Sparks at USA Basketball Training Camp

The USA Basketball Women's National Team conducted its training camp this past weekend, Oct. 4-6, in Las Vesas, NV. Candace Parker, Lindsey Harding, Nneka Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender represented the Sparks among the 27 participants that included many Olympic gold medalist and WNBA All-Stars.

Sparks center Jantel Lavender

On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
"It was fun. I had a good time. Obviously itís great competition because itís the best players in the WNBA and in college, too. Iím sore. It was a good workout. Like it said, it was fun."

What did you get out of the weekend?
"Great competition. Being able to play with great guards, people who can shoot the ball. You kick it out and nine times out of 10, itís going in the basket. Itís just fun playing with the best players, being able to do everything, having the right cutters. Itís just great basketball, and itís fun to play like that."

What was it like being coached by Geno Auriemma?
"Heís good. Heís intense in kind of a quiet way. You respect everything he says. He says it one time, and you just take it and do it. I like coaches who expect the best out of you. Thatís how you want to play for those types of coaches Ė you donít want to slack off or do anything less than the best because you know his expectations are really high. He makes everybody want to play at the highest level they can play at."

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike

How have the last two days gone for you?
"Itís great. Itís a privilege to be invited to this. Iím really excited to be able to see some of my former USA Basketball teammates, some of my LA Sparks teammates, some Stanford teammates, and even people Iíve played against. Itís always good to collaborate and work together with an amazing coach and the best players who are playing right now."

What have you been doing to make yourself standout?
"Just do what I do, mostly just try to play as hard as I can. I just try to play every possession as hard as I can. I donít want to have any regrets when I step off the court. I want to say that I gave it all I could and I learn with everything; I know that I donít do everything perfect, but I want them to know that Iím playing hard and going out there and doing whatever a team player needs to do."

After playing against Geno Auriemma in college, whatís it like now being coached by him?
"Itís great. To play under a coach who obviously coaches a team that youíve had such a serious rivalry with over the years is great. Heís very accomplished, very decorated as a coach and itís an honor to be able to play under him. He knows what heís doing and he makes us feel comfortable out there, he makes me feel comfortable out there at least, but Iím sure Iím speaking for everybody else also. I learn a lot when heís out there. He doesnít confuse anyone, which is great. Itís definitely very exciting to be able to play under him."

Sparks forward/center Candace Parker

How have the last two days been?
"Itís been good. A lot of people have showed what theyíre capable of. A lot of people have come here and surprised some people. Obviously we have a lot of new faces, a lot of young talent. Overall, these last two days have been great."

Who surprised you or stood out?
"There have been a lot of young players. Kayla McBride, sheís played extremely well. Sheís knocking down the shot. I didnít realize how strong and how much of a pro body she has already. Obviously (Breanna) Stewart has played amazing. Those are two of the young players that have really stood out."

As someone who came out and played with the USA National Team while still in college, how important is it for these college athletes to be out here and gain this kind of experience?
"I think itís great for young guys to get out, get this experience and be able to play at the highest level with the national team. Itís a lot of fun because this is what you dream of doing, ever since you were younger, itís to come out and play with the senior national team, try to get on the Olympic team and win a gold medal."

Today marks one year before the 2014 FIBA World Championship gold medal game. How important would it be for you to be playing for that 365 days from now?
"It would definitely mean a lot. Thatís one of the things I havenít done yet, havenít been able to do yet. We fell short in 2006 and then I was hurt in 2010, so Iím excited and working hard to hopefully achieve that."

For a full recap and more quotes from USA Basketball, click here.

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