Johnson, Stricklen make USA WUG team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After three days of practices with 14 USA team finalists at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the official 12-member 2011 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team was announced Wednesday morning by USA Basketball and it included Tennessee Lady Vols Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen.

The U.S. squad will look to defend the USA's gold medal at the 2011 World University Games, Aug. 14-21 in Shenzhen, China, and it features talented international veterans and some of the nation's top collegians.

In addition to Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen, also named to the 2011 USA World University Games Team were Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.); Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.); Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.); Keisha Hampton (DePaul/Philadelphia, Pa.); 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.); and Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas).

"I am so excited for Glory and Shekinna," said University of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt. "When they found out they had made the team, they both sent me texts and you could feel the excitement jumping out of their words.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to put them in a leadership role and to gain some valuable experience they can share with their UT teammates. I know they will both benefit from a basketball standpoint but it is also a great educational and cultural 'once in a lifetime' experience."

The USA team will remain at the USOTC to train through Aug. 7, before traveling to Shenzhen for its final World University Games preparations.

The U.S. opens play on Aug. 14 against Brazil, will face Slovakia on Aug. 15 and caps preliminary round action against Great Britain on Aug. 16.

Quarterfinals are slated for Aug. 18, medal semifinals will be played Aug. 19 and the finals will be held Aug. 21.

"Getting the group down to 12 is one of the hardest things I've done in my lifetime, in coaching anyway," said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach.

"You have 14 people who worked very hard at it, who were very committed to it and it's not something like they weren't good enough. It's about trying to build a team with some versatility. It was very, very hard, but I'm very happy for the 12 young people who made it. They'll do a great job representing USA Basketball and ultimately that's what this is all about.

"There's a step to this. When you had 14 there were things you didn't want to get into, because they may not be here. They were all on a little bit of an edge, because they don't know if they're on the team or not. Some kids handle that differently. They play passive because they don't want to make a mistake. It's the whole idea of playing not to lose the game rather than playing to win the game.

"Now, they know they're on the team and hopefully after their initial excitement, they can relax and refocus on figuring a way to win. We know the combinations, we know the people we're going to work with now. It is a process, but I think moving from now until we leave the training center, I think we'll be focused a lot differently on preparing and practicing for the task at hand, getting ready to play and building a team."

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

Previous USA Basketball gold medalists include Diggins, Kizer, Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Stricklen, who helped the U.S. collect gold at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina; while Diggins, and Nnemkadi 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, Nnemkadi Ogwumike trained with the USA Select Team against the USA Women's National Team in April of 2010.

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