
After just missing her dream to play in the WNBA last year, Ward headed backed to Syracuse where she played her collegiate ball and continued training until she left to player overseas in Bulgaria in December 2010.
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“It was an awesome experience. I was kind of culture shocked because it was my first time going overseas by myself and playing in another country and having to understand the language,” Ward said. “It was a really good thing for me. I met a lot of people, a lot of friends and got more experience.”
In addition to experience, Ward dominated the league, averaging 24.4 points, 9.9 rebounds 2.4 assists en route to becoming both the Most Valuable and Defensive Player of the Year in Bulgaria – recognitions that the Shock coaching staff recognized.
“That was my main goal, to get more experience and get ready for the WNBA season,” Ward said. “Playing against other professional girls helped me a lot. It was such a bundle of joy to actually hear from them (Shock coaching staff) and I was so honored to be able to do the things that I do and get the feedback from them. I was extremely honored to hear from them.”
Ward, an athletic and agile wing who can play multiple positions, feels like her game matches Coach Nolan Richardson’s trapping defensive schemes that requires full-court play on both ends of the ball.
“Coach Richardson fits my style and Coach Stehlik was incredible. I’m glad I heard from them. They can relate to you at your level and that’s what you need as a basketball player – that understanding.”
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After being thankful for the Bulgaria experience, Ward heard from the Shock coaching staff on February 14th of this year and was relieved that she earned an invite to training camp that opens on May 15. By avoiding the open-tryout and invite-only camp, Ward returns to Tulsa with an extra week of rest and huge aspirations to make the team in 2011.
“I’m expecting to impress them. I’m expecting to go out there and show them what I can. I’m expecting to be myself and show them good things,” Ward said. “I’m working to improve my game and just continue to catch the eyes of the Tulsa Shock. Working on everything to improve and making sure that Coach Richardson has me in his contacts.”