Monday, August 6, 2012

U.S women basketball players stay humble and hungry for gold

By: Melissa Wells
LONDON – Teammates Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles said they are working hard to uphold the legacy U.S women’s basketball has established at the Olympics.
“We have been in the gym almost everyday,” Fowles said. “You have some days when you don’t want to get up but you have to come get it done.”
The hard work has been paying off. The women are currently 4-0 and are ready to take on China (3-1) tomorrow, Aug. 5 at 4:45 p.m.
“We just are focused and are taking it one day at a time, then we can celebrate,” she said. “That’s the beauty of us women, you know we are going to go out there and work for it.”
With four consecutive gold medals won from 1996-2008, the U.S Women’s Olympic Basketball Team has become the most successful U.S women’s team sport in history. They haven’t lost a game since 1992, and are currently on a 37-0 winning steak. Overall the women are 54-3 in Olympic play since women’s basketball was added to the Olympic slate in 1976.
This 2012 team has a lot to live up to. They also have a lot to look forward to. However, the path to success hasn’t always been the easiest.
Sylvia Fowles, a 6’6” Louisiana State University Graduate, makes her second Olympic appearance in London after leading the U.S women in rebounding, scoring and to the eventual gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fowles didn’t always want to be a basketball star, though.

Ohio University student Melissa Wells interviews U.S. women’s basketball player Sylvia Fowles after practice Saturday, Aug. 4
“I grew up with three older brothers and I always used to watch them play,” she said.
Fowles enjoyed watching, but she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her mother and sister. She wanted to run track. However, it didn’t quite work out that way.
“The summer going from seventh to eight grade I grew four inches,” she said.
She was too tall and too athletic not to try basketball.
“At school my basketball coach hounded me to play two years prior, but I refused to play,” she said.
Eighth grade was her first official year playing basketball.
“I didn’t like it at first, but it turned out pretty good for me,” she said.
She moved on to high school where she began to blossom as a basketball player.
“In high school I started to get a lot of looks from recruiters with the help from my coaches,” she said. “My mom wasn’t financially stable and I was the youngest of five, so I figured basketball was my key out.”
She played at four years at LSU before being selected 2nd overall by the Chicago Sky in the 2008 WNBA Draft.
After traveling to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, she says she feels physically and mentally prepared for the rest of the competition in London. If the team stays consistent, it will have no problem beating China and will be one step closer to its fifthgold medal.
Fowles also plays for Galatasary in the EuroLeague during WNBA off-seasons with Olympic teammate Diana Taurasi.
Now 30-years-old, Diana Taurasi led the University of Connecticut to three straight NCAA championships (2002-2004) and won National Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. She is appearing in her third Olympics.

Ohio University student Melissa Wells interviews U.S. women’s basketball player Diana Taurasi after practice on Saturday, Aug. 4.
Photo by Jillian Fellows
“We have come here really focused and not think about the past,” she said.
She also gets to share this journey with some familiar faces. Her Team USA coach, Geno Auriemma, previously coached her at UConn.
“It’s a familiarity that’s really nice,” she said.
While she likes the competition, Taurasi said respect and love for the people she plays with and against is the most important.
“Basketball is based on respecting who you play, win or lose,” she said. “I’ve played with and against a lot of the girls, so I have a lot of respect for them.”
After competing as a basketball player for most of her life, Taurasi said she still appreciates the game and can always find something to motivate her to keep her career exciting and fun.
“I have played basketball all my life and sometimes I do ask myself if I have enough drive and passion to still do it,” she said. “It only takes a little bit to get the fire going again.”

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