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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Elena & Nike Give Sneaks to DE Newborns

Delawareans are quite familiar with Elena Delle Donne’s heart of gold.

But the homegrown superstar has gone a step further.

Delle Donne turned the U.S women’s basketball team’s gold medal win over Spain on Saturday into a win for babies born on that same day by gifting newborns at Christiana Hospital miniature green, fuzzy Nike Waffle 1 sneaks.

Nike and Delle Donne, Delaware’s first Summer Olympic gold medalist in 16 years, promised to donate the kicks if her team took the gold.

Families received the cute sneakers on Sunday with a note:

“It all starts now,” the note begins.

“26 years ago, it started in Wilmington for a little champ just like you. And today, Elena Delle Donne conquered the world. Maybe someday that could be you.”

“Or maybe you’ll choose to do something else. There really are no limits to your potential.”

Delle Donne, a spokesperson for Christiana Care Health System, was born at Christiana Hospital on Sept. 5, 1989.

The former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware All-American appeared in her first Olympics this summer and scored 10 points, including eight in the second half, in her team’s gold medal-winning game against Spain.

“I kept having to look at it. Is this real life?,” Delle Donne said in the postgame interview area, still clutching the best addition to her jewelry collection. “Just taking it all in, like ‘Oh my goodness. Somebody pinch me. Did this really happen?’ ”

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Delle Donne & USA in Sixth Straight Gold Medal

Via Blue Hens

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Former Blue Hens All-American Elena Delle Donne captured the University of Delaware’s first-ever Olympic gold medal Saturday afternoon as USA Women’s Basketball cruised to a 101-72 victory over Spain at Cariocas Arena.

“We are so proud of Elena and the entire USA Women’s Basketball Team on winning the Olympic Gold Medal,” exclaimed Delaware head coach Tina Martin.  “This was a lifelong dream for her personally and we are thrilled for her and her entire family!”

Delle Donne appeared in seven of the team’s eight games after taking an elbow to the eye during warm-ups prior to the August 14 game against China.  The forward finished the games by posting 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 17.0 minutes per contest.

Team USA’s Olympic winning streak now stands at 49-0, dating back to the 1992 bronze medal game, and its all-time Olympic record is 65-3. U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal.

Delle Donne, the school’s first-ever female Olympian, joins fellow Blue Hens Mike Koplove ’98 and Kestutis Marciulionis ’00 as Olympic medal winners. Koplove earned a bronze as a pitcher for USA Baseball during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China while Marciulionis collected the bronze for Lithuania Men’s Basketball during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Delaware also had a fourth Olympian in Peter Maestrales ‘01, who played for Greece Baseball during the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Read More: http://www.bluehens.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=29100&ATCLID=211136189

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Elena on Gold Medal: “Somebody pinch me”

Via Chicago Tribune

The gold medal was securely draped around her neck, but Elena Delle Donne kept fiddling with it, asking herself: Did this really happen?

“Yeah, I kept looking at it,” she said. “Is this real life? Oh, my goodness, somebody pinch me.”

It’s real, and so was the American dominance in this Olympic tournament.

All that’s left to debate, and it’s not worth the time, is whether U.S. coach Geno Auriemma was being genuine when he said after his team’s 101-72 blowout of Spain: “It wasn’t a cakewalk; it was a struggle. Because of our depth and experience, we were able to separate ourselves.”

Delle Donne helped provide the depth that resulted in 55 bench points, 32 more than the Spaniards.

The reigning MVP of the WNBA averages 34.1 minutes for the Sky, eight more than anyone else on the team. For Auriemma’s band of experienced superstars, she was a role player.

“Right from the beginning, she blended right in,” Auriemma said. “Everyone knows that Elena is one of the most talented players in the WNBA, but she had never really played internationally at this level; she’d only made one tour with (USA Basketball), to Spain.

“We talked a lot about expectation level, and we wanted to be able to trust her. Obviously you see the talent.”

The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne played 16 nearly flawless minutes Saturday, hitting all three field-goal attempts, including one off the glass after taking contact. She drew some oohs when she swatted a shot by Spain’s tall and talented Astou Nador.

Delle Donne scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and had two assists and no turnovers.

But asked for her favorite individual highlight, she replied: “A couple of those 3s Diana Taurasi was hitting. I just had to laugh and shake my head. I idolized her growing up, and to be able to play alongside her and see some of that craziness that I saw when I was a young kid falling in love with the game, that was really cool for me.”

Team USA assistant coach Doug Bruno, the head coach at DePaul, would have appreciated that line. A few minutes earlier, he had disclosed why he feels this team is so special: “For as talented as this group is, they are so selfless.”

Delle Donne, 26, had a nice hug for Bruno after the game. She walked off the floor with Maya Moore’s arm around her shoulder. While Tina Turner’s “(Simply) The Best” played in Carioca Arena 1, teammate Brittney Griner lifted her into the sky.

Told that the photo of that lift was making the rounds on social media, Delle Donne responded: “Oh, that’s sweet. This being our first Olympics, it really meant the world to us to share that moment together. Hopefully we’ll see some more.”

Said Griner: “I love playing with E. She’s amazing.”

Asked if the two would emerge as leaders over the next four years, Griner replied: “We’ll step into those roles, but there are definitely players in front of us. We just got our diapers off.”

Maybe, but the adult world beckons. Delle Donne figures she will get one day off once she returns to Chicago. Then it’s back to practice with the Sky, preparing for Friday’s home game against the Atlanta Dream.

Yes, the Dream awaits.

But the reality is even better.

“This,” she said of her gold medal, “is amazing.”

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/ct-elena-delle-donne-usa-spain-greenstein-spt-0821-20160820-column.html

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Elena Delle Donne Score Nine In USA’s Win Over Canada

Courtesy of CSN Chicago:

Elena Delle Donne bounced back in a big way Friday.

After foul trouble derailed Delle Donne’s flow in Wednesday’s win over Serbia, the reigning WNBA MVP scored nine points as USA Basketball dealt Canada their first loss in group play. Delle Donne also added six rebounds, three assists and one block in the 81-51 victory.

[RELATED: Delle Donne featured in new Nike film]

The Chicago Sky forward is now averaging 8.5 points per game for Team USA, who looks like heavy favorites to bring home the gold.

Through four games, the U.S. have an average win margin of 40.25 points. Their 30-point win over Canada was their closest contest yet.

Delle Donne and USA Basketball close out group play Sunday against China.


Original Source: http://www.csnchicago.com/olympics/elena-delle-donne-scores-nine-usas-win-over-canada

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WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart put on an alley-oop show at Team USA practice

Courtesy of ESPN: 

As the U.S. women’s basketball team makes final preparations before it faces Indiana Fever forward Natalie Achonwa and team Canada in Group B play tomorrow, Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart decided to put on a little show for those in attendance at Team USA’s practice.

USA basketball tweeted a video this afternoon of Chicago Sky shooting guard Delle Donne and Seattle Storm forward Stewart combining for a sweet alley-oop slam during team practice — serving to both showcase the players’ athleticism and dispel any rumors that WNBA players can’t play above the rim. Yes, those still exist.

Check out the slam here:


And because multiple angles of dunks are a necessity these days, here’s another look:



Also ICYMI, Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream did this last night in team USA’s 110-84 win over Serbia.



Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17274477/wnba-stars-elena-delle-donne-breanna-stewart-put-alley-oop-show-team-usa-practice

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Chance the Rapper, Jimmy Butler, Elena Delle Donne star in Nike Olympic ad

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune: 

Nike’s “Unlimited Together” is a patriotic ode to the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball teams, but the ad also has Chicago’s fingerprint on it.

South Sider Chance the Rapper performs a song to haunting piano riffs and borrowing themes from the “Star-Spangled Banner,” while the two-minute, 25-second black-and-white commercial displays images of the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and the Sky’s Elena Delle Donne joining teammates in a show of unity.

The video, part of a larger “Unlimited” campaign running during the Rio Games, also features former Sky player Sylvia Fowles and Stevenson High School alum and former Deerfield resident Tamika Catchings.

Here are Chance’s lyrics for “Unlimited Together”:

We want some heroes in our story /We need highlights for a nightlight, we need glory for a while

We want results, we want results / Hit our families, hit our folks

Bombs bursting in air 

(Sings) Oh say

(Raps) Can you see America’s face? / We share a pair of parents, we took good care of the place

We just want narrators to pick up the narrative’s pace

Put on a show for us, float for us / Make it easy, make some more for us

Save the day

We want a ‘W,’ we tired of picking different sides / I got your jersey, just a different size

We all want you to be a buzzer-beater / Find us a leader far from Silent Bobs and Cousin Skeeters

Through the perilous fight, want you to be brave / You want to see a hero? You need a teammate

(Chorus) People, people, we the people would like you to know that wherever you go, we’re right by your side

(Repeats chorus)


Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-chance-the-rapper-team-usa-nike-ad-20160810-story.html

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Rio 2016 Olympics: Strong debuts for USA Olympic rookies in women’s basketball

Courtesy of The Indian Express:

Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner have all had stretches when they have taken over games as the U.S.


It’s been an impressive start to the Rio Games for the three Olympic rookies on the U.S. women’s basketball team.

Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner have all had stretches when they have taken over games as the U.S. has won its first two contests in dominating fashion. There probably isn’t another country that could have the reigning WNBA MVP coming off the bench, but that’s the role Delle Donne has played so far. She actually enjoys it.

“We’re so deep and that’s one of our many strengths, and I kind of like” coming in off the bench, said the 6-foot-5 star, who is averaging 11.5 points. “I like being able to watch the game a little bit, kind of watch from the bench, let it come to me and get out there and provide the spark.”

While this is Delle Donne’s first major tournament experience with the U.S., Griner and Stewart played for coach Geno Auriemma in the world championship in 2014.

Griner was big at the worlds, earning all-tournament honors. She’s given the U.S. a strong presence inside as neither Senegal nor Spain attempted to score much in the paint with her in the game. The 6-8 center acknowledged it took a few minutes for her to get comfortable on the court, but once she got her feet wet, she was ready.

“Once I got about five minutes into the game, basketball just kind of takes over,” Griner said. “I don’t want to say it turns into just another game, but it turns into just basketball. You’re out there playing, you know what to do.”

Stewart may be a rookie to the Olympics, but she certainly isn’t to USA Basketball. The 21-year-old has played in the fifth most games for the U.S. of anyone on the Olympic team. She’s won five gold medals at the junior level as well as one at the world championship. She has a chance to win many more over the next decade.

“She’s a newcomer to the Olympics, but certainly not to international basketball,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “Nearly everywhere she’s played she’s won.”

Stewart scored 15 points in her Olympic debut and has made seven of her eight shots in the two games. The four-time NCAA champion leads the U.S. with 12 free throw attempts.

“They could be starting on this team, there’s no question about it,” point guard Sue Bird of Olympic rookie teammates. “Their youth and I guess their lack of international experience is the one area but that will come with time. They’re playing so well and that’s why. … When Stewie and Elena come in, they’re like top five in the WNBA in scoring. When they come in it just keeps rolling.”

Next up for the Americans is Serbia on Wednesday. The U.S. took Tuesday off after playing back-to-back days.

While there will most likely be a huge roster turnover before the next Olympics with potentially half of this team retired by 2020, the young trio is a strong foundation to build on.

“They definitely are the future of this team,” Diana Taurasi said. “They are all so unique and talented.”

Original Source: http://indianexpress.com/sports/rio-2016-olympics/strong-debuts-for-usa-olympic-rookies-in-womens-basketball-2964616/

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Elena Delle Donne, USA Cruising Early in Rio

Courtesy of CSN Chicago:

Elena Delle Donne didn’t need to log a ton of time to leave her mark on Team USA’s 103-63 rout of Spain.

The reigning WNBA MVP put up 12 points in just 16 minutes Monday, and was a key part of the team’s plus 14 rebound advantage.

Delle Donne’s strong performance was her second in as many days.

The Chicago Sky forward had 11 points, six assists and two steals in her Olympics debut, which resulted in a 121-56 thumping of Senegal.

Two convincing wins have the U.S. women looking like overwhelming favorites to bring home the gold medal. They are the only team to score over 100 points and have an average win margin of 52.5 points.

The squad returns to the floor Wednesday to battle Serbia.

Original Source: http://www.csnchicago.com/olympics/elena-delle-donne-usa-cruising-early-rio

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First-Timers Ready To Continue Legacy

HOUSTON — Breanna Stewart remembers sitting in front of her grandmother’s TV, watching Team USA win men’s and women’s basketball gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

The idea of one day becoming an Olympian herself didn’t start until a year later, when a 14-year-old Stewart joined USA Basketball’s U16 team.

“I couldn’t have pictured that (in 2008),” Stewart said Tuesday in Houston after Team USA’s final practice before leaving for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. “Getting into the (USA Basketball) system made me kind of realize one day maybe I could become an Olympian.”

Stewart joins Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne as Team USA’s three first-time Olympians hoping to help the Americans win a record sixth straight gold medal.

“I think it’s not so much pressure (to win another gold), it’s what we expect of ourselves,” Stewart said. “Playing USA Basketball at every single level, I know our goal is always a gold medal.”

The first-time trio also played on the U.S. national team’s 2015 European tour, and Griner and Stewart were members of the 2014 FIBA World Championship team that qualified for these Games with a gold medal.

In addition to their experience with USA Basketball, all three first-timers were standout college players and are in the early parts of successful WNBA careers.

“The young guys are already starting to understand that you just have to do your part,” said coach Geno Auriemma, who coached Stewart at Connecticut and led Team USA to gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “You don’t have to do anything special; just do your part and everybody else will do their part.

“Sometimes on their own teams, there’s a pressure to do everything, so the beauty of this they only have to do their part and enjoy it.”

That’s been the message since Team USA started practicing on July 23. Through four exhibitions and a week’s worth of practices, Auriemma and the veteran players have stressed focusing on the goal and enjoying the Olympic opportunity.

“They tell me to take it in,” Griner said. “Don’t let it go by real quick because it will go by quick.”

Griner was happy to be in her hometown of Houston before heading to Rio to represent her country.

“I come from a household of law enforcement and military,” she said. “My dad was a Marine, (and) I wanted to enlist and follow my dad’s footsteps. I got into basketball and went down a different road. Now I’m able to play for my country and it mean’s everything to me.”

Download the Team USA app today for breaking news, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team bios, videos and more.

Griner also wants to continue the legacy of U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams, which have won 41 straight games in Olympic competition — a streak dating to 1992 — and seven overall gold medals, including the last five.

“I don’t look at it as pressure to win gold again,” Griner said. “More I don’t want to let down the players that have set the standard, set the bar of how USA Basketball is supposed to go.

“We’re all here, we all come together to make each other better so we can go do what we need to do. We really do want the lady next to us to get better.”

Team USA is full of talent — including the past five MVPs of the WNBA Finals and the reigning league MVP in Delle Donne — and the team’s chemistry has come together during four exhibition wins.

“You look to your left and to your right and you’re playing with the best players in the world,” Stewart said. “Knowing a certain person is going to be here on defense or here on offense and where people like to get the ball — it’s been a lot of fun (building that chemistry).”

With such a strong offensive potential, Auriemma has asked his players to contribute in other ways every time they’re on the court.

“The pressure isn’t on scoring,” Delle Donne said. “We have to play great defense, and that’s something we’ve been working on every day. There are so many incredible players, each night someone new might step up and have the hot hand and we’ll ride them for as long as they’re hot.

“It’s not about who’s making the baskets. In the end it’s about getting a gold medal.”

Original Source: http://www.teamusa.org/News/2016/August/03/First-Timers-Ready-To-Continue-Legacy-Of-US-Olympic-Womens-Basketball-Team

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Meet the Basketball Star Who’s Poised to Take the Olympic Games by Storm

Via Vogue

As the U.S. team heads to Rio in pursuit of its sixth back-to-back gold, all eyes are on Elena Delle Donne.

By the time their daughter was standing two heads above her fellow kindergartners, Elena Delle Donne’s parents knew she was an unusual child, and were not terribly surprised when, aged ten, Elena joined a basketball team and led it to place third in the national championships. Recently voted Most Valuable Player of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Elena is currently poised to lead the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team to collect its sixth consecutive gold in Rio. “She is a once-in-a generation type of player,” says NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. “She’s a Steph Curry.”

In an unlikely twist for somebody with Marvel-comic physical gifts, Elena’s life has also been shaped by extreme physical disability. Her older sister, Elizabeth—or Lizzie, as everybody calls her—was born blind, deaf, and with cerebral palsy. Now 31, Lizzie can communicate only with a handful of signs, and people relate to her through touch and smell. (Elena and Lizzie’s mother, Joanie, has worn the same Chanel perfume all of Lizzie’s life so that her daughter will always know when she is near.) Lizzie has had more than 20 surgeries, most to try (unsuccessfully) to give her limited sight, as well as a successful ten-hour spinal operation at the age of eight, performed by former presidential hopeful Ben Carson.

The two sisters are extraordinarily close, often literally so. “We can’t text or Skype,” Elena says. “The only way to be with Lizzie is by physically being with her.” So while many female basketball players spend the off-season playing overseas, where salaries are lucrative, Elena divides her time between traveling with her team, the Chicago Sky, and her family’s home in the rolling green landscape of Wilmington, Delaware. She and her fiancée, Amanda Clifton, keep apartments in both Chicago and Wilmington. In order to spend as much time as possible with Lizzie, the superstar athlete works out not at a pro-athlete training complex but at the local sports center, building her core strength and running speed while her neighbors take Zumba classes and throw birthday parties for their children.

When I visit one recent morning, Elena, who has come from a hot-yoga class and lifting weights at the gym, arrives with her mother for lunch at a bustling restaurant nearby. Slightly tan, with her long blonde hair pulled back into a high ponytail, she looks as if she might have come from a run on Venice Beach rather than rural Delaware. Between bites of Cobb salad, Elena, who is six feet five and 26 years old, remembers her height being a difficult issue to manage as a child. “My mom always said, ‘It’s good. No one’s like you.’ But I wanted to be like everyone else,” she recalls. It wasn’t until junior high school, around the time University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offered her a full basketball scholarship, that she accepted that her height was an advantage.

After lunch, mother and daughter retreat to the Delle Donnes’ 35-acre, multi-home property. Elena has a few free hours to hang out with her sister before she is due back at the athletic center, to coach a session for the De11e Donne Academy (her jersey number is eleven), clinics she and Clifton—who played college basketball—run for children ages seven through eighteen. After leading 30 girls through conditioning exercises and drills, Elena poses for selfies with the star-struck students, including one who brings along an oil painting she created of her idol.

Elena’s balancing act will come to a standstill this month so she can focus on securing a victory in Rio. “There’s going to be some tough competition—particularly from Australia, France, and Canada,” she says. Though she is concerned about Zika, “it will not stop me. I have been wanting to compete in the Olympics as long as I can remember.” Elena’s parents and her older brother, Gene, will join her in Brazil, as will Clifton. Her sister can’t travel, but when Elena needs an extra jolt of energy, she will rub the tattoo on her left ribs. It says: Lizzie.

Original Source: http://www.vogue.com/13463188/elena-delle-donne-rio-summer-olympics-us-womens-basketball-team/

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