Tamika Raymond Fights for India


Tamika Raymond will coach the India National Team in the Asian Games
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

Tamika Raymond is currently overseas in India on behalf of the NBA and WNBA to coach the India national team for the Asian Games and to further educate and enhance the lives of basketball fans around the world. Follow her stories right here on WNBA.com.

CHENNAI is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, with an estimated population of over 9 million people. I bet you are all wondering what Tamika (Williams) Raymond and Chennai, India have in common? It is a strong, mutual dedication to help 14 young women, who love the game of basketball. Their only dream is to be respected and competitive on a global stage! That is why the team slogan is fitting�

FIGHT FOR INDIA!!!

Yes World! The WNBA/NBA has gone India crazy! The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) reached out through NBA Global to seek the interest of American coaches to coach/train their National Senior Basketball teams to prepare for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Bill Harris, newly retired head coach, from Wheaton College, took the challenge to coach the men�s team and I soon followed to coach the women. My decision to coach the women of India didn�t come easy because of all the game changing calls going on in my own life. My father, who is my heart, was hospitalized; my baby sister was eight months pregnant; and I had recently left my wonderful job at Kansas to spend more time with family. After receiving blessings from all the above, I took the job.

�Why?� is the question most asked by my fans, family, and friends. It was an easy decision to make considering more than half my life has been dedicated to changing people�s perspective on women in sports. The Indian National Women�s team has been an awesome experience and the team continues to get better every day. The young women here are so eager to learn. They are respectful, and they FIGHT to improve, no matter what I throw their way.

Over the last two weeks, we have had breakdown sessions on aggressive man/zone defensive concepts, structured offensive sets, as well as a lot of new conditioning/agility workouts. These are all new to basketball in India, but the players and coaches have been very receptive to change. We all know that growth and success starts with CHANGE!

Change has come very easy with the characters I have on my team. First, we have our center, Harjeet Kaur, who is my comic relief during practice. Harjeet seems to unknowingly bust out in Michael Jackson �Thriller� moves while showing off an on-ball screen or even while trying to do �Andrea Hudy� ladder agilities. Simply put�the girl is too, too funny! Next in line would be the momma of the team, Anitha Durai. Anitha is a teacher when she is not playing for her National team; she goes hard every drill, and helps the young players adjust to the new level of expected play.

The next 3 are the babies of the team: Kokila (a.k.a. Cokie), Sneha Rajgunu, and Pria Rajapriyadarshini. Kokila, who is the most explosive/athletic kid on the team, has been playing well lately after we had a �Coming to Jesus� about our language barrier. Can you believe she asked a country girl from Ohio to speak slower�. I LOVE IT HERE!! Sneha, who is the youngest, reminds me of the female Tim Duncan because of her great footwork. Lastly my girl, Pria Rajapriyadarshini, (Try to say that last name 10 times fast�and Coach Auriemma thought it was hard saying Swintayla!) who always has a smile on her face, even though I get on her hard in practice - resilient is the word to describe her!

The Singh Sisters from Delhi have the most tradition on the team. Every girl in their family has played on the National Team! The youngest sister, Pratima (a.k.a Nishi), actually wrote a letter asking her government for a new coach. It was a big move by such a young person, but it was heart felt and she got her wish. GO NISHI!! Her sister, Prashanti Singh, just got a phone call to appear in a movie�she is SO Bollywood Big-time! LOL!

The Scottie Pippen of the crew, Smruthi Radhakrishnam, is long and can get to the hoop with great bounce. Bharti Netaur and Pushpa are my steady players who just come to the gym to out work everyone. Raspreet Sidhu will one day run this country along with her teammate Akansha Singh. They are two of the most outspoken women on the team and they are both working on their Masters during the offseason. (PLUG: They would love to intern in the U.S. Any opportunity would be greatly appreciated! They are wonderful and if I had a company those two women would be my first hires. UNPLUG! ) Aruna Kindo is the best dancer on the team, is very laid back and just smiles the day away. The last player on the roster is a special highly skilled player with a great basketball body�Geethu Jose! She has played some in Australia but this kid is good enough to play some �BIG-TIME� basketball! We are working on her mentally coming to practice to dominate every drill, play, and workout.

That�s my team in a nutshell! All of them will be going crazy over this blog because for most it is a first to see and read about themselves on a global website like WNBA.com. I have enjoyed the opportunity given to me by Secretary General/Chairman Harish Sharma and NBA Global. The young women on this team have inspired and motivated me and have made my experience in India so fulfilling.

Life threw me a curve ball with this opportunity in Chennai; with the people surrounding me�.India will knock it out the park!!