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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Elena & Kevin Durant Model New USA Jerseys

With the Rio 2016 Olympics just months away, Nike unveiled some new basketball uniforms for Team USA on Thursday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant modeled the men’s threads, while the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne showed off the women’s.

Four years ago, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and KD rocked more triangular-shaped letters across their chests. They won gold in London, as did the women’s team.

Rio’s opening ceremony will take place August 5.

Source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2625672-kevin-durant-and-elena-delle-donne-model-new-team-usa-jerseys-at-nike-event

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Why The MVP Wants To Lower The Rims

Via For The Win

NEW YORK–Elena Delle Donne continues to fight for equality in her sport, recently telling New York Magazine she would like to see the media to refer to her and her WNBA counterparts as “basketball players” and not “female basketball players.”

But there is one thing the Chicago Sky forward would like to see changed to further set the WNBA apart from the NBA: A lowered rim.

“I think it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women,” she told For The Win at Nike’s Innovation Summit on Wednesday. “We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking. And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk.”

“But when look at other sports like volleyball, their net’s lower,” she continued. “Golf, their tees are closer. It goes on and on. Tennis, they play [fewer] sets. Why not lower our rim and let every single player player in the league play above the rim like the NBA can?”

At 6-foot-5, the reigning WNBA MVP is one of those players with above-the-rim abilities.

She added she hasn’t heard any reaction the idea after mentioning in a recent Players’ Tribune mailbag that would be her one rule change.

“I might even get pushback from fellow WNBA players,” she said, “but I stand by it. It would bring a whole different viewership to the game and it’d be fun. It’d be so exciting.”

From a visibility point of view, she has a point. Think about how many times Brittney Griner grabs headlines when she dunks. And Delle Donne noted none other than legendary UConn coach Geno Auriemma has long been a proponent of the idea for the college game. Here’s what he told the Hartford Courant in 2012:

“What makes fans not want to watch women’s basketball is that some of the players can’t shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down.

“How to help improve that? Lower the rim. Do you think the average fan knows that the net is lower in women’s volleyball than men’s volleyball? It’s about seven inches shorter so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net [as the men].”

Auriemma didn’t even want a drastic change — he proposed a 7.2-inch switch (in honor of the 1972 landmark law Title IX) to account for the hypothetical average difference in women’s height versus men’s. A slightly lowered rim, he added, means “fewer missed layups” and “more tip-ins.” It also would introduce plays like alley-oops.

“I have Geno on my side,” Delle Donne said on Wednesday. “And I feel like having Geno Aurriema in your back pocket is always a great thing. If the greatest coach in the world believes we should do it, then we probably should do it.”

Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/03/elena-delle-donne-wnba-rims-lower-chicago-sky-mvp

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Team USA Plans To Win 6th Straight Olympic Gold

Via Team USA

LOS ANGELES — Elena Delle Donne admitted feeling a bit out of her element at the Team USA Media Summit – at least when the element concerned was gold.

The reigning Most Valuable Player in the WNBA shared a stage Wednesday with triple Olympic gold medalists Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird and double gold medalist Candace Parker.

“I’m certainly in awe of these gold medalists,” Delle Donne said. “Last night I was introduced after them (at a media function) – which is embarrassing. You’ve got to introduce me first! These athletes are second to none, not just because of their basketball skills, but how special they are.”

Delle Donne, 26, who plays for the Chicago Sky, has never represented Team USA at a major international tournament, although she played at the World University Games and represented the U.S. on its 2015 European tour. Delle Donne said she has enjoyed being part of the Team USA selection process and getting to know the other players.

“We have to make sure we keep the USA tradition alive,” Catchings said. “Everybody who comes into our family knows what it is to compete on the highest level.”

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee is considering 25 players for the Olympic team and will whittle the list to 12 in mid-May. The final roster will be announced on July 5 after the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

“I always say I do not envy the people on that committee,” Bird said. “From the pool of 25, you could literally pull 12 from a hat and send them to the Olympics and they would have a chance to win a gold medal.”

While the depth of talent in the United States is unparalleled, Bird said that the committee isn’t looking simply for the 12 best or most-talented players, “but a group that comes together as a team and complements each other.

“What can you bring in terms of winning a gold medal that has nothing to do with basketball?” Bird added. “It’s giving 100 percent all the time and being a good teammate. Everyone can shoot, everyone can dribble, what else can you bring?”

University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who guided Team USA to the gold in 2012 in London and was at the helm for world championship gold medals in 2010 and 2014, will be the first two-time Olympic head coach for the women’s team.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games represents some significant basketball milestones: 80 years since men’s basketball joined the Olympic program, 40 years since women began playing at the Olympic Games and 20 years since the U.S. women began their record streak of five gold medals.

Team USA is 58-3 in Olympic play on the women’s side and has a 41-game winning streak dating to the bronze-medal game in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Every time we go out, everybody’s gunning for us,” said Catchings, who represented the U.S. for the first time in 1996 on the junior national team and plans to retire at the end of this season. “They all play their best game against us – you want to be the team to take the USA out.”

The last team to take out the USA was Russia in 2006 at the world championships, coincidentally in Brazil. That gave Bird and Catchings a taste of what awaits them in August if they are on the floor for Team USA in Rio.

“There were a lot of people there, and I’m sure a lot of them were Brazilians – and they were cheering against us,” said Bird. “It makes for a really exciting atmosphere.”

The U.S. women have never failed to win a medal at an Olympic Games in which they have competed. Team USA won the silver medal in the first Olympic women’s tournament in 1976, then missed the Moscow 1980 Games due to the boycott. Team USA won two straight gold medals in 1984 and 1988, then faltered to a bronze-medal finish in 1992.

Team USA returned to the gold standard at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, which took place three months after the founding of the WNBA. Both Bird and Catchings remembered the dominant U.S. team which included Teresa Edwards and Dawn Staley.

“I was 15 or 16 years old and that was right around the time when basketball was becoming super important to me,” said Bird, who is now 35. “It was a really pivotal point in our lives in terms of basketball. We were one of the first classes to choose a college knowing there was a professional life in America after it.”

Catchings, 36, whose father Harvey played in the NBA, wanted to play in the same league when she was growing up.

“When the WNBA came, that was even better than the NBA,” she said. “(I thought) ‘I have something I can do. I can play with women who are just like me and inspire me.’ I remember watching the 1996 Olympic team and knowing one day I’m going to be there.”

For her part, Delle Donne said she most vividly remembered the 2008 Olympic Games because they marked Lisa Leslie’s last appearance.

The other three players protested that they were there, too. “You didn’t see us,” Bird teased.

Now she not only sees them, she’s one of them.

Source: http://www.teamusa.org/news/2016/march/09/team-usa-womens-basketball-plans-to-win-sixth-straight-olympic-gold-in-rio

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From USA Training Camp To A Dodgeball Tournament

Elena Delle Donne spent the early part of the week at USA Basketball training camp in Storrs, Connecticut. When she returned home, she really got down to business.

And while, sure, training with the national team was probably intense, it paled in comparison to her Wednesday night. Joined by her older brother, Gene, and some other friends, the reigning WNBA MVP turned her focus to winning a title.

A dodgeball title, that is.

Before heading to the gym with her squad, she got in some last-minute practice at the house.

And then dominated the competition. Since she used the hashtag #champs, I’m just going to assume they won it all.

Sibling teamwork #champs #stickybandits @genedelledonne

A video posted by Elena Delle Donne (@de11edonne) on

Is there anything Delle Donne can’t do? I think not.

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Chicago Sky to play at UD in May

Via Delaware Online

Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky are coming to the University of Delaware for another preseason game.

Delle Donne, the former UD All-American and the 2015 WNBA most valuable player, will return May 1 when the Sky faces the New York Liberty.

Tip-off is 2 p.m. at the Carpenter Center.

It’s the third straight year the Sky has played at Delaware. This year’s game will come several months before Delle Donne is likely to represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Sky walloped the Washington Mystics 76-69 in front of 4,750 in 2014, with Delle Donne getting 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Last year’s game was played the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and attendance was 3,105 as the Sky beat the Liberty 83-55 as Delle Donne had 16 points and eight rebounds.

“Being several years removed from college and to see the continued support from fans in Delaware is absolutely unreal,” Delle Donne said in a Sky press release Tuesday. “I brag to my teammates all the time about Delaware and why it’s so special and every single time we come back, we feel loved.”

Delle Donne, a graduate of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy, sparked Delaware to a 63-6 record her final two seasons – 2011-12 and 2012-13 — including a 42-0 record against Colonial Athletic Association foes. Delaware won its first NCAA Tournament game in 2012, when she was a junior, then downed West Virginia and North Carolina at the Carpenter Center with epic comebacks in front of sellout crowds her senior year. Delaware’s season ended in a Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Delle Donne scored 3,039 career points, fifth in NCAA Division I history at the time, despite missing 22 UD games because of illness or injuries.

She was then the No. 2 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft, and has enjoyed a stellar career despite being sidetracked by a back injury and a recurrence of Lyme Disease symptoms her second season.

“Delaware has become a second home for us,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said in the statement. “The support we’ve received over the past three seasons has been unconditional. The Bob has become a familiar place for our players and an electric environment for WNBA basketball. This year, with the added excitement of Elena returning as MVP, will be very memorable.”

Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/2016/02/23/elena-delle-donne-chicago-sky-play-ud-may/80800652/

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Delle Donne on Rachel Banham’s game

Via ESPN

When you’re putting up the kind of scoring numbers that Minnesota guard Rachel Banham has been, people are going to notice. Especially when they see that Kobe Bryant has noticed.

Banham’s 60 points against Northwestern, her game-winning 3-pointer against Iowa, her 52 points against Michigan State, her 27.5 points per game, her taking over as the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer (2,921 points) — these are things not lost on the best in the women’s pro game.

Several of those players are gathered here at UConn for the USA Basketball women’s national team training camp, and they include some outstanding scorers. But perhaps no one here better understands what Banham might be feeling right now than Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne.

The WNBA’s MVP last season, Delle Donne led the league at 23.4 points per game. And she was a scoring wizard in college at Delaware too. It’s fair to say that Delle Donne rarely has had games — playing with Team USA’s huge collection of talent might be the only exception — where she didn’t have the expectation that shehad to score a lot for her team to win.

Sounds dreamy, right? Like being the actor with the best lines or the band’s lead singer. Who doesn’t want to have a near-constant green light to score? Isn’t that the most fun?

“It’s not, really,” Delle Donne said. “Honestly, you’d rather be in an offense where everybody on court with you could score the ball well and could be the top scorer that night. Because then you all have each other to rely on.

“It can be tough when you know if you’re not averaging that 25 to 30 points, your team is not going to win. And not only that, you know the defense is completely geared to guarding you.”

Delle Donne, of course, was a UConn-caliber player who decided not to attend Connecticut and instead stayed home to play for the Blue Hens. She scored 3,039 points in her college career, averaging 26.7 per game. She was drafted second overall by the Sky in 2013 and was the WNBA’s rookie of the year. In her three WNBA seasons, she has averaged 20.2 points.

The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne has a guard’s mentality in a post player’s body. She acknowledges that she has always used her size and ability to exploit mismatches to her advantage whenever possible. Banham, by contrast, is a 5-9 guard who particularly loves the 3-point shot; she has 97 treys this year.

“I’ve relied on my height many times; when in doubt, I could often elevate and shoot over people,” Delle Donne said. “So Rachel has to have a different craftiness to her game to get through double- and triple-teams. That’s what’s really impressive about her.”

Delle Donne also understands the other kind of weight that can come with being a big scorer: needing to always credit your teammates and keep them involved. Delle Donne said her Delaware teammates were empathetic because they knew she wasn’t trying to bring attention to herself, but that it was the natural byproduct of her scoring prowess.

Banham has been getting the headlines, but she has a teammate in Carlie Wagner who is averaging an impressive 19.1 points per game herself.

“There’s no way I’d be able to do what I was doing in college or now without help from teammates,” Delle Donne said. “I’m sure Rachel feels that way too.

“It takes a certain mindset to come out and stay positive, especially if you miss a few of your first shots. You have to keep that mentality that the next one is going in. I’m sure she also has great teammates that uplift her too, because that’s what I had to keep me going.”

Another of the WNBA’s top scorers, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry, is also at the USA Basketball training camp. She’s at 19.5 points per game in her seven WNBA seasons and has twice led the league in scoring average (2012, 2013). She had that role of go-to scorer in college at Louisville, as well.

“It’s funny that Elena says it’s difficult to score that much, considering she makes it look so easy,” McCoughtry said, smiling. “But I would say it is a lot of pressure. Especially when the game gets tight, and you’re thinking, ‘I have to score to help the team.’

“Not everybody can do that. But what’s that saying? To whom much is given, much is expected? That’s basically what it is. If you have that scoring ability, you have to do it. Maybe the biggest challenge is when you have to take the last shot. You miss, and you feel like you let everybody down. You want to make it so bad, but you’re not always going to be the hero.”

Delle Donne and McCoughtry both said there also has to be a level of trusting your teammates to also make big shots when they have the opportunity. It’s always a balancing act. But let’s face it, once you put up huge numbers and have the reputation as a scorer, that’s what people are going to expect to see. And it becomes what you expect of yourself.

No player in the USA Basketball camp knows Banham’s game better than her fellow Minnesota native Lindsay Whalen, who has won three titles with the Minnesota Lynx and helped lead the Gophers to the 2004 Women’s Final Four.

Whalen averaged a team-leading 20.5 points and 5.4 assists her senior season of 2003-04, with then-junior post player Janel McCarville averaging 16.1 points. Whalen, who is from Hutchinson, Minnesota, was already a Gophers legend before that Final Four run, but the first game of that 2004 tournament was particularly epic.

Whalen had missed seven games with a broken hand suffered in February, and her first game back was the NCAA tournament opener against UCLA. She scored 31. Then against top-seeded Duke in the Elite Eight, she scored 27.

Whalen has worked out with Banham and evaluated her game. She has high hopes for Banham, who has recovered from her own serious injury: a torn ACL in December 2014 that caused her to redshirt that season and return for this one.

“I was in practice with them a couple of times getting ready for this camp,” Whalen said of the Gophers. “She said it was right around the start of Big Ten season that she kind of turned the corner mentally, and body-wise too. She was stronger and was able to gain a lot of confidence.

“The most impressive to me was the game winner down one, when she faded left and made it to win. That’s big time.”

Whalen was referring to Banham’s 3-pointer that beat Iowa 78-76 on Feb. 15. The Gophers’ loss to Michigan State in Sunday’s 114-106 scorefest hurt, but Whalen has her fingers crossed that 18-9 Minnesota can still get into the NCAA tournament.

“I think mentally, Rachel is having fun,” Whalen said. “Hopefully, she’s not letting the scoring weight get to her. She seems to be enjoying it. But I know more than anything, she wants to get a few more wins to make the tournament.”

The WNBA draft is April 14 at Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the Connecticut Sun, and UConn’s Breanna Stewart is the sure No. 1 pick. But Banham has been upping her stock, and if you ask around at the training camp, people are looking forward to seeing her get a chance in the WNBA.

Delle Donne quickly became one of the WNBA’s most popular players in large part because of her scoring prowess; her career high is 45 points, set in June against Atlanta. She scored 40 in the Sky’s season-ending loss to Indiana in the playoffs last year. She is eager to see how Banham adjusts to the WNBA level.

“I think she’ll be very happy when she gets to the pros,” Delle Donne said. “She won’t have to carry as big a load as she has. But the great thing is, doing it gets you ready for the next level.”

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/14827335/elena-delle-donne-appreciates-rachel-banham-high-scoring-game

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Elena’s Mailbag

Via The Players’ Tribune

his is The Tribune Mailbag, a series in which athletes answer questions directly sent from our readers. Previous editions featured The Captain himself, and USWNT midfielder and World Cup Champion Megan Rapinoe, among others. 

Next up, we feature WNBA MVP and Vince Vaughn superfan, Elena Delle Donne. Take it away, Elena.

***

What’s the weirdest thing in your locker? – Oliver

A Sofia the First doll. My niece sent it to me as a good luck charm.

Saw you tweeting about Making a Murderer. I finally finished, and I’m obsessed. I need to talk about it with someone!!!! What’d you think????? – Michelle

I’m so on the fence after more and more evidence/information has come out. After watching it on Netflix, I thought, “No way did they prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty.” I hear a lot was left out of the Netflix series, though.

H-O-R-S-E. Elena vs. Steph. Who wins? – Vincent

I have to say me.

ELENA. I LIVE IN CHICAGO. I’M GOING ON A FIRST DATE. WHERE SHOULD I GO? – Justin

Portillos. Just kidding. Hole in the Wall. It’s out in Deerfield, but worth the short trip. Unique atmosphere, too! 

I read your free-throw percentage last season was 97%. That cannot be true. —William

I am not sure. I’d have to Google it.

Let’s get really real. Did Harry and Hermione ever secretly hook up? – Sam

After butter beer … most likely.

Best of seven: ‘96 Bulls vs. ‘16 Warriors — who you got and in how many games? (Your agent is definitely answering these questions. Answer on video or I won’t believe it’s really you.)  —Meghan

Jordan always wins. I promise this is me!

If you could change one WNBA rule — and only one — what would it be? – Lindsay

Lower the rim.

The Bachelorette: WNBA Edition. Who’s starring? – Sara

Chiney Ogwumike.

WHO YOU GOT IN THE REMATCH: Rousey or Holm? – Joseph

I don’t see Rousey losing twice. 

I’ve always been the tallest girl in class. I feel awkward in my body. Will that ever change? – Beth

Yes! Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Own it.

Who’s the best/funniest trash talker you’ve encountered on a basketball court, and what’s one thing they said that cracked you up? – Dan

I honestly haven’t had much trash talked to me. 

Gilbert Arenas. What the hell? – Emma

#ByeGilbert

Hello, how are you? It’s so typical of me to talk about myself — I’m sorry. I hope that you’re well. Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened? And it’s no secret that the both of us are running out of time. So hello from the other side (other side). I must have called a thousand times (thousand times). To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done. But when I call you never seem to be home. Hello from the outside (outside). At least I can say that I’ve tried (I’ve tried). To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart. But it don’t matter. It clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore. – Adele

We could have had it alllllll, rolling in the deep. You had my heart inside of your hand and you played it to the beat. Love you, Adele!

Help me look smart in front of my friends. Who’s an under-the-radar WNBA player that everyone will be talking about next season? – Cheryl

I’d think you would be so much cooler if you watched and could answer that on your own.  :)

Cubs or White Sox? The people have a right to know. – Jim

My dog’s name is Wrigley …

If someone says to me, “You play like a girl,” what should I tell them? – Taylor

Thanks!

Original Source: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/elena-delle-donne-sky-wnba-mailbag/

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