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New commercial perfectly answers all questions about why you should watch women play hoops

Courtesy of USA Today:
 

So last year’s WNBA finals, as we’ve written on this site, was overall a pretty phenomenal and exciting series of hoops. With the WNBA draft on Thursday night and the season only a month away, the league released a new video reminding us all about some of the craziest two minutes in basketball along with some clips that should easily answer the question about if women are tough enough to play basketball.

 

Original Source: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/04/wnba-watch-me-work-draft-elena-delle-donne-maya-moore

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1,100 spread awareness for disabilities at LOGAN Nose-On

Courtesy of WNBU

Over 1,100 people showed up to this year’s LOGAN Nose-On luncheon. LOGAN Center hosts the annual event to raise awareness for people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities.

They only expected almost 1,000 people to show up, so having over 1,100 people is great for the center.

They also received a big check for $150,000 from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which is bound to help a lot of people.

But the big takeaway was what the keynote speaker, WNBA’s Elena Delle Donne, had to say.

Delle Donne knows the feeling all too well, being the little sister to someone who is blind and deaf.

“[A girl] was looking at my sister like she was a monster,” Delle Donne said. “And that’s something that stuck with me for my entire life.”

To Delle Donne, her sister was the complete opposite of a monster.

“Growing up with Lizzie was an absolute blessing,” Delle Donne said. “She taught me so many lessons that I don’t think I would have learned without having her as my older sister, like perspective.”

And it’s been a blessing for Lizzie being given equal support from her sister, because unfortunately, it’s a common thing for people with disabilities and their families to hear they can never do something again.

“Doctors said she would never be able to hold her head up on her own,” Delle Donne said. “She’ll never be able to walk. And she’s done all those things plus more.”

That’s something not too far off from what Janet Menting was told two years ago after getting into a bad car accident.

“They actually told me they’d never see me walk or talk or move my hands,” Menting said. “I have use of one hand.”

Menting actually spent 2 months in a coma after the accident. Two years later, after persisting and fighting for what she wanted, she’s surpassing those expectations.She’s working at the front desk at LOGAN now and she’s already made some huge improvements.

“At home, I go on walks every night,” Menting said. “I get up and run. And mom can’t keep up with me! Dad and mom are like ‘Janet! Slow down!'”

Both women want to spread a message of hope.

“I encourage a lot of people that are in a wheelchair to set their mind to stuff,” Menting said. “Not just give up on one thing.”

“Special needs individuals are an absolute joy and a gift to all of us and we’ve just got to continue to get them out in the community,” Delle Donne said.

There are still plenty of people out there who are looking for support and motivation. If you’d like to help out the cause, you can donate on LOGAN’s website at http://www.logancenter.org/donate/

 

Original Source: http://www.wndu.com/content/news/1100-spread-awareness-for–disabilities-at-LOGAN-Nose-On-416753613.html

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‘Hope to see you soon’: Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne shares letter from Joe Biden

Courtesy of The Washington Post:

Former vice president Joe Biden is already looking forward to making the 90-minute train ride from his home in Delaware to see former Delaware star and 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne play for the Mystics. Biden, who made the commute between Wilmington and D.C. on a nightly basis for 36 years while serving as senator of Delaware, sent Delle Donne a letter last month after the Mystics completed a blockbuster trade for the 2016 Olympian.

Delle Donne tweeted a photo of Biden’s typed letter, which came in an envelope labeled The Vice President, on Tuesday. It reads:

 

Dear Elena,
Congratulations on your recent move to the Washington Mystics! I look forward to watching you play here in the District. Washington is a great city, but the best part is that it’s only a short train ride from our home state of Delaware.

Best of luck as you transition to a new city and new team. Congrats again.

Sincerely,

Joseph R. Biden Jr

 

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

“Hope to see you soon,” Biden wrote beneath his signature. “Proud of you — both your skill and your courage.”

Delle Donne originally committed to play college basketball at U-Conn. after a decorated high school career in Wilmington, but she transferred to Delaware before her freshman year to be closer to family. Delle Donne, who battles chronic Lyme disease, spent the first four years of her WNBA career in Chicago. It was no secret this offseason that she wanted a fresh start with a team closer to home.

Biden has followed Delle Donne’s career for years. He was in the crowd when Delle Donne and Delaware defeated North Carolina in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, and he wished her luck at the Rio Olympics, where the U.S. women won gold last August. Biden’s first chance to see Delle Donne in a Mystics uniform during the regular season is May 14 at Verizon Center.

 

Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/03/07/hope-to-see-you-soon-mystics-elena-delle-donne-shares-letter-from-joe-biden/?utm_term=.651e3eea03c4

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In Elena Delle Donne, the Washington Mystics Finally Have Their Star

Courtesy of WNBA:

September 26, 2012 was supposed to be the first day of a bright future for the Washington Mystics. After winning just five games earlier that summer, the Mystics had the best odds of getting the first pick in the loaded 2013 WNBA Draft, which featured Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins — the so-called “Three to See” — as the top prospects. And with a 93.8 percent chance of walking away with at least a top three pick, the Mystics seemed on track to obtain their first superstar since Chamique Holdsclaw left the team in 2004.

Then, live on SportsCenter, the dream immediately turned into a nightmare. As then-president Laurel J. Richie began calling out the results, the Mystics were the first team to hear their name; they would be picking fourth a few months later at the 2013 WNBA Draft. No Griner. No Delle Donne. No Diggins.

That is, until two weeks ago, when the Mystics swung one of the biggest trades in WNBA history, acquiring Delle Donne in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. “It’s taken four years to make it happen,” Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault told WNBA.com after the deal was made official. “When she came out of the draft, we were trying to make a deal with Chicago to get her then.” Finally, after a circuitous route, the Washington Mystics have their star.

As is often the case with nightmares, the 2013 WNBA Draft wasn’t quite as bad as the Mystics might have imagined. With the No. 4 overall pick, they took Tayler Hill, who had a breakout season last year, averaging over 15 points per game, and looks to be a key part of their core moving forward. They also stole Emma Meesseman late in the second round, and the Belgian forward is now one of the league’s best young bigs.

That duo, combined with Delle Donne, now gives Washington arguably the most talented young core — all of them are 27 years old or younger — in the league. With those three leading the way, the Mystics have officially embarked on the next phase of their organizational journey. “We think we’re on the right path to having an elite organization at some point,” Thibault said. “It’s taken a few years to build where we’re going, and this [adding Delle Donne] is one of the big missing pieces to it.”

In existence since 1998, the Washington Mystics have been stuck in the middle of the pack. In 19 seasons, they’ve been to the playoffs nine times, but have won just one series — back in 2002. No Mystic has ever made an All-WNBA First Team, and just three players have made an All-WNBA second team: the aforementioned Holdsclaw, who did it three times, Alana Beard and Crystal Langhorne. With a dearth of playoff success and no superstars over the past decade-plus, the Mystics have long been overlooked. But there is nothing mediocre about Delle Donne (nor building a new arena, set to open in 2018).

Adding a former MVP and perhaps the best player the franchise has ever had, however, brings a set of expectations that will be unlike anything the Mystics have ever managed.

“The hardest thing is fans’ expectations right away are that automatically things are gonna work right. It doesn’t work like that,” Thibault said. “It takes time for players to get used to each other. We’ll have some bumps along the way in all of this, but the biggest thing is they keep their eye on the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish. And the best way to do that is just get better every day — when you’re walking out of the gym, walking out better than when you walked in.”

The on-court cohesion should come sooner than later with the talented trio of Delle Donne, Meesseman and Hill joined by veteran guard Ivory Latta, newly acquired sharpshooter Kristi Toliver and returning center LaToya Sanders.

In Meesseman (1st), Delle Donne (3rd), and Toliver (4th), the Mystics now have three of the top four three-point shooters by percentage in the league last season. If you include Hill (17th) and Latta (30th), they have five of the top 30, giving Washington far and away the best outside shooting attack in the league.

But while the Mystics will be able to put five legitimate three-point threats on the floor, Thibault doesn’t want to become one-dimensional on offense, saying, “I don’t think we want to live or die with that [three-pointers].” With the versatility those players, have, that shouldn’t be too much of a worry. No matter the area of the floor, the Mystics are going to be a problem for opposing defenses.

“[Thibault] has said that we’re building a Golden State type of team, type of offense,” Toliver added. “And I wouldn’t want to play for any other style than that.”

Anchoring everything — the versatility on offense, the pressure and expectations, the new direction of the franchise — is Delle Donne, who is no stranger to those kind of things. For four years, she was the face of the Chicago Sky, helping the team to its first ever playoff apperance in her rookie season, then following that up by leading them on an improbable WNBA Finals run the next year. With Delle Donne powering the way forward — she had a usage percentage north of 25 percent in each of the last three years — the Sky went to the playoffs in all four of her seasons there.

But Thibault’s hope is the situation in Washington will be different. “They [Meesseman and company] will take some pressure off of her,” Thibault said. “A lot of times in Chicago, she was given the ball and they said, ‘Go make a play for us.’ She doesn’t have to do that every possession.”

Likewise, Delle Donne sees a bright future for her and her teammates once they get on the floor together.

“The basketball side of things is something I’m smiling the most about and am most excited about,” the 2015 MVP said. “Each time I listen to Coach Thibault speak about the team and what he thinks we can accomplish and do, it just gets me so excited to just get on court and start working with these awesome and talented teammates.”

With the arrival off Delle Donne, the Mystics have their long sought-after star, and the dynamic of the franchise has, at last, been transformed. Now, the Washington Mystics are part of the WNBA’s elite.

 

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-washington-mystics-trade-history/

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Social Stream: Elena Delle Donne Arrives In Washington

Courtesy of WNBA:

For the first time in three seasons the Washington Mystics failed to play postseason ball in 2016. But, before even stepping foot on the hardwood in 2017 the team already appears poised to make sure that drought will be short-lived.

The Mystics added 2015 WNBA MVP, three-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, Elena Delle Donne from Chicago in late January. In addition to bringing a long list of accolades, EDD is widely regarded as one of the league’s preeminent scorers and will immediately make the Mystics an offensive juggernaut.

The 27-year-old arrived in the Nation’s capital on Friday to officially be introduced as the newest Mystic. Follow her day here:

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/social-stream-elena-delle-donne-arrives-washington/

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1-on-1 with Elena Delle Donne

Courtesy of WJLA:

The Washington Mystics introduced D.C.’s newest sports superstar Friday.

Elena Delle Donne met with the media about a week after the team pulled off a block-buster deal to bring the 2015 WNBA MVP to Washington.

The acquisition immediately vaults the Mystics to challengers for the WNBA title – an achievement the franchis has yet to accomplish.

ABC7’s Scott Abraham sat down with Delle Donne for an extended interview covering her trade to Washington, her battle with Lyme disease and moving closer to her family.

Original Source: http://wjla.com/sports/content/1-on-1-with-elena-delle-donne

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Elena Delle Donne “always had her eyes on D.C.,” suggests that the WNBA should lower the rims

Courtesy of Bullets Forever:

It looks like Delle Donne wanted to be a Mystics player from Day One.

Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne gave two interviews to CSN Mid Atlantic’s Chris Miller in regard to the trade that sent her to D.C. In the video above, there are the two main takeaways from it:

  • Delle Donne said that she “always had her eyes on D.C.” since she began her professional career. In addition, Delle Donne felt like it was Christmas morning when she knew that she’d be in Monumental Red this summer.
  • She was humbled by John Wall’s and Bradley Beal’s excitement over her arrival. In fact, she said this multiple times in this video. Let’s show that Monumental-ly powerful photo once again!

 

Delle Donne was in attendance for the Wizards vs. Pacers game last night with Tayler Hill, who signed a contract extension as well.

During the game, Miller had a chance to speak with Delle Donne again during the second quarter. Once again, Delle Donne talked about being “humbled” by Wall’s and Beal’s welcome. But that’s not the biggest takeaway from it.

At the 1:10 mark, Miller asked Delle Donne what she would do if she were commissioner for a day. Her response was that the WNBA should consider lowering the rims to about 9 feet so there could be more above-the-rim play in the league.

For those of you who aren’t the biggest WNBA fans out there, Delle Donne mentioned that she got some slack over the suggestion. It stemmed from a mailbag Q&A she gave on The Players’ Tribune in February 2016. Delle Donne believes that the best way to see if lower rims work is by getting some players together, play competitively, and see how it is. And other sports, like volleyball, for example, have different net heights in the women’s vs. the men’s game. UConn and USA Basketball women’s national team head coach Geno Auriemma also agreed.

Some other players disagree, most notably, Phoenix Mercury point guard Diana Taurasi, who said,”Might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.” ESPN’s Kate Fagan, who spoke to Taurasi on that topic, also agreed that lowering the rims would not be the best thing to do in basketball. First, there’s the challenge of finding different hoops for women and girls to play on. And second, dunking isn’t the be-all, end-all of basketball skills. Fagan mentioned Warriors point guard Stephen Curry who is lauded for his perimeter playmaking skills as opposed to his dunking ability.

I’ll finish this with a question. Do you think that women’s basketball should have lower hoops? To me, I don’t think it makes sense, mostly because of the logistics and the fact that women who play right now have to adjust the way they shoot. But there are notable women’s basketball figures like Delle Donne and Auriemma who think the idea has merit. Let us know in the comments below.

Original Source: http://www.bulletsforever.com/2017/2/11/14588760/elena-delle-donne-interview-washington-dc-lower-rims-2017

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Forbes’ Under 30 list includes Patrick Kane, others with Chicago ties

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

Patrick Kane and Elena Delle Donne have been named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of innovators and entrepreneurs in the sports category, one of 20 selected by the business magazine for its annual ranking.

Forbes noted Kane’s three Stanley Cup trophies and various awards the Blackhawks winger has collected as well as endorsements deals with Bauer and Chevrolet. The magazine noted Delle Donne’s Rio gold medal and 2015 MVP title as a member of the Sky.

Other athletes with current and former Illinois connections were selected to the list, including Chris Sale, who the White Sox recently traded to Boston; former Bear and current Patriot Martellus Bennett, and Paralympic medalist and University of Illinois alum Tatyana McFadden.

 

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-forbes-under-30-list–patrick-kane-20170104-story.html

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Elena Delle Donne works to inspire seriously ill students

Courtesy of Delaware Online:

Persistent health conditions shouldn’t keep someone from achieving goals, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne told students at Wilmington Hospital’s First State School, a program for chronically ill children.

The Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware grad and Olympic gold medalist told students how suffering from Lyme disease, which can cause long-term joint, heart and central nervous system problems, didn’t keep her from pursuing her dreams. The key, she said, was to set goals and surround yourself with great people.

“There might be days that you don’t feel so hot,” Delle Donne told nearly 20 students Wednesday morning. “Tell someone. It helps to have someone there to support you and guide you. Just be honest and open with them about what you are feeling or what you may be nervous about or upset about that day.

“They can help you get through those toughest times, because we know we can’t get through them alone.”

Located in Wilmington Hospital, the First State School gives children and adolescents who would otherwise be homebound with serious chronic illnesses the chance to attend school with their peers while they receive medical treatment. The school offers kindergarten through high school education to children with diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, severe asthma, cancer and other illnesses that preclude regular school attendance.

The 31-year-old program, the first such school and one of only three in the country, is a collaborative effort by Christiana Care and the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The school has a camp that encourages students to adopt healthy lifestyles, another reason Delle Donne was there.

“Bringing Elena in today to help with some of our activities … really shows the students that they can overcome their chronic illness and work on physical activities, maybe in a modified version of what the typical student may do,” said Elizabeth Houser, the school program director. “But that there is still the ability despite their chronic illness to be able to participate in health and wellness.”

The visit touched 17-year-old Telyka Brooker-Parquet.

“I have asthma so it’s really hard for me to do any sports, and I’m really scared so I just give up,” Brooker-Parquet said. “But [Delle Donne] didn’t give up. She said anybody can do it, and I guess I can do it, too.”

Brooker-Parquet, who has been in the school for four years, suffers from chronic asthma and severe allergies that cause her to go into shock if she smells anything she’s allergic to. The teen said Delle Donne’s visit allowed her to see there are others like her, including people who have family members with disabilities.

Like Delle Donne’s sister Lizzie, who is deaf, blind and has intellectual disabilities, Brooker-Parquet said her brother is also disabled.

“This was especially important to me,” Brooker-Parquet said. “I’m a sick child that has a brother with autism, and I’m scared of almost everything, to see her and how she can do everything she wants to do … Why can’t I?”

Delle Donne, a Delaware native who serves as a Christiana Care spokeswoman, is no stranger to providing young children help. This summer, she turned the U.S womens basketball team’s gold medal win in Brazil 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, had promised to donate the kicks if her team took the gold.

 

Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2016/12/07/elena-delle-donne-visit-seriously-ill-students/95051100/

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Elena Delle Donne’s woodworking skills are almost as impressive as her game on the court

Courtesy of ESPNW:

In “some people have all the talent” news, prepare to feel really unaccomplished, thanks to Elena Delle Donne’s latest Instagram post.

The 2015 WNBA MVP and Olympic gold medalist is, you know, pretty good at the whole basketball thing, but she’s also really good at woodworking. Like, really good. This likely comes as no surprise for anyone who follows her (or her burgeoning business) on social media, but if you aren’t aware of her skills, please cast your eyes on the picture of her most recent table tops below.

elena-woodwork

WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD AT EVERYTHING, ELENA?

 

Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/the-buzz/article/17832823/elena-delle-donne-woodworking-skills-almost-impressive-game-court

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Nike welcomes Elena Delle Donne home from Rio

Courtesy of ESPN:

She’s a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (girl has more than 300 pairs of kicks in her closet), and has wornNike gear for as long as she can remember. Elena Delle Donne and her teammates proudly sported the iconic Swoosh logo across their chests from practice to the podium during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It’s only right that the sportswear and lifestyle brand would host a homecoming event for the gold medalist.

“I’m so honored to be here,” said the Chicago Sky starter and 2015 WNBA MVP. “Nike is like family to me. I’ve been obsessed with the brand since I was old enough to understand what Nike was. I remember feeling like a new person whenever I’d get a new pair of their sneakers.”

The homecoming kicked off on Thursday night at the Michigan Avenue store’s week-long styling series, a promotion that gives shoppers a closer look at its “tech pack” fall collection through one-on-one sessions with some of Chicago’s most notable fashion stylists and wardrobe consultants.

Delle Donne is particularly thrilled about the collection. At 6-foot-5, she admits that finding pieces to fit her stature can be difficult, but this line seems to do the trick. “If you’re tall like me, you’re going to love [the collection]. The arm lengths are great and the pieces just move with you. The [Sportswear Tech Fleece] is probably my favorite.”

She also joked that she’ll have to keep her new favorite top away from her mother, who’s known to raid her closet. “My mom steals all my stuff. So, I’m going to have to hide this from her.”

At the event, which was hosted by Val Warner — a co-anchor for ABC Chicago’s morning show “Windy City Live” — and moderated by fashion stylist BeBe Jones of styling firm Row A Seat 1, experts shared their tips for mastering the season’s most swoon-worthy athleisure trends. Of course, Delle Donne had her own styling secrets to add: “If my jeans don’t fit perfectly, I’ll just roll them up and make them capris. Or, I’ll wear really tall boots so that no one knows that my jeans are really up to here,” she told Warner, as she pointed to her kneecaps. “I make it work.”

Though she jokes about her height, Delle Donne admitted that she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I absolutely love being tall. It makes me unique.”

The recently engaged 26-year-old shared that she and fiancée Amanda Clifton have set a soft date for their upcoming nuptials — which is tentatively slated for November 2017. As for her styling plans for the big day, you can expect to see the athlete in a wedding gown. “Maybe Nike can make you a dress,” Clifton added. “That’s a good idea!” replied Delle Donne.

As for her greatest accessory of all, the basketball star’s Olympic gold medal is displayed on her mantle. “Being in Rio was an absolute dream come true. Getting that medal put around my neck was by far the greatest moment of the whole trip. They’re sending us this awesome wooden case, so I’m going to keep it on display.” She added that getting to catch events that she’d watched since she was a child like swimming and beach volleyball was “pretty special.”

Friday , Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky will play the visiting Seattle Storm. Before the game, Delle Donne likely went through her regular series of game-day rituals: a big breakfast in the morning, a small lunch, and then a half of a bagel with peanut butter right before she gets on the court. She’ll also jam to a playlist that Clifton has created for her, which includes “Closer” by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.

“I also have gum that I have to chew [before my games]. I’m superstitious about it. I chew a piece during warm-ups and then a new piece for the game. If we’re not playing well, at halftime I switch the piece because it’s clearly the gum’s fault. And if we have a couple losses in a row, I throw the pack away and have to buy a new one. I don’t know where this superstition came from but it just continued to grow.” Seems to be working, so no judgement here!

Lyndsay Green is a Chicago-based style and travel editor and founder of Beauty Atlas magazine, a destination guide for beauty enthusiasts. When she’s not in some far-flung destination testing natural face masks or stocking up on foreign beauty products, you can find her brushing up on her tumbling skills in an adult gymnastics class in the Windy City.

Original Source: http://www.espn.com/espnw/life-style/article/17450188/nike-welcomes-elena-delle-donne-home-rio

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Elena Delle Donne, Nneka Ogwumike Named WNBA Players of the Week

Courtesy of WNBA:

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2016 Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky and Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks today were named the WNBA’s Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Aug. 26 through Sept. 4.

Delle Donne earned Player of the Week honors for the second time this season and the 12th time in her four-year career.  The 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player presented by Samsung led the Sky to a 4-0 week – which covered the first 10 days after the Olympic break – as Chicago improved to 15-13 overall and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference.  Delle Donne leads the WNBA in scoring for the season (22.1 ppg).

Delle Donne paced all WNBA players in scoring (27.3 ppg) and ranked fourth among East players in rebounding (7.3 rpg) last week.  The former Delaware standout opened her week with 34 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 90-82 home win against the Atlanta Dream on Aug. 26.  Two days later, Delle Donne notched 18 points and nine boards in a 92-85 win over the host Dallas Wings.  On Sept. 2, the three-time All-Star scored 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 92-88 victory against the visiting Seattle Storm.  She capped the week by recording 35 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 97-73 home rout of the San Antonio Stars on Sept. 4.

Ogwumike earned Player of the Week honors for the fourth time in five weeks, the fifth time this season and the ninth time in her five-year career.  The former University of Stanford standout led Los Angeles to a 3-2 week and a tie for the WNBA’s best record at 24-5.  For the season, Ogwumike ranks third in the league in scoring (19.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg).

The three-time All-Star led all Western Conference players in scoring (21.0 ppg), ranked fifth among all WNBA players in rebounding (8.6 rpg) and finished fifth among West players in assists (4.2 apg) for the week.

On Aug. 26, Ogwumike finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a 79-72 loss to the host Storm.  She had another 28-point performance and added 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in an 87-79 road victory over the Wings on Sept. 2.  Ogwumike capped her week with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in an 88-81 home win against the Indiana Fever on Sept. 4.

Other candidates for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were the Dream’s Angel McCoughtry, the Connecticut Sun’s Chiney Ogwumike, the Minnesota Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore, the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles, the Storm’s Jewell Loyd and the Washington Mystics’ Tayler Hill.

For more information on this week’s Players of the Week, visit www.wnba.com/awards.

2016 WNBA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-nneka-ogwumike-wnba-players-of-week/

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Inside The Numbers: EDD’s Scoring Surge

Courtesy of WNBA:

Elena Delle Donne won an MVP and a scoring title in 2015. What has she done for an an encore in 2016?

Re-discover her three-point touch, apparently.

Although her per game numbers are slightly down from her MVP season (23.4 ppg to 22.1, 8.4 rpg to 7.2), her scoring from July on has been unmatched by anyone else in the league.

Here is her scoring average broken down by month:

May: 18.8
June: 20.4
July: 23.4
August: 26.0
September: 28.5 (through two games)

EDD has lifted the play of her entire team and it comes at the perfect time with the Playoffs rapidly approaching. Since the break, Chicago is 5-0 and Delle Donne is averaging 25.8 points. Currently the Sky sit at the fourth seed, which would give them a first-round bye and save them from one single-elimination game under the new playoff format.

Delle Donne has already made a career-high 43 three-pointers this season (on exactly 100 attempts) and she still has six games remaining to boost that total. Her 43% from downtown has helped her improve to a career-high 48.6% from the field this season, up 2.6% from her MVP year. After shooting 43.8% from behind the arc as a rookie, EDD regressed by her standards to 36.4% in her second year (when she played only 16 games) and then a career-low 31.6% during her MVP year. Whatever was wrong with her three-point shot appears to have been fixed, making it even harder for opposing defenses to develop a game plan to contend with her all-around offensive game.

The interesting part about her three-point shooting is that she has been much better on the road (51.9%) than at home (32.6%). Otherwise her home and road splits are almost identical, especially in scoring where she averages 22.0 at home and 22.1 on the road. Why has she shot the three-ball so much better on the road than at home?

One explanation is that an MVP-caliber player like EDD steps up her game when her team needs it the most, like road games against the best teams in the WNBA. She’s posted two games with five three-pointers this season: one in Minnesota on July 5th, when she shot 5-of-6 from deep and finished with a season-high 38 points to go along with 10 rebounds; and one on June 24th in New York, where she went 5-of-7 during a 31-point, 8-rebound performance.

Although the Sky lost both of these games, Delle Donne showed that she has the ability to score 30+ on any given night. The Sky are in the driver’s seat with just six games remaining and a half-game lead on the elusive fourth seed. EDD will look to carry her scorching hot September into the Playoffs.

Original Source: http://www.wnba.com/news/elena-delle-donne-stats-inside-numbers-090716/

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Young Sky fan gets her day in the sun

Courtesy of Chicago Tribune:

The Sky will make Friday a special day for one of its fans. Taliyah Jackson, 17, will sign a one-day contract, address reporters during a news conference and join players in the locker room and on the bench when the Chicago Sky play the Seattle Storm 7:30 p.m. at Allstate Arena.

Jackson, who has muscular dystrophy as well as other debilitating medical conditions, was chosen for the honor as part of a partnership between the Sky and La Rabida Children’s Hospital, where she receives physical therapy. Last year the team gave Kiara Hood, another La Rabida patient with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, the VIP treatment.

On Jackson’s big day, she’ll meet Elena Delle Donne. “Her uncle’s been talking to her about her,” said Denise Smalley, Jackson’s mother. “She knows she’s a good player. Then she also knows she went to the …”

“Olympics!” Jackson chimed in, finishing her mom’s sentence.

On Thursday, Delle Donne said via email that she admires Jackson’s strength and courage and called her an inspiration.

“I know what it’s like to dream about something your entire life like playing professional basketball or playing in the Olympics,” Delle Donne said. “And I can’t wait to watch Taliyah’s dream come true tomorrow.”

Jackson, who starts her senior year at South Shore International College Prep on Tuesday, has come a long way since October 2013, when she first started having seizures, adding a new neurological disorder.

Doctors at Rush University Medical Center diagnosed Jackson with mitochondrial encephalitis and ataxia, which create a rare, degenerative brain condition that, among other things, slows her walking and speech and causes other abnormal movements.

Jackson was hospitalized at La Rabida until February 2014, and during her stay she was visited by Bulls star Jimmy Butler and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She continues to work on her rehabilitation there and hasn’t had a seizure since that time.

Jackson is walking again, and can even run and dribble a basketball, but still requires a wheelchair at times. “If I go to a mall, I know I have to take her wheelchair with me because I know she wouldn’t be able to do a whole mall,” Smalley said. “But she can get around.”

 

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chicagoinc/ct-sky-teen-chicago-inc-spt-0902-20160901-story.html

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As WNBA returns, Sky’s Delle Donne reflects on Olympic gold

Courtesy of Daily Herald:

There was a season going on several weeks ago. Now, after a 34-day break for the Olympics, it’s game on again. Strange, but true.

The Chicago Sky, fighting for its playoff life with 10 games left, resumed the 2016 season with a game at Allstate Arena Friday night against the Atlanta Dream. It was a strange moment for Sky star Elena Delle Donne to see her Olympic teammate, Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream, in a different uniform.

Delle Donne and McCoughtry help the United States women cruise in Rio, earning the team’s sixth straight gold medal.

“That was the best part of the whole (Olympic) experience for me … the friendships I made with my teammates,” said Delle Donne, the WNBA’s reigning most valuable player. “We spent so much time together, every single day (for a month). Those are friendships that will last a lifetime.

“When I saw Angel (at Friday’s shootaround), I gave her a big hug. It’s weird to go out and compete against her now. Everyone is kind of friends with everyone (in the WNBA). But this is a little different now with Angel (and the other Olympians). Now, maybe it’s go out and get dinner after the game.”

The U.S. women certainly ate well while in Rio. Delle Donne says one of her best off-the-court moments was dinner at a swanky Brazilian steakhouse after a tour of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue.

“We went as a team and it was amazing,” Delle Donne said. “Seeing that statue and all the amazing views of Rio was really cool. It was great to experience that culture.”

Winning a gold medal was cool, too. Even though the U.S. women, like the U.S. men, were expected to win it all, it was still emotional for the players to finally do it.

“A dream come true,” Delle Donne said of having the gold medal hung around her neck and standing atop the medal stand. “I grew up watching the Olympics. I loved it. I wanted to be there in some way someday. That gold medal is quite a prized possession of mine.”

And, according to Delle Donne, it was harder to come by than everyone else thought.

“Everyone was making it seem like it was so easy for us,” said Delle Donne, a reserve on a team with an average margin of victory in Rio of 38.4 points per game. “It actually was really difficult. Our team had to come together in less than a month and try to gain chemistry, and I remember at the beginning we weren’t playing very beautiful basketball.

“But we were at the end. And that was the amazing part. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in basketball. Great coaching, and everyone was so talented and intelligent and willing to take on a new role if it meant helping the team. It’s just fun to play on a team like that because it can take your game to new heights.”

And yet, USA head coach Geno Auriemma kept all the personalities on an even keel.

“He never made us feel the pressure,” Delle Donne said. “I really liked playing for him. It’s not just the X’s and O’s with him, but he helped us through the pressure with his funny personality. He’s really fun.”

Delle Donne had so much fun she’s already thinking about Tokyo’s 2020 Games.

“I would love to go back,” Delle Donne said. “It was the greatest experience of my life.”

But first, Delle Donne has work to do. She wants to get the Sky back to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

“This is the weirdest season I’ve ever played in (because of the Olympic break), but I’m ready to get going again,” Delle Donne said. “I was so excited to see my (Sky) teammates again. They’ve been working hard (during the break), doing stadium stairs and beach workouts. I know they are dying to play some games.

“We’ve got some good teams to fight (for a playoff spot). We’re ready.”

Original Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160826/sports/160829091/

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Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP: How burnout actually helped my career

Courtesy of CNBC:

Standing at 6 foot 5, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne looks like she could never be stopped.

But burnout from basketball almost ended her incredible career.

“To be honest, I burned myself out” at one point, Donne told CNBC.

It happened at the end of high school. The young athlete would get up before school to run and lift, attend a full day of school, practice after school with the team, and then train even more on her own after that.

It was too much, and the rising star nearly walked off the court for good.

“I actually gave up the game after high school and put the basketball away for a year,” she said. “I started playing volleyball and set my mind to becoming an Olympian in volleyball.”

While 365 days without practice would be enough to sideline most athletes, Donne came back with full force.

“I knew the second I picked the ball back up and started playing that I wanted to get back into it,” she said.

Burnout, as it turns out, helped Donne rediscover her passion, a key ingredient she says all successful people need.

“You know, sometimes you do have to put it down in order to get the passion back,” said Donne, a 2015 MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association who plays for the Chicago Sky. “Luckily, I got it back.”

Donne recently took home a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics for the U.S. women’s basketball team.

“There’s going to be times you don’t feel like doing it and you just have to remind yourself — what are you working for, what do you want to be, where do you want to get to?”

WITHOUT THE PASSION, YOU’VE GOT NOTHING. – Elena Delle Donne, Olympic gold medalist and WNBA MVP

On top of Donne’s already difficult job, since 2008 she has been battling Lyme disease, which often causes serious joint pain and fatigue, among a range of other symptoms. She says her older sister, Lizzie, who is deaf and blind, motivates her to keep striving.

“Without the passion, you’ve got nothing,” she said. “You need the passion to put the practice and preparation in.”

Original Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/25/olympic-gold-medalist-elena-delle-donne-burnout-helped-my-career.html

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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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Hometown Hero Returns to Delaware

On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, Elena Delle Donne returned to her home state of Delaware, along with the rest of the United States women’s national basketball team, to play an exhibition Olympic tune-up game against France. As a Delaware student, I jumped at the opportunity to attend this game to support the former Blue Hen.

The return to Delaware

I arrive in Newark, Del. and enter my apartment for the first time, a place I will enter again in one month when I start my junior year at the university. I walk past Memorial Hall on the Green relishing the beauty that is the University of Delaware’s campus.

I walk down Main Street passing a few familiar faces, but mostly see Newark residents enjoying the beautiful weather. I wonder if any of these people are going to the big game tonight. I reconnect with a few friends, all the while getting that giddy and excited feeling in my stomach because I’m back home and back in one of my favorite places in the world.

But, there also happens to be another very coveted person returning to this small town on this day; one who has been gone for a little longer than I have. Her name is Elena Delle Donne. Have you heard of her? As a Delaware student and resident, Delle Donne is to UD what Stephen Curry is to Davidson. Of course, we also have Joe Biden, Joe Flacco and several others, but as of late, Delle Donne is arguably the most famous and accomplished graduate that our university has.

Delle Donne is returning to the Bob Carpenter Center with not just Ursuline, Delaware or Chicago Sky written across her chest, but with the three most-important letters of all: U-S-A. The Olympics is something that Elena Delle Donne has been working toward her entire life, and she gets to prepare for the pinnacle moment of her career right on her home court, in front of family, friends, fans and Delaware students, like me.

USA vs. France

A smile beams across my face when the team comes running out of the locker room and the crowd erupts. Delle Donne waves to the audience with both hands expressing her gratitude to the sold-out crowd. There is a faint chant of her name that is drowned out from the loudness of the cheers.

Although this moment must be incredibly emotional for her, Delle Donne appears extremely focused in warmups. She’s chewing on her gum and calmly draining her shots just like she did hundreds of times on this court as a Blue Hen.

Scanning the crowd, there are so many people with Chicago Sky No. 11 jerseys, and even more with University of Delaware apparel. For Delaware residents, this is even more special because their state doesn’t have professional teams in any sport. These are their sporting events, and the pride follows suit. Delle Donne making it onto the Olympic team is something that is almost unheard of from the small state of Delaware. She is quite simply a hometown hero, and the crowd will do everything in its power to make sure she knows it.

Delle Donne takes the microphone and addresses the anticipating crowd. “This atmosphere puts me at a loss of words. Let’s make the Bob go crazy,” she says. Although it becomes very clear that the crowd doesn’t need any encouragement to make noise throughout the game.

The crowd erupts before she even touches the floor in game-time action. While the team’s roster is announced, the building practically shakes as the announcer calls her name. When she is announced as a starter, the fans continue to go wild. Some of the people in attendance have been supporting her as a basketball player since she was in the eighth grade, and pride is resounding throughout the crowd.

When she attempts and makes her first three-pointer, the crowd is on its feet, arms up in the air and I have chills. People are yelling, “I love you Elena!” and it was in that moment that I realized she was truly inspiring a whole generation of women in basketball, and women in sports.

She is greeted with a standing ovation when she is subbed out of the game with about 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Fans in the crowd are holding up signs with her name on them, including one that says, “US Olympian #11 DE Proud.”

On the bench, she is chatting alongside Maya Moore, but all the while keeping a strong watch on the game. It seems to me that she hasn’t yet been able to even absorb the scope of this crowd and moment.

Every time Delle Donne touches or comes near the ball, the volume in the arena is amplified. The draw of fans at the Bob is clearly for her, but her teammates are undoubtedly eating up the energy. A chant of “USA” ensues and it brings this game into perspective. These women are traveling to the Olympics in under a week to try and bring home a gold medal for their country; something that is so much bigger than themselves.

With about six minutes left in the game, the crowd starts yelling to Geno Auriemma, “We want Elena!” and “Put Elena in!” Their pleas are granted with just over four minutes left in the contest, as Delle Donne scurries over to the table to be subbed in. The excitement is building and peaks right when she steps on the floor. There is a dramatic sigh when she misses a pull up three-pointer, but her 10-point performance is capped off with a fierce drive to the basket for a three-point play opportunity. This play is enough to keep the crowd excited all the way through the final whistle.

There is another standing ovation for Delle Donne, and she scans the crowd one last time taking in this electric environment. After the game, she comments that this was by far the most emotional game she has ever played in at the Bob. “To see faces that have gone along with me in this entire journey, and now see me in a USA Jersey, which has been my dream my entire life, it was so special to come out and share that with them as well.”

More than just a game

After the game, fans gather in the corner of the court, and some are rewarded with a high-five from their idol. Many others are waiting to see if she will return to the court after the press conference. Although notified she will not be returning, the disappointed looks of fans fade at the realization that they were just treated to a performance by Delle Donne en route to the Olympics.

Delle Donne is inspiring generations of young girls and boys to follow their dreams. She is living proof that you can make it in women’s basketball without going to the UConns or Stanfords of the world. She is the face of Delaware athletics. She is the face of women’s basketball. This is not only a dream come true for her, but also for Delaware fans.

“I’m not here to just represent myself, or the team,” Delle Donne said after the exhibition. “We’re really representing everybody, trying to make this dream come true for everyone.”

And for this fan, she is doing just that.

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US Women’s wrap up 3 exhibitions at Garden

Via San Francisco Chronicle

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. women’s basketball team continues its pre-Olympic tour with a three-city exhibition series that wraps up Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Americans will face France on Wednesday at the University of Delaware, play Canada on Friday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and host Australia on Sunday in New York before heading to the Rio Olympics.

“We really want to win the next three games, but at the same time, we need to find out before we get on that plane to go to Rio, what we have,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “What can we count on? What’s going to be our strength?

“What are the things that we’re going to build on that are going to sustain us down there? And that’s what these next three games are going to be all about.”

The Americans will play France in the home state of Olympic rookie Elena Delle Donne.

“I’m excited for a chance to play in front of the home crowd,” said Delle Donne, who had 11 points in the 88-84 victory over the select team in Los Angeles on Monday night.

France was the silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics and Australia has medaled at every Olympics since 1996 — the year that the U.S. won the first of its five straight gold medals.

“This is a good chance for us to see where we are before the Olympics,” Australia guard Penny Taylor said. “It will give the younger players a chance to face the U.S. for the first time before Olympic competition.”

While most of the other teams in the Olympics have been together for months, the U.S. has had just two days of practice. After a sluggish start against the select team, the Olympic squad built a 12-point lead.

The select group kept it close, giving the national team all it could handle.

“We are focused on the whole process, the whole journey, and this was just the first game,” said guard Sue Bird, who is aiming for a fourth gold medal at the Olympics. “We’ve only had a couple practices together, so it was really good to be challenged in that way by the select team. It really showed what we’re going to need to work on and the level that we have to play at moving forward.”

The U.S. will play its first game at the Olympics on Aug. 7 against Senegal. Other teams in the Americans group are Canada, China, Serbia and Spain.

The Americans will be trying to win a sixth consecutive gold medal, the most by any women’s team sport. They’ve won 41 straight Olympic contests dating back to the bronze medal game in 1992.

Original Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/article/US-women-s-hoops-team-wraps-up-3-exhibitions-at-8424789.php#photo-10656942

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Zika, Delle Donne ‘Unwaivered’

Elena Delle Donne has seen pro athlete peers such as LeBron James and Jason Day withdraw from the Rio Olympics, but the Sky star said Friday that there’s no way she’s dropping out despite the risks associated with the Zika virus.

“For me, my mind still hasn’t wavered at all about Olympics. This is a dream come true to respresent the country and there’s no doubt I will be there,” Delle Donne said during a conference call.

The Team USA women’s basketball player has been especially vigilant about monitoring her health since she said she first developed symptoms of Lyme disease and was later diagnosed her sophomore year at the University of Delaware. The disease, transmitted through tick bites, can cause fatigue, headaches, joint pain and flu-like symptoms.

Some athletes, such as Day, cited concern about the Zika outbreak in Brazil as the primary reason for pulling out of the Olympics. The disease can be contracted through mosquito bites and can cause severe birth defects, as well as fever, joint pain and other symptoms.

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Delle Donne featured in Glamour Magazine

Via Chicago Tribune

Elena Delle Donne boasts about the depth of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in the July issue of Glamour magazine.

“We could field a second team,” the Chicago Sky star says. “We have players dropping three-pointers from half court. It’s an incredible group.”

Delle Donne is featured in a photoshoot with Olympic teammates Tamika Catchings, a Stevenson High School alum and former Deerfield resident, and Sue Bird.

The issue is on newsstands now.
Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-glamour-magazine-20160609-story.html

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Back to DE with US Team in tow

Via Delaware Online

Fans of Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne will have an opportunity to watch her and the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team at her old playground this summer during the 2016 USA Basketball Showcase. The women’s national team will host Australia, Canada and France in a four-team, three-stop tournament July 27-31 at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center, Bridgeport, Connecticut; and New York.

Featuring the world’s second-ranked team Australia, 2015 FIBA Americas Championship gold medalist Canada and 2012 Olympic silver medalist France, the showcase tips off at the “Bob” at 5 p.m. on July 27 for Australia vs. Canada, followed by a 7:30 p.m. clash between the USA and France. The July 29 games feature a 4:30 p.m. start at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport between Australia and France, while the USA takes on Canada at 7 p.m. On the tournament’s final day at Madison Square Garden, Canada and France tip off at 1:30 p.m., while the USA and Australia will begin play at 4 p.m.

From there, the U.S. team will travel to Houston for United States Olympic Team processing and a final practice on Aug. 2, prior to traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tickets for the USA Basketball Showcase exhibition games will go on sale starting June 13. For ticket information visit usab.com/showcase.

“This tournament with Australia, Canada and France, three of the top teams in the world, is an incredible opportunity for our team to prepare for Rio,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who has directed the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships. “I think each of these games will be competitive and be a really, really good preview of what you’ll see in August at the Olympics. Two years ago we were able to play games at Delaware … and the fan support at both of those games was tremendous.”

Five-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team features three-time gold medalists and tri-captains Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx). Competing in their first Olympic Games are Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut).

FIBA on March 11, 2016, held the draw to determine the Aug. 6-10 preliminary round groups, and the United States was placed in Group B along with Canada, Senegal, Serbia and two teams that will earn their berths at the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament next week in Nantes, France. The top five finishing teams from the Olympic qualifier will earn a berth to Rio, with the second and fourth best teams included in Group B.

The U.S. will open play against against Senegal on Aug. 7, followed by the No. 4 team from the Olympic qualifier on Aug. 8, Serbia on Aug. 10, Canada Aug. 12, and the USA concludes preliminary round play on Aug. 14 against the No. 2 team from the Olympic qualifier.

Auriemma will be assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.

Original Source: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/2016/06/09/delle-donne-comes-back-delaware-us-team-tow/85664188/

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Delle Donne’s Silent Supremacy

Via Roling Stone Magazine

Elena Delle Donne is not just a basketball player. She also likes making tables. She is the proud owner of a dog named Wrigley, the reigning champion of Complex’s Beast Wars bracket. She’s built a bed frame with her bare hands! But when you hit free throws at a rate of 94 percent, your woodworking acumen tends to recede from the foreground, even if you continue to post photos of your latest creations on social media. And even if, because you are the kind of grinder who figures you might as well make a business of your hobby, you start selling your furniture on Etsy.

Because here’s the thing about that number: it’s higher than NBA free throw record-holder Steve Nash or Rick Barry or half-court hustler Steph Curry. It’s higher than those of the men she’s compared to by well-meaning people who wish to compliment her through analogy to male players: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki. Elene Delle Donne can mess around with framing squares all she wants, but the 90-degree angle that bests basketball pros worldwide is the one she makes with her own arms as she stands at the foul line. Quick dribble, knee bend, smooth unfurling of the right angle: that’s the technique that has made her the most accurate free throw shooter in all pro ball. No fat to trim, it would make Frank Bunker Gilbreth proud.

Of course, Delle Donne’s free-throw shooting is just one aspect of her game; the reigning WNBA MVP, she may be the most well-rounded player the league has seen in recent history. She’s a big who can play post and guard, taking small players inside and staying to the outer perimeter with tall opponents. It’s a tactic her father first suggested when she was a kid: combine altitude and attitude, genetics with technical facility, destiny and free will. And it’s served her well.

“It’s just complete confidence and knowing everything’s going your way,” she says. “So anything you do will be successful.”

Part of what makes her effective is exactly that zone, which many describe as poise – not arrogance, but the placid confidence of a player who doesn’t question the future, seeing it only as a place where intentions become correct outcomes. Somehow, what seems impossible to almost every person in the world feels natural when she’s on the court. There’s some chess to it, but there’s also the instinct developed by routinized tape study and years of making reads.

Pokey Chatman, her coach on the Chicago Sky, says Delle Donne plays with intellect. She means how fluent Delle Donne is in corporeal codes. It’s a language Delle Donne, who says verbal communication isn’t always the best way to speak, trusts.

This faith she attributes to her older sister Lizzie, who is deafblind, autistic and has cerebral palsy. All her life, Delle Donne has spoken to her sister through hand-over-hand signing, in which the listener gently holds the hands of the speaker in something like a manual dance, words felt on the skin. But sometimes, Delle Donne just observes Lizzie. She likes to watch a smile break on her sister’s face when a breeze ruffles by.

“You learn so much more than from other forms of communication,” she says. “She experiences the world in such a different way, and it’s incredible to watch.”

Still, the sisters cannot speak outside of each other’s physical presences. They need to share space. It’s one reason their brother Gene believes that Elena made a midnight getaway from UConn after only two days of classes. Delle Donne has said she needed to find herself outside of basketball. It’s difficult for her to explain how she found that woman; all she did was not play basketball. She joined the University of Delaware volleyball team instead, until she decided she had no idea what she was doing (she knows what she likes: family, basketball and dogs) and returned to the court.

Other players might’ve agonized over passing up the chance to train with UConn’s Geno Auriemma, but according to Delle Donne, more even than winning the MVP last year or leading the WNBA in All-Star Game voting during her first season – the first time a rookie has ever done so – her pride is situated in having made a mid-major, University of Delaware, into a name.

Now, her eyes are on Rio. She remembers watching the Olympics as a kid: track and field, volleyball, swimming. It became the dream. After last season, she toured Europe with the USA Women’s National Team and she’s participated in Olympic training camps, but her place in Brazil wasn’t officially assured. Then, earlier this year, she was driving to her practice facility when she got the call from Carol Callan, the Women’s National Team Director. She was scared, or maybe relieved. She was also, she was to discover, a member of the Olympic team, alongside the likes of Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, Angel McCoughtry and Brittney Griner. In the WNBA, these players are her rivals. Now, they’ll be her teammates.

“We all get to play together, which is so refreshing,” she says. “Finally! Be on one team together instead of always competing against one another.”

It’s a statement that could be interpreted as disingenuously Pollyannaish, but it reflects something of the humbleness of the WNBA. The league has fared well in comparison to other women’s pro leagues, but its 12 teams still don’t get prime coverage. Around half of American players, such as Griner and Taurasi, have played abroad, because WNBA salaries amount to pocket change for their NBA counterparts, while, for example, Griner made 12 times her 2013 WNBA salary playing in China. Delle Donne, with her scoring finesse and squeaky clean image, has supplemented the pay with endorsements, and recently she joined Chris Paul and Demaryius Thomas — not to mention Twitter— as a strategic partner and equity investor in Muzik, an audio tech company soon to release wireless headphones.

The night we spoke, Delle Donne had already done a photo shoot for the company, and after a day of posing, she sounded a little tired. Then again, that could also have something to do with a general weariness with the media. After all the articles that have been written about her, she wonders what’s left to write about (she thinks the most interesting aspect of her life is the woodworking thing). Everyone knows that she loves Chicago, even though she must spend six months of the year away from family. Everyone knows about the Lyme Disease she was diagnosed with in college. Everyone knows she wants to lower the rim in women’s basketball. At this point, she’d prefer to let her play on the court do the talking – even if she knows that’s wishful thinking.

“It’s like, I’ve done so many articles. People know a lot, a lot about me,” she says. “[But] I’m constantly thinking of new ways to engage fans, and help grow the visibility of the WNBA.”

“You didn’t study marketing, did you?” I ask.

“I did not,” she laughs, a little ruefully. “Maybe I should have.”

Original Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/sports/features/elena-delle-donnes-silent-supremacy-20160527

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Delle Donne to Make Olympic Debut

Via ESPNW

Playing in the Summer Olympics will be part of a very full 2016 for UConn star and recent WNBA No. 1 draft pick Breanna Stewart. She was among the 12 players named Wednesday to the U.S. women’s basketball team for the upcoming Rio Games, and one of three first-time Olympians.

Also making their Olympic debuts will be Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne, who was the WNBA’s MVP last season, and Phoenix’s Brittney Griner. The Americans will be seeking their sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal. Stewart is coming off a fourth consecutive NCAA title with the Huskies, and she was selected first in the draft by Seattle, where she’ll start her professional career.

“It’s definitely been a great year,” Stewart said. “I’ve had a lot of great things happen throughout my career, but when you look at the opportunity to be able to go to the Olympics, that was my biggest goal in basketball. Winning a fourth national championship, getting drafted, going to the Storm, and now this. It’s really amazing. I can’t wait to get going and see what happens.”

The rest of the U.S. roster comprises nine of the 10 players who were returning from the 2012 London Olympics.

They are Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen of defending WNBA champion Minnesota; Seattle’s Sue Bird, Indiana’s Tamika Catchings, New York’s Tina Charles, Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi.

Bird, Taurasi and Catchings are all going for their fourth Olympic gold medal. Catchings has already announced that this will be her final season of play.

Los Angeles’ Candace Parker, who won gold with the U.S. team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was not chosen for the squad. Parker, 30, is the only active WNBA player who has won the league’s MVP award more than once. She is also the only player off the 2012 Olympic team who was one of the finalists for 2016 but was not picked.

“If you combine the returning 2012 Olympians with the 2014 world champions, you have 15 very qualified candidates,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said in a statement. “Add to that an emerging group of young athletes, and the decision becomes that much harder to settle on a final 12-member roster.

“The good news is that we have developed a deep, talented pool of athletes at each position through our national team program. We are grateful that the very best athletes in our country want to play and push each other to be better whenever our team gathers to train.”

A five-member selection committee made the final decision on the 12 players. The team is coached by UConn’s Geno Auriemma. He had six former Huskies on the team that he coached to a gold medal in the 2012 London Games. This time there are five from UConn: Stewart, Moore, Bird, Charles and Taurasi.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it’s the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team,” Auriemma said in a statement. “But the 12 that were named are a great combination of multiple gold-medal winners and great leaders.”

Stewart and Griner played on the 2014 world championship team for the United States. But this will be the first major competition on the senior national team for Delle Donne, who was the No. 2 pick behind Griner in the 2013 WNBA draft. Last season, Delle Donne led the WNBA in scoring at 23.4 PPG and won the MVP award.

“It’s so hard to even put it into words,” Delle Donne said. “Just to think this entire basketball journey I’ve been on has been absolutely incredible, but this has been by far the pinnacle of my career and the best news I’ve ever heard. It’s absolutely a dream come true.”

The Olympics will run from Aug. 5-21. The U.S. team is in Group B along with Canada, Senegal, Serbia and two teams that will earn their berth in the Rio Games at the Olympic qualifying tournament in France from June 13-19.

Original Source: http://espn.go.com/olympics/basketball/story/_/id/15392591/breanna-stewart-elena-delle-donne-12-players-named-us-women-basketball-roster-rio-olympics

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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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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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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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Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot named Olympic team finalists

Via Chicago Tribune

WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and Chicago Sky teammate Courtney Vandersloot were named two of 25 finalists for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team on Monday.

Delle Donne led the league in scoring (23.4) and Vandersloot led in assists (5.8) last season. They’ll join former teammate Sylvia Fowles and 22 other WNBA stars at training camp Feb. 21-23 at the University of Connecticut with the hope of making the cut for the 12-woman roster.

Delle Donne played Team USA for its European tour and helped the Americans finish 4-0 against three pro clubs and the Italian national team.

The roster of finalists for Rio 2016 is filled with other Chicago ties.

• Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) is a former Niles West standout who starred for Notre Dame.
• Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), who helped knock the Sky out of the playoffs, played high school ball at Stevenson.
• Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) was a former National Player of the Year out of Naperville Central.
• Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) was the first draft pick in Sky franchise history.

Original Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/ct-elena-delle-donne-olympics-20160125-story.html

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USA National Team Races Past EuroCup Pro Team Dike Naples, 86-50

By USA Basketball via Sports Page Magazine

In an overall team effort that saw every member score by halftime, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (3-0) raced out to a 32-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and earned an eventual 86-50 win over 2015-16 EuroCup pro team Dike Naples on Thursday night in Naples, Italy.

Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) tied as the game’s high scorer with a team-high 15 points to go with three rebounds, a pair of blocked shots and two steals, Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut) shot 6-of-9 from the field and finished with 12 points and three steals, Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky) contributed 11 points and five boards, Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics) scored 11 points on 4-of-5 from the floor, and Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) rounded out the USA’s top five scorers with eight points to go with a game-high three assists. Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) grabbed a game-best nine caroms, while contributing six points and four steals.

“I thought that for about 30 minutes we played some really, really good basketball,” said USA National Team head coach Geno Auriemma, who utilized a new starting lineup tonight. “All-in-all, I’m glad that that second group (tonight’s starting five) got a chance to play a lot of minutes and contribute a lot. It was good for them to show what they can do when given an opportunity.”

“Being able to get them out there right from the beginning when it mattered was important. I thought they set a great tone in the first quarter. So for me, this is what this trip is all about. We want to give people an opportunity to make the team or to show us that they’re not quite ready yet. Sometimes when you’re bringing people off the bench, you’re not getting them in the right circumstances all the time. So, I thought today was good.”

Griner, who had nine points by the end of the first quarter, put the red, white and blue on the board first with a pair of free throws at 8:34. Naples got a bucket at 7:07, but Griner scored seven points to help fuel a 14-0 run that blew the game open, 16-2, at 4:32. Following a 4-2 spurt by the home team, the USA reeled off another 14-0 run to take a commanding 32-6 lead after 10 minutes of play.

Naples never threatened as the U.S. went up 55-16 at halftime and 77-36 at the end of the third period.

“We were working out the kinks a little bit,” said Stewart, who started against Naples after coming off the bench in the USA’s first two games. “We have a big game on Saturday, it’s our last game on this tour and we want to finish off strong. This is preparing us for that.

“Our group was trying to make sure we had the fluidity of our plays down and that kind of stuff,” continued Stewart. “There are certain sets that we want to make sure, if we have to use them, we know how to do so and are ready to do that. Eventually we figured it out.”

The Americans connected on a blistering 58.7 percent (37-63 FGs) from the field, including 42.9 percent (6-14 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while holding Naples to just 37.7 percent (20-53 FGs) field goal shooting and 33.3 percent (7-21 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.

Gintare Pertonyte was the top scorer for Naples with 15 points.

Four-time USA Basketball gold medalist Cierra Burdick (Atlanta Dream), who played at the University of Tennessee, recently arrived in Naples and contributed three points and six rebounds.

For Delle Donne, the three days in Italy was a return to her roots and the reigning WNBA MVP was swarmed by fans in Rome and Naples asking for selfies and autographs.

“It’s amazing that just my last name alone brings so many fans,” she said after making her way through a throng of fans following the game. “It’s pretty incredible, the support that they had for me.”

The USA’s four-game European tour concludes with a game against 2015 EuroLeague champion USK Prague on Oct. 9 in Prague, Czech Republic. Not only did USK Prague win the EuroLeague title last spring, it recently defeated a Diana Taurasi-led UMMC Ekaterinburg squad 93-91 on Oct. 7 for the 2016 SuperCup title.

“It’s going to be a little bit weird (laughs),” said Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), who helped lead USK to the EuroLeague crown last season and will remain in Prague with the club team after Saturday’s game. “I know they’re going to come out and play hard. That’s kind of our M.O., our coach prides herself on defense, and getting out and running on transition. I think it’ll be a good test for us, especially because we like to do the same thing. I think it’ll be a good game.”

“Obviously we’re getting ready to play one of the best teams in all of Europe, one that’s just coming off of a great win over a great team,” added Auriemma. “So, I’m sure they have a lot of confidence right now. And any chance you get to play the United States, I’m sure they’re going to be excited. It’s going to be a challenge for us, going into their country. It’s the last game of a long trip, so I’m looking forward to seeing what our team is made of. I think we’re going to play great. It’s going to be a great environment and it’s going to be a great game.”

Auriemma is being assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley. Reeve is coaching the Minnesota Lynx in the 2015 WNBA Finals and therefore is not with the team in Europe. University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti is serving as a court coach during the USA’s European Tour.

The USA squad is using this tour as preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team
U.S. Olympic women’s basketball teams have earned a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, and are 58-3 all-time in Olympic competition. The 2016 U.S. team will enter Rio riding a 41-game Olympic winning streak that dates back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medal game.

Since the inception of the 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, the USA National Team, in addition to its record five-straight Olympic gold medals, has captured four FIBA World Championship gold medals, one FIBA World Championship bronze medal and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal, while compiling a remarkable 86-1 record for a .989 winning percentage in those events. Further, USA National Teams in exhibition contests since 1995 boast of a 186-15 record (.925 winning percentage).

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USA Women’s National Team Defeats Uni Girona, 84-52

Elena is among 33 athletes who have been selected to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas from October 3rd to October 6th. From this pool of 33 athletes the 2014 World Championship Team will be selected.

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Geno Auriemma’s Global Reach

Elena is among 33 athletes who have been selected to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas from October 3rd to October 6th. From this pool of 33 athletes the 2014 World Championship Team will be selected.

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Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, Courtney Vandersloot headed to Europe with Team USA

Elena is among 33 athletes who have been selected to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas from October 3rd to October 6th. From this pool of 33 athletes the 2014 World Championship Team will be selected.

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Delle Donne Invited to USA Basketball Mini-Camp

Elena is among 33 athletes who have been selected to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp in Las Vegas from October 3rd to October 6th. From this pool of 33 athletes the 2014 World Championship Team will be selected.

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