Two Lady Vols seek USA team berth

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Fourteen of the nation's top collegiate women's basketball players, including the University of Tennessee's Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, are assembling for the final cuts of the 2011 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team, July 31-Aug.7.

Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, who both celebrated their 21st birthdays this week, will hit the floor for their first practice at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Olympic Sports Center.

The finalists, who were announced May 25, include six players who have previous international USA Basketball experience, and were selected by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Sue Donohoe, NCAA vice president for Division I women's basketball.

"It was a difficult decision, because we had a lot of players who have had some USA Basketball experience trying out for the USA World University Games Team," said Donohoe at the time of the selection.

"There were a lot of great players from across the country, but the real key for the committee is to take 12 individuals, 14 individuals that we feel like can assume specific roles within a team and come together as a unit so that the team's successful and wins a gold medal."

Training camp is back at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the eventual 12-member team will look to defend the USA's 2009 gold medal at the 2011 World University Games women's basketball competition August 14-21 in Shenzhen, China.

"I thought the committee did a great job," said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. "When you have 35 extremely talented kids, as coaches we were like, ‘wow, this is a tough job,' but I thought they did a great job. It's a good balance of players.

"All of them can bring a lot to this team and we can put together a really, really good club that will give us a chance to win a gold medal."

In addition to Johnson and Stricklen, still in the hunt for one of the final 12 spots on the 2011 USA World University Games Team are: Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.); Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); Shenise Johnson (Miami/Henrietta, N.Y.); Lynetta Kizer (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.); Natalie Novosel (Notre Dame/Lexington, Ky.); Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas); Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.); Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas), and April Sykes (Rutgers/Starkville, Miss.).

Previous USA Basketball gold medalists include Diggins, Kizer, Nneka Ogwumike and Stricklen, who helped the U.S. collect gold at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina; while Diggins, Shenise Johnson and Nneka Ogwumike were members of the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team that captured the FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal in Bangkok, Thailand.

Last summer Chiney Ogwumike helped the U.S. earn its berth to the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship by aiding the USA U18 National Team to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Additionally, Nneka Ogwumike trained with the USA Select Team against the USA Women's National Team in April of 2010.

The World University Games are a multi-sport competition organized every other year by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The U.S. women's basketball team will be comprised of U.S. citizens who are currently enrolled in college and have remaining eligibility.

USA Basketball women's teams have participated in 15 prior World University Games and collected a record seven gold medals, six silvers and one bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled an 89-15 overall record.

Over the years, 12 Lady Vols, plus head coach Pat Summitt, have competed in the World University Games. As Pat Head, Summitt participated in the 1973 World U Games Moscow, Russia, on the first USA team to be included in the competition and brought home a silver medal.

Other Lady Vols named to USA World University Games Teams included: Patricia Roberts, 1977, Silver Medal; Debbie Groover and Cindy Noble, 1979, Gold medal; Lea Henry, 1981, Gold medal; Shelia Collins, Lea Henry and Mary Ostrowski, 1983, Gold Medal; Bridgette Gordon, 1987, 5th place; Dena Head, 1991, Gold medal; Peggy Evans, 1993, Bronze Medal; Latina Davis and Michelle Marciniak, 1995, Silver Medal and Kara Lawson, 2001, Gold medal.

Assisting Fennelly on the USA sideline are Suzie McConnell-Serio of Duquesne University and Terri Williams-Flournoy of Georgetown University.

In addition to Donohoe, the committee includes NCAA appointees Joanne Boyle (University of Virginia), Coquese Washington (Penn State University) and Connie Yori (University of Nebraska), as well as athlete representative Beth Cunningham (Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999 USA Pan American Games Team member).

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