Notes + Full Quotes From the Canadian National Women’s Team Announcement & Open Practice.

In case you missed it, Team Canada announced their 12 player roster which is now on their website and will head to the US pretty soon to play some exhibition games before heading to the Olympics games. Last Friday, the Canadian National Women’s Team had media availability and I got the chance to speak to some players as well as the head coach. I also have a feature on Excelle Sports which should be out tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Below, I’ve transcribed the full quotes from the players I interviewed (Lizanne Murphy, Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse, Miranda Ayim & the head coach Lisa Thomaidis) on their thoughts on Rio, on Natalie Achonwa and more.

Natalie Achonwa – Center, Canada Olympic Team

On how different these Olympics are compared to the first time they qualified (2012)

“The first time we were one of the last teams to qualify and it was last minute on Canada Day, so it was right before we were trying to get to London and so this time, qualifying this far in advance, we had time to prepare and not just even last year, and it gives you a lot more time to get mentally ready as well as physically on the court and it allows you to eliminate some distractions as well knowing what to expect in the Village and not being so awestruck by it all. It allows you to prepare for the whirlwind of the Olympics.”

On the Olympic break the WNBA scheduled this year.

“Last summer was more hectic than this summer, because I was taking unplanned breaks, leaving for the Pan Am games and for the FIBA Americas. This time, this summer, it’s a lot easier as the Olympic break is built into the WNBA schedule because the US is in it and the nice Olympic chunk is taken out of our season which is really nice because it virtually creates a divide between when I’m with the Indiana Fever and when I’m with Canada Basketball. Although I’m always training for the Olympics and I’m always training to represent my country, it allows me to mentally take off my Indiana Fever hat and really focus on the events of Canada Basketball.”

On what advice she would give to young star Kia Nurse on her first Olympic experience.

“Considering this is our second time around for most of us, I think I would tell Kia to enjoy the games, to soak in the atmosphere, but the vets will also be in her ear, reminding her to stay focused as it is easy to get distracted from all the events that occur in the Olympic village.”

Her thoughts on the media blackout from the Fever and the black lives matter movement(*note – this was before the league rescinded the fines)

“I was really proud of our league and our players union to be able to take a stand and to
be passionate about it, it’s unfortunate that the league felt that they needed to fine us
because of support of other events and the players invested in and believed in and they
weren’t backing us, so it was kind of upsetting but at the same time, I’m really proud of
the players that they took a stand and believed in and didn’t let anyone alter that.”

Lizanne Murphy – Forward, Canadian Olympic Team

Her thoughts on the Olympics

“We have a chance to do something really great here, something special, going out and doing it, but I think we can do it. I’m just excited for the games, that’s really, we’ve been preparing for this for four years, so it’s like finally here, and I can’t wait.”

Her thoughts on the chance Canada can earn a medal

So many things are out of your control. It all depends on who you face through the
quarter finals. You first have to get out of our pool which is a tough pool because we are in the same group as the US then you have to play some more playoff type games, so honestly it’s difficult for me to make a prediction but I will say that if we play well, we have a good shot.”

On team mate Natalie Achonwa’s ability to go back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team.

“Props to her. She’s such a proud Canadian and special. Nat is one of my closest friends on the team, she really loves playing for Team Canada, it’s a testament to her schedule. This is not easy to do what she does and it’s not going to be difficult to integrate her as she’s been on the team for so long (six to seven years) and she’s a very experienced player even though she’s very young.”

Her injury status update (*she was out with an ACL injury before)

“I feel good. Really good. I was ready to go before, like in May, even though it hadn’t been a full year since I went down with the injury. I’m healthy and I’m been waiting for the Olympics, so I’m excited.”

Kia Nurse – guard, Canadian Olympic Team

Thoughts on the Olympics

“It’s a whirlwind when I think about it. The fact that I’m going to be at one which is really weird to me, it’s a dream come true obviously, it’s something you aspire to do, to be there and to have this experience is amazing.”

What Geno Auriemma has said to her

“Haha, we’ve talked about it a little bit. He just told me to soak it in, take in the whole experience, enjoy it and use this summer to continue to get better basketball wise, learn new things and that’s it.”

Update on her injury status (*she had surgery a couple of weeks prior)

“I’m good to move forward now, I’m practicing, I’m moving around alot, the time line is exactly where it was supposed to be, so fortunate it all went well.”

Her thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth.

“I think it’s amazing. Obviously, the WNBA is a great high level for us to have athletes at and we’ve had a surge of Canadians going to the WNBA recently and it’s just a testament to hard she’s worked, everything she’s doing there and were so proud of her.”

Her thoughts on Canada getting a medal

“Well, were going in with the mindset of getting a medal, the colour at this point is up in the air. You obviously want the gold, but a medal at this point the medal is something were going for and I think we have the potential to go do it.”

Miranda Ayim – Forward, Canadian Olympic Team

Thoughts on the Olympics.

“We are very excited to go to the Olympics, it’s amazing how fast the time flies, these next couple of weeks are going to go by really fast leading up to the Olympics. Looking forward to it and I think were going to make a good mark. Where very focused, what were focused now is the first game against China and we just played three games against China, so were looking forward to stepping on the court and getting back to business, personally.”

Thoughts on the US exhibition tour next week(*this week)

“It’s going to be a great competition, because were playing against great teams. The top three teams in the world, and that’s how we want to sharpen our skills against so the US, France, Australia in the tournament earlier, and we played the US earlier this year as well so this will be a great tune up.”

Thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team

“Well, Natalie has been with us for years, you know, even if she’s in and out, but obviously she still has the history with us, the bond among all the team mates, it’s like a family, so when she comes back on the court, steps on the floor, it’s like she never left.”

Thoughts on Kia Nurse

“Obviously, I have no worries about it. She’s back practicing with us, so I know she’s ready to go.”

Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis

Her thoughts on Natalie Achonwa going back and forth between the WNBA and the Olympic Team

“Natalie’s been a part of our program for several years now, so this is nothing for her. You know, were happy to have her back, she’s had such a long season in the WNBA, it’s a grind,
playing every few days, so were just happy she’s with us now and utilizing her time as
best as we can so she can get up to speed on what we are doing.”

Natalie Achonwa’s role on Team Canada

“Nat has tremendous basketball IQ, she’s an experienced player, she can bring a lot of energy, she can really quarter back our back line for the center position and she plays a key role in our offense so we really look to her to bring a spark and energy, she could really play a number of different roles, and she’s a leader.”

Thoughts on Kia Nurse

“Kia’s a great player, were glad to have her back and we anticipate on having her be back to the player she was for us last year.”

Her success at UCONN and how that translates to the National Team

“She’s been a tremendous player for the last few years with us, so we expect the same thing from her. She’s a tremendous defensive player, who can also get it done on the offensive end and she’s one of our go to players.”

Thoughts on her team at Rio

“Just seeing how well our team will perform. Last year, we improved in key areas and I anticipate that the same thing will happen in these Olympics. We haven’t played our best yet, so it will be a fun test to see what level this team will play at in Rio”

Thoughts on a medal

“Too many uncontrollable factors. I can’t say, there’s such a great pool with so many great teams, so there’s going to be alot of competition for a medal for sure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Year Update on My Life + San Antonio Stars + more

Hey there!!

In case you haven’t noticed, I stopped blogging on this site for over two years. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it. I had gotten busy with another Stars centered website (www.starshoops.net) and other various WNBA and women’s basketball websites. I had tons of fun writing for other sites for two solid years and still will occasionally. I actually thought this site was gone or erased and I was going to make a new blog centered on my thoughts on women’s basketball, the Canadian women’s Olympic team, etc.

It’s weird seeing my posts in 2014 and how I really thought at that time it would lead to me becoming a sports writer. I’ve now let go of that dream, but I still have the passion to write about basketball and get into analysis, etc. I’ve reached the point in my life where that dream is no longer feasible for me and I have to search for other career choices that will ultimately help not only mine but my family’s lives as well. That doesn’t mean that I still won’t be here tweeting about the latest games and stats, it will just be less often.

With that said, this blog is now going to be changed to a new name and a new header which you will see when many of you probably see when it is updated. This new blog will have my thoughts every so often on the WNBA, women’s college basketball, Canada Olympics, etc. It will be updated every two weeks, and I look forward to writing all about it! I still will occasionally write for other women’s basketball sites, so if you want to keep up with it, check my Twitter feed or I’ll post the link in this blog.

Thanks and have a wonderful day!!

Peace,

Aneela

San Antonio Stars Preview of the 2014 WNBA Season

The San Antonio Silver Stars are heading into their 2014 season with better hopes of making the playoffs now that both stars Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm are both healthy. They also received a future WNBA star Kayla McBride in the WNBA Draft. Things are looking up for the season unlike last season in which Sophia Young-Malcolm went down with an ACL injury. Then Becky Hammon went down with an ACL injury. It was not a pretty season at all for the Silver Stars who saw season lows in scoring at multiple points (48 points several times), some blowouts and saw another player Riquana Willams of the Tulsa Shock score 50 points on them. In the end, no matter how gritty the played some games, it was not enough to secure a playoff spot. They finished the season with a 15-19 record. One of the bright spots of the Stars 2013 season was Jayne Appel. She was able to increase both her points per game as well as rebounds per game. She played well enough that she signed a new multi year contract with the Stars.

The San Antonio Stars will have expectations of making the playoffs but all of this hinges on three key areas in which they struggled with last season. Their ability to score, their ability to defend and their ability to rebound. They will have no problem with scoring this season with their top players back. They will need to defend and they will need all of their players to do just that if they want to win games against good Western Conference teams. Rebounding has been a sore area for this team for a while and they will need more from other players excluding Jayne Appel who was one of the league’s top rebounders last season.

While Becky Hammon is healthy, she is at a point in her career where she is looking towards retirement and so the impact of Kayla McBride will be sorely needed. Kayla McBride will most surely struggle as all rookies do but she is an important piece to the Stars future and more will be expected from her next season onwards. Last season, Sophia Young-Malcolm made comments that were hurtful to 50% of the league’s fan base and it will be interesting to see how she is treated from other opposing fans as well as Star fans. On the court, Sophia Young-Malcolm will need to have an MVP type season in order to keep the Stars moving towards the playoffs otherwise they will be headed into the lottery. Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams will need to continue their development as they enter their 4th seasons in the league. Both players are important and both players are capable of being WNBA All Stars. If both do not play well, it will not bode well this season for the San Antonio Stars. The veterans, Jia Perkins and Shameka Christon must contribute off the bench as there will be times where they will be sorely needed. Shameka Christon has been struggling for a while now, so if she is not able to contribute, I think it’s safe to say she will not back in 2015. Shenise Johnson will be entering her 3rd year and she like Danielle Robinson and Danielle Adams, will have more expected of her. Her play will also determine whether or not the Stars make the playoffs.

The San Antonio Stars have a good lineup of stars, veterans and young players. If they can all stay healthy, play well together and win close games, they will make the playoffs. Star fans should be excited as this season closely resembles 2012, when the Stars played well in the regular season, even though they lost in the first round of the playoffs. If the cards play out right, this can be a fun season for the San Antonio Stars. The Stars start their season on May 16th when they take on the Atlanta Dream.

Thoughts on the 2014 WNBA season & what to expect from the blog

Hey there!

It’s been a long while since I’ve last updated the blog. I was supposed to do an update last Monday, but got really busy with life. If you didn’t know, I got married in December, so I’ve been pretty busy adjusting to my new life and enjoying being a newlywed. While I was away, I noticed that the San Antonio Silver Stars changed their name to the San Antonio Stars (Personally, I don’t know why, I preferred the Silver Stars) and that the WNBA finally agreed to a new CBA. I also know that this is a big year for the Silver Stars as they are getting ready for a brand new season and a new lottery pick who could be a new star for the franchise considering the fact that Becky Hammon may be gearing up for her final seasons. It will be a fun summer and I am excited that I might have the opportunity to travel to New York this year to watch the San Antonio Stars LIVE this year! I can’t wait and hopefully it can come true so I’m looking forward to that! I’m also glad that the Sparks were able to stay in LA because for a while it looked pretty grim. Things are looking great for the 2014 WNBA season! Tune in!

As for me and my blog, there will be less posts from me. As you can already tell, I’ve stopped doing overseas updates as I can see that the San Antonio Stars are keeping up to date over there. You can check it out on their official website. I will also stop doing pre and post game blog posts and it will only be a weekly update from me. I will still be active on Twitter for live games and I will still keep track of player’s special milestones and news around the league, but there won’t be extensive blog posts from me from now on. I’ve come to the realization that even though I love the WNBA, the awesome players and the San Antonio Stars organization, I can’t keep writing for free anymore. It’s exhausting and I just won’t have the time anymore. It’s been fun last year and now that I’m married, I have other priorities to take care of. If you have read this blog before, I appreciate it and I always respond to great feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2014 WNBA season!

Happy trails! Xx

Aneela

San Antonio Silver Stars WNBA Offseason – Week 4 Overseas Update

The Silver Stars playing overseas continue to be busy as several players are either playing in Euroleague, EuroCup or in both of their domestic leagues. Here is the latest update from the week.

Danielle Adams – Danielle is playing in the Isreali league for Maccabi Ashdod. Her team is 3rd overall with a 3-2 record. On Nov. 20th, Maccabi played Elitzur Ramla a game in which they lost by a final score of 78-52. Danielle had 15 points and 6 rebounds. Maccabi Ashdod bounced back on Nov. 25th with a win against Ramat Hasharon 66 to 59. Danielle had a double double (17 points/11 rebounds). Overall, Danielle Adams is averaging nearly 20 points a game (19.8), 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the domestic league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 28th against Elitzur Neta.

Kayla Alexander – Kayla is playing in the Russian league for Energy Ivanovo. Her team is 5th overall with a 2-3 record. Kayla’s team has not played in any recent game. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against Nadezha Orenburg. Overall, Kayla Alexander is averaging 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a game in the Russian league.

Jayne Appel – Jayne is playing in the Chinese league for Liaoning Hengye. Her team is 7th with an overall record of 1-2. On Nov. 19th, Liaoning lost their first game of the Chinese league against Heilongjiang by a final score of 73 to 69. Jayne had 12 points and 5 rebounds. On Nov. 23rd, Liaoning lost their second game to Shanxi in a close game 76 – 71. Jayne had an impressive double double with 24 points and 20 rebounds. On Nov. 26th, Liaoning won their first game against Shenyang 93 to 72. Unfortunately, the site has not been updated yet to see Jayne Appel’s stats for that game just yet. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against Shandong.

Shameka Christon – Shameka is playing in the French league for Lattes Montpellier. Her team is 2nd overall with an 8-1 record. In the Euroleague, Lattes Montepellier has a record of 2-2. On Nov. 20th against Euroleague opponent Rivas Ecopolis of Spain, Lattes won a close game 58 to 53. Shameka had 15 points.On Nov. 23rd, Lattes Montpellier won against Charlesville 66 to 52. Shameka had 8 points. In another Euroleague game on Nov. 27th, Lattes Montpellier lost against IMOS Brno of Czech Republic in a close game 67 to 64. Shameka had 7 points and 8 rebounds. Overall, Shameka Christon is averaging 11.2 points a game in the French league and 14.3 points and 4 rebounds a game in the Euroleague. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against Arras in the French league.

Chelsea Hopkins – Chelsea is playing in the Isreali league for Bnot Hertzeliya. Her team is 6th overall with a 2-2 record. On Nov. 25th against H.R Le Zion, Bnot Hertzeliya lost 80-72. Chelsea had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Overall, Chelsea is averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in the Isreali league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 28th against Hap Petah Ti.

Shenise Johnson – Shenise is playing in the Turkish league for Istanbul University. Her team is 4th overall with a 6-2 record. In the EuroCup season Istanbul University is 3-0 and on Nov. 21st against Olimpia of Belarus they won 78-49. Shenise had 20 points and 6 assists. In the Turkish league on Nov. 24th against Orduspor they won 79 to 67. Shenise had 16 points and 4 rebounds. Overall in the Turkish league, Shenise is averaging 14 points and 5 rebounds a game. In the Eurocup season, Shenise is averaging nearly 16 points a game (15.7), Her team’s next game is against another EuroCup opponent Spartak N of Russia on Nov. 28th.

Cathrine Kraayeveld – Cathrine is playing in the Polish league for Artego Byd. Her team is 5th overall with a 6-5 record. On Nov. 24th against Riviera Gydn Artego Byd lost in a close game 62-59. Cathrine had 6 points and 7 rebounds. Overall, Cathrine is averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds a game in the Polish league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against MKS Konin.

Chelsea Poppens – Chelsea Poppens is playing in the Australian league for Bulleen Boomers. Her team is 2nd overall with a 7-2 record. On Nov 23rd, Bulleen Boomers lost to Sydney UF 81-73. Chelsea Poppens had 23 points and 16 rebounds. Overall, Chelsea P is averaging nearly 16 points a game (15.8) and 7.3 rebounds per game in the Australian league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against Dandenong Rangers. 

Silver Stars Off season – Weeks 2 and 3 Overseas Updates

The San Antonio Silver Stars have now played at least close to 4 weeks or longer of overseas basketball. Here is the latest update from the San Antonio Silver Stars playing overseas.

Danielle Adams – Danielle had 23 points and 7 rebounds against H.R Le Zion on November 4th in a win. On November 11th, she had quite the big game as she had 29 points and 15 rebounds in the win against Hap Petah Tikvah. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 20th against Elitzur Ramla.

Kayla Alexander – Kayla had 19 points and 9 rebounds against Dynamo GUVD on November 3rd. On November 9th, she had 12 points and 6 rebounds against UMMC.  Kayla did not play in Energy’s recent game against Dynamo Moscow. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 30th against Nadezha Orenburg.

Jayne Appel – The Chinese Basketball Association hasn’t tipped off yet, but Jayne Appel is playing for the Henan Elephants.

Shameka Christon – Shameka Christon had 8 points against Union Hainut on Nov.2nd. On Nov. 6th, Shameka played against Nadezha Orenburg in the team’s first Euroleague game. She had 20 points. Shameka also had 12 points in games against Nantes and Toulouse in the French league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 20th against Rivas Ecopolis.

Chelsea Hopkins – Chelsea had 12 points and 6 assists against Maccabi R. Hen in the Isreali league. On Nov 11th, Chelsea had 18 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds against Elitzur Holon. Her team’s next game is on Nov 25th against H.R Le Zion.

Shenise Johnson – Shenise has been busy playing as she had 11 points and 5 rebounds against Canik Blvd on Nov 3rd. On Nov  7th, Shenise played in her first Euro Cup game of the season against Spartak N and had 11 points. On Nov. 10th, she had 1o points and 7 rebounds against Galatsaray in the Turkish league. On Nov. 14th she played in another Euro Cup game against Dynamo M and had 16 points. On Nov. 17th she had 7 points and 9 rebounds against Ceyhan Blvd. Her team’s next game is on Nov 21st against Olimpia.

Cathrine Kraayeveld – Cathrine had 8 points and 8 rebounds against Gorzow on October 30th. On Nov 2nd against Basket ROW, she had 12 points and 5 rebounds in the Polish league. On November 13th, she had a double double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against Energa Torun. On November 16th, she had 3 points and 5 rebounds against CCC Polkowice. Her team’s next game in the Polish league is on Nov 23rd against Rivieria Gdyn.

Chelsea Poppens – On Nov 1st against West Coast, Chelsea had 23 points and 7 rebounds. On November 9th she had 23 points and 5 rebounds against Adelaide. On Nov 16th she had 13 points and 8 rebounds against Canberra Capitals in the Australian league. Her team’s next game is on Nov. 23rd against Sydney UF.

 

 

 

Silver Stars Off season – Week 1 Overseas Updates

The San Antonio Silver Stars have been finished since the WNBA playoffs began and some of them have headed overseas to play in their respective leagues. Here is the round up on some of the Silver Stars overseas season.

Danielle Adams –  Danielle Adams is playing in Isreal for Maccabi Ashdod. She has currently played one game and had 15 points and 4 assists. Their next game is on Nov. 4th against H.R. Le-Zion.

Kayla AlexanderKayla Alexander is playing in Russia for Energy Ivanovo. She has played two games and is averaging 15.5 points and 6 rebounds. Their next game is on Nov. 3rd against Dynamo GUVD

Jayne Appel – Jayne Appel is headed to China where they haven’t began their season yet. She will most likely play for Henan which is the team she played for last season.

Shameka Christon – Shameka Christon is in France playing for Lattes Montpellier. She has played one game and had 16 points and 3 rebounds. Their next game is on Nov. 2 against Union Hainaut

Becky Hammon – If you watched the WNBA at all this season, even for just a quick glance, you would know that Becky Hammon is recovering from a torn ACL and will not play overseas this season.

Chelsea Hopkins – Chelsea Hopkins, like Danielle Adams is playing in Isreal. Unlike Danielle, Chelsea is playing for Bnot Hertzeliya. She has played one game and had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Their next game is on Nov. 4th against Maccabi R. Hen.

Shenise Johnson – Shenise Johnson is playing in Turkey for Istanbul University. She has played three games and is averaging 19 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game. Their next game is on Nov. 3rd against Canik Blvd.

Catherine Kraayeveld – Catherine Kraayeveld is playing in Poland for Artego Bydgoszcz. She has played three games and and is averaging 15.3 points and nearly 5 rebounds a game. Their next game is on Oct. 30th against Gorzow.

Chelsea Poppens – Chelsea Poppens is playing in Austrailia for Bulleen Boomers. She has played 5 games and is averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds. Their next game is on Nov. 1st against West Coast.

As of right now, Jia Perkins, Danielle Robinson, Davellyn Whyte and Sophia Young are not playing overseas and might either go over in January or just stay in the United States.