Mercury stars Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree are among the campers in Las Vegas for a three-day training session for the US Womens National Team. Head Coach Geno Auriemma's squad hit the court for the first time since winning the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal. After day one of workouts, Auriemma spoke to reporters and shared his thoughts on Taurasi.
By Carl Adamec Journal Inquirer Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:13 AM EDT
Diana Taurasi is just a basketball player again, and that’s all she wants to be.
The 28-year-old former University of Connecticut guard is in Las Vegas this week for a three-day training camp with candidates for the United States national team that will represent the country in next year’s Olympic Games in London. It’s the first time they’ve been together since Team USA won gold at the FIBA world championships in the Czech Republic last October.
Twenty-three players are at the camp being run by national team coach Geno Auriemma of UConn.
“It was a really good first day,” Taurasi said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re working on different combinations and different lineups, seeing what fits and doesn’t fit, what works, and doesn’t work. We got a lot done.
“I was talking to Lindsay Whalen and we did a couple drills and she said, ‘Things are starting to click again.’ We have a good mix of veterans and young players and it’s great to be back on the court.”
There was a time that Taurasi, who is about to start her eighth season with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, feared she might not make it back with Team USA.
Last December, a lab in Turkey claimed she had tested positive for the stimulant modafinil and her contract with the Turkish club Fenerbahce was terminated in January.
Taurasi insisted that she never used performance-enhancing drugs and Auriemma was among those who came to her defense. Her eligibility for London was in doubt as the International Olympic Committee bars any athlete who receives a doping penalty of six months or more from competing in the next games.
But in February, Turkey’s basketball federation lifted Taurasi’s provisional doping suspension after the lab retracted its finding that she tested positive.
“It’s been hectic these past few months and I’m glad that everything’s getting back to normal,” Taurasi said. “I always believed the truth would come out. I’m not a spiritual person, but I do believe in truth and I knew what the truth was.”
After her suspension was announced, Taurasi left Turkey and didn’t return. She spent most of her time in Phoenix and at her parents’ home in Chino, Calif.
She did make it to Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse on April 3 to watch Auriemma’s UConn team face Notre Dame in a NCAA Final Four semifinal. The Huskies’ two-year reign as national champion ended with a 72-63 loss.
Ten years earlier in St. Louis, Taurasi suffered through the worst game of her college career in the same round in a 90-75 loss to the Irish.
“Notre Dame played great,” Taurasi said. “Then I was walking out and their fans were saying, ‘Thanks for coming for the 10-year anniversary of our national championship.’ I think the UConn fans aren’t going to allow me to go to the Final Four anymore.”
With three national championship rings from UConn, two Olympic gold medals, and two WNBA titles to her credit, Husky Nation will probably forgive her.
In Las Vegas, Taurasi is playing alongside Maya Moore, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx.
Taurasi was in a similar position in 2004.
“My advice to her is just to be patient,” Taurasi said. “There are going to be a lot of tough obstacles and it’s not easy being a rookie. But we all know what Maya can do and she just needs to play her own game.”
After leaving Vegas, Taurasi will head to Phoenix for the Mercury camp. She signed a multiyear contract extension with the club last August.
She was the league MVP in 2009 as she sparked the Mercury to the WNBA crown. She led the league in scoring last year at 22.6 points per game, but Phoenix was eliminated in the Western Conference finals by Sue Bird and the eventual champion Seattle Storm.
“We’ve got a lot to prove and I’ve got a lot to prove individually,” Taurasi said. “Last year was very disappointing. We didn’t get things done, like our last playoff game against Seattle, when we had a 20-point lead and we lost. Too many things like that happened.
“But we’ve got a good group coming back and some good, new players coming in and we’re all really excited to get to camp and get going.”
First, though, she’ll have to listen to her former college coach for a few days and there figures to be a few barbs thrown her way.
Taurasi wouldn’t have it any other way and she couldn’t be happier.
“I’m a basketball player,” she said. “This is what I was born and raised to do.”
And it’s all she wants to be.
Be thankful for what you HAVE before it becomes what you HAD! NEVER SAY NEVER!
Сообщение отредактировал AlienF - Вторник, 17 Мая 2011, 22:41
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury open camp refreshed
Team is rested and ready as training camp gets under way
She bounced around the court, her feet as light as the smile that never left her face.
Phoenix Mercury 2011
For the first time in more than four months, Diana Taurasi was on a basketball court with a professional team, doing the thing she loves most.
"I feel like a kid again," said Taurasi after the Mercury's first training-camp practice Monday.
Taurasi has not played or practiced with a professional team since her suspension from a women's pro league in Turkey in December following doping allegations. Her contract with her Turkish team was terminated in January.
Taurasi, who participated in a three-day training camp with USA Basketball this month, was cleared of all charges in February and has signed a contract with a different Turkish team for next winter's season.
"I think every chapter of your life gives you something," she said, choosing to elaborate on the Turkey issue at a later time, "and it's given me a little extra boost.
"Like anything, in any profession, in any job, you get overwhelmed, overworked. I think I hit that point a long time ago."
Taurasi had played non-stop since she graduated from Connecticut in 2004, playing in both the WNBA and European pro leagues as well as with the U.S. national team in various competitions such as the Olympics and the world championships.
Last year, Taurasi talked about taking a break from basketball, most likely at the start of a WNBA season, in the near future because of her relentless playing schedule over the years.
But now she has come into the Mercury's training camp with a break that was not scheduled and a drive to win that has not wavered.
"I've been working out for the last two, three months, hard," Taurasi said. "So I haven't just sat around, because, you know, that would have drove me crazy."
Taurasi is not the only Mercury player with fresh legs. The rest of the team's key players took some time off after finishing their seasons in Europe. And every player on the Mercury's roster was present at their first practice of the season for the first time since 2009, when the Mercury last won a WNBA championship. Only starting point guard Temeka Johnson, who had yet to take her physical, did not participate.
"I was shocked," Mercury coach Corey Gaines said after Monday's practice. "I had to make adjustments in practice to make it harder.
"I notice right now how they're playing, they're fresh."
ДТ сейчас просто баскетбольный игрок, и это все , кем она хочет быть.
28-летний бывший защитник Коннектикута на этой неделе находится в Лас Вегасе на 3-х дневных сборах с кандидатами в национальную сборную, которая будет представлять страну на следующих олимпийских играх в Лондоне. Они собрались впервые после того, как выиграли ЧМ в Чехии в октябре. В лагере 23 игрока , под руководством Джино Ауреммы. "Был действительно хороший первый день"-в интервью по телефону сказала Таурази во вторник. " Мы работаем над различными комбинациями, различным состаавом, смотрим ,что подходит, что -нет , что работает , что не работает. Мы много сделали " Я разговаривала с Линсдей Уолен и мы сделали пару тренировок. И она сказала -" все начинает вставать на свои места". У нас хорошая смесь ветеранов и молодых игроков и это здорово быть опять на площадке." Было время , когда Таурази , которая начинает свой 8-ой сезон в Меркьюри,боялась , что не вернется в сборную. В прошлом декабре турецкая лаборатория объявила о положительной пробе допинга , и в январе был прерван контракт с Фенером. Таурази утверждала , что не принимала допинг . И Ауремма был из тех , кто встал на ее защиту. Ее право на участие в ОИ в Лондоне было под сомнением , потому что МОК накладывает бан от 6 месяцев и более на любого спортсмена , употребившего допинг. Но в феврале Турецкая баскетбольная федерация отменила решение после того, как лаборатория отказалась от своих обвинений. " Были лихорадочными эти последние несколько месяцев, и я рада ,что все возвращается в обычное русло."- сказала Таурази, "Я всегда верила , что правда выйдет на поверхность. Я не являюсь человеком верующим (в Бога), но я верю в правду и я знаю правду." После провозглашения о ее отстранении от игр Таурази покинула Турцию и туда не возвращалась. Она проводила большую часть своего времени в Финиксе и в доме своих родителей в Чино, Калифорния. Она была на игре Юкона с Нотр Даммом 3 апреля на полуфинале финала 4-х NCAA . Хаски, господствовавшие 2 года в нац. чемпионате проиграли. 10 лет назад в Сент Луисе Таурази пережила худшую игру в своей колледжской карьере на этой же самой стадии , проиграв Irish. Нотр Дамм играл великолепно, -сказала Таурази, -потом , когда я уходила , их болельщики сказали -"спасибо, что пришли на 10-летний юбилей чемпионата" Я думаю , что фанаты Юкона больше не позволят мне ехать на финал 4-х когда-либо" С тремя национальными чемпионствами , 2 олимпийскими золотыми медалями и двумя титулами WNBA на ее счету, Хаски нейшн вероятно простят ее. В Лас Вегасе Таурази играла параллельно с Майей Мур , 1 номер драфта. В 2004 она была в такой же ситуации. " Мой совет Ей (Мур) -набраться терпения,будет множество препятствий , и это нелегко-быть новичком. Но мы все знаем ,что Майя может сделать и она просто должна играть в свою игру." После Вегаса Таурази направится в Финикс, в тренировочный лагерь Меркьюри. Прошлым августом она подписала многолетний контракт с клубом. Она была МВП лиги в 2009 , и воодушевила Меркьюри на победу в ВНБА. Она лидировала в лиге по очкам за игру, но Феникс был выбит из игры в финале западной коференции Сью Берд с будущим чемпионом Seattle Storm . "Мы должны многое улучшить и я должна индивидуально многое улучшить", -сказала Таурази. "В прошлом году было очень обидно.Мы не сделали дело , в последней игре плейофф с Сиетлом, когда вели 20 очков и проиграли. Много подобных вещей случилось" "Но мы имеем хорошую группу игроков , которые возвращаются иЧто хорошо к нам приходят новые игроки. И мы все действительно рады собраться в лагере и -вперед!" Хотя, первое она должна слушать своего тренера из колледжа эти несколько дней ,и там подумать о тех"шипах ,"попавшихся на ее пути. Таурази не могла бы иметь другого пути, она не была бы более счастлива. "Я-баскетболистка, -она говорит,-Это то, для чего я рождена. И это все-кем она хочет быть
Be thankful for what you HAVE before it becomes what you HAD! NEVER SAY NEVER!
Сообщение отредактировал AlienF - Суббота, 21 Мая 2011, 22:49
Диана Таурази и Phoenix Mercury открывают лагерь отдохнувшими
Команда отдохнула и готова к тренировочному лагерю . Она подпрыгивала вокруг площадки , ее ноги как огонь, улыбка, которая никогда не покидает ее лицо. Phoenix Mercury 2011 Первый раз за более чем 4 месяца Диана Таурази была на баскетбольной площадке с профессиональной командой , делая то ,что она любит больше всего. «Я чувствую себя снова ребенком», - сказала Таурази после первого занятия в тренировочном лагере Меркьюри в понедельник. Таурази не играла и не тренировалась с профессиональной командой со времени ее отстранения Турецкой лигой в декабре, которое последовало после допинговых обвинений. Ее контракт с турецкой командой был прерван в Январе. Таурази, которая участвовала в трехдневном тренировочном лагере сборной в этом месяце, была «очищена» от всех обвинений в феврале и подписала контракт с другой турецкой командой на следующий зимний сезон. «Я думаю каждый период вашей жизни дает вам что-то»- говорит она, предпочтя более детально разобраться в турецком вопросе позже,-«Это даст мне дополнительный импульс» « Как везде, в любой профессии, в любой работе вы бываете перегружены, перерабатываете. Я думаю, я давно достигла этой точки.» Таурази играла без перерыва с того времени, как закончила колледж в Коннектикуте в 2004 году, играла как в WNBA так и в Европейских лигах. А также за национальную сборную на различных соревнованиях, таких как ОИ и ЧЕ. В прошлом году Таурази говорила о том, чтобы взять перерыв в игре , скорее всего в начале сезона WNBA, в ближайшем будущем, из-за ее жесткого игрового графика на протяжении многих лет. Но сейчас она пришла в тренировочный лагерь Меркьюри после перерыва, который не был запланирован, и с желанием победить без всяких колебаний. «Последние два-три месяца я напряженно работала»-, сказала Таурази. « так что я не просто рассиживалась без дела, иначе это могло бы свести меня с ума.» Таурази не единственный «свежий» игрок в Меркьюри. Остальные ключевые игроки команды получили некоторое время на отдых после завершения их сезона в Европе. И впервые с 2009 года, когда Меркьюри выиграл чемпионат ВНБА , все игроки ростера присутствовали на их первой тренировке в сезоне. Только Тамика Джонсон , которая еще не в форме, не участвовала. «Я был в шоке, -сказал тренер Corey Gaines после тренировки в понедельник, - Я должен был внести коррективы в тренировку , чтобы сделать ее труднее.» «Я заметил только сейчас, как они играют, насколько они свежы.»
Be thankful for what you HAVE before it becomes what you HAD! NEVER SAY NEVER!
WADA наказала лабораторию, оскандалившуюся с "делом Таурази"
Всемирное антидопинговое агентство (WADA) лишило аккредитации турецкую лабораторию, оскандалившуюся в истории с дисквалификацией защитницы "Фенербахче" и сборной США Дайаны Таурази. Теперь допинговый центр в Анкаре шесть месяцев не сможет заниматься деятельностью для WADA. Напомним, в 2010 году в анализах одной из лучших баскетболисток мира был ошибочно обнаружен запрещенный препарат модафинил. А после объявления информации о допинге в крови Таурази стамбульский клуб сразу же разорвал с ней контракт.
Любопытно, что лабаратория в Анкаре уже однажды временно лишалась лицензии – в 2009 году за несоответствие международным стандартам.
Originally Published: June 3, 2011 Diana Taurasi rested, ready to move on Seattle's Sue Bird expects Mercury star "to have fun" this season
By Mechelle Voepel ESPN.com Archive
Several years ago, I happened to be talking to a college player who mentioned she had crossed paths with Diana Taurasi at a summer camp. She was a good player, but not of Taurasi's caliber, and as she entered a pickup game with the UConn superstar, she was a little nervous. Taurasi was still in college, but well on her way to a WNBA career in which she has also been a luminous standout. And the player thought, "This is Diana Taurasi. She's never seen me before. She's not going to pass to me. She's not going to say anything to me."
But instead, Taurasi passed to her almost immediately, encouraging her just like she did the rest of this makeshift team.
"It was cool," the player said, "because she treated everybody the same. She was setting people up for shots, talking to everybody, including everybody. Just having a really good time with all of us, not acting like she was a big star or anything. I didn't know she'd be like that."
Taurasi talks trash in games, she's a fierce competitor, she will get any edge on an opponent that she can … but she also just adores playing basketball no matter what the stakes are.
No one would get to the WNBA without loving to play. But you figure for most players, at least some aspects of the sport can be drudgery on certain days. However, it doesn't seem that way for Taurasi, who is about to begin her eighth season with the Phoenix Mercury. She relaxes from playing basketball by … playing basketball. She's like a commercial pilot who wants to spend a vacation flying around in her own plane. Taurasi might take real downtime briefly and enjoy it, but she's never away from a gym and a basketball for very long. In the last two years, though, she has been involved in situations that separated her, at least for a time, from her sport.
The first she readily takes all responsibility for, the DUI charge in July 2009 that resulted in a two-game suspension and made her recognize fully how costly a lapse in judgment can be. Nobody was harder on Taurasi about that than she was on herself.
But in the second situation, this past winter in Turkey, Taurasi had done nothing wrong. She was in a group of athletes victimized by faulty lab results. Taurasi was the big name in the bunch, and the botched results indicating that she had tested positive for the stimulant modafinal were leaked. Thus began the speculation about whether she would receive a suspension and how that might keep her off the 2012 Olympic team.
Her Turkish club team, Fenerbahce, ended her contract as she was given a temporary ban imposed by the Turkish Basketball Federation. Taurasi came back to the United States, and although she was cleared of all doping allegations in February, she didn't return to play overseas. "I didn't know what to think, what to feel," Taurasi said in describing the feelings she went through as she waited to be exonerated. "Your voice and your truth seem to not have any validity at that point."
Three-and-a-half months have passed since Taurasi was exonerated. She has been preparing for a push to stop rival Seattle from repeating as WNBA champion -- instead, she wants a third title for herself and the Mercury.
She attended a USA Basketball training camp -- her place with the national team no longer in any jeopardy -- in Las Vegas last month.
She has talked a lot about the frustration that her livelihood, her passion and her reputation were put at risk because of a mistake. The lab has had its accreditation suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Taurasi will go back to Turkey next winter and play for a different club, Galatasaray.
And she really should not have to talk about all this much more. She was the wronged party. After the understandable preseason review of what happened, there is no reason to continue linking her to an offense she never committed.
But it is noteworthy to mention the "good" (from her standpoint) that happened inadvertently. Taurasi got a break from competition that she wasn't looking for, but by the same token probably needed. She spoke last year during the WNBA season about the possibility of taking time off, but clearly couldn't have anticipated that she'd be forced to do that.
To a degree, the time away from games this winter might keep her fresher this summer … not that Taurasi has ever seemed to lack much energy in the WNBA. "I think the rest of us are just praying that she's rusty," joked Seattle guard Sue Bird, Taurasi's close friend and former UConn teammate. "A tired Diana averages 25 points. What's a fresh, rested, hungry Diana going to average? I don't want to think about it.
"She loves basketball, that's the bottom line throughout this whole thing. First one in the gym, last to leave, always working on her game. There's a reason why she's as great as she is. That was taken away from her, and it was a crappy situation. One that really … gosh, 'depressed' is such a strong word, so I don't want to say that. But it was a situation that put her in a bad place. Not to mention that people were questioning her and saying things."
But the support never wavered from her friends like Bird and Phoenix teammate Penny Taylor, family members, UConn coach Geno Auriemma and the Mercury staff, and many fans. Taurasi said the test had to be wrong, and they believed her.
Phoenix coach Corey Gaines has the highest expectations for Taurasi all the time, because he's used to seeing what she does every day of the WNBA season. He thinks Taurasi, who turns 29 this month, is probably particularly ready for a big 2011.
"Her training camp, we started her off slow because she hadn't played in Europe," Gaines said. "We didn't want to do too much, too fast. She's looking good; she's rested. For my team, the way we play, it's important for the players to be rested.
"She's won us two championships, and physically it is hard on her. She's going hard every second of the game, in Europe and in the WNBA. Sometimes incidents happen in your life, mishaps -- that might have helped her. Maybe it helped her get a new desire to play, a new motivation. She's really ready to play."
Bird knows Taurasi better than any fellow WNBA competitor does, and she foresees a splendid summer for her.
"She's got basketball back, and more than anything, she's going to have fun," Bird said. "And for her opponents, nothing is more dangerous than Diana having fun playing basketball. Having fun for her is dropping 40 points on people and winning championships."
By Les Carpenter, Yahoo! Sports Jun 3, 12:20 am ED
It is impossible to watch Diana Taurasi, the best player in the WNBA, probably the best women’s player in the world, and not feel the fire burning through your television. Few women – heck, few men – play with what seems like an intense, pulsing glow radiating across the court.
It is also impossible for Diana Taurasi to turn off her fervor. There is no switch, nothing to trip her mind, to tell her basketball is over for the day and it is time to settle down. Instead the pulsing continues. Did she have a good practice? Was she productive? Will she be productive tomorrow?
Will she win? She must always win.
“I think about it 24 hours a day,” she says. “I feel like Bobby Fischer a little bit.”
For all those who mock the WNBA, who think the league that begins its 15th season Friday lacks the seriousness of the NBA, perhaps they have never watched the guard from the Phoenix Mercury, never seen her take charge of a night, careening through the lane to score basket after basket when her teams needs them most.
Every day there is someone to sway – a coach, a teammate an opponent – even after they’ve all acknowledged that she’s probably the best ever. Their affirmations aren’t enough. She has to show them, show herself, tell them the extra 20 minutes of lifting weights, the extra jump shots, the running was worth it, that somehow in the day she is making herself or someone better. Slowing is so hard.
Only this winter she had to stop. The Turkish team for whom she was playing last winter dropped her after she tested positive for a mild stimulant called modafinil. She vehemently denied the allegations, even taking a polygraph test to establish her innocence. Her protestations were so strong, the Mercury’s general manager, Ann Meyers-Drysdale (who was something of the Taurasi of her day), believed her player immediately. Perhaps a part of Taurasi’s intensity is the fact she had never lied to the team in the past, and it seemed hard to believe she would now.
It was only after Taurasi returned to the United States that word came down: The testing company had made a mistake. There had been no positive test. There hadn’t been a stimulant. As if she needed anything more to drive her on the court. This week, the World Anti Doping Agency suspended accreditation for the testing company for six months, as much a validation that Taurasi was telling the truth as any.
But her banishment from the Turkish team also brought a strange but welcome benefit. It prompted her to relax.
She never had time away from basketball before. While playing at the University of Connecticut, there were always summer teams, national teams, tournaments in which to play. Her first four years in the WNBA she’d play the summer-fall league season in the U.S. and then go to Russia to play professionally through the winter and early spring. Add in the Olympics and World Championships and she was exhausted.
Meyers-Drysdale remembers Taurasi’s former college coach Geno Auriemma, who was also coach of the national team last summer, lamenting at the World Championships that Taurasi was there in body but her mind was drained. By missing the rest of the Turkish season, Taurasi could rest.
“Actually, they did her a favor,” Meyers-Drysdale says.
The general manager pauses to consider the notion, then adds, “You know she’s never been healthy since she’s been in the WNBA?”
Now she is.
Where do you go when you’ve won nine championships between college, the WNBA and overseas? You keep pushing.
“To me, it’s like Bill Russell, you sustain it,” Meyers-Drysdale says.
There was a time Taurasi did not like the attention. This came early at Connecticut, one of those rare places where women’s basketball players are festooned with the kind of acclaim most men at even big college basketball schools aren’t. The interviews kept coming. Day after day. The words repeating in her mind. She began dreaming she was doing interviews, sitting up in bed, tying her hair in a bun – as she often did when talking to the media – and prepared for the onslaught of questions until she realized it was nighttime and there was no interview and she could go back to sleep.
Eventually grew out of his and came to dominate women’s college basketball. Twice she was the college player of the year and led UConn to three national titles. For seven years she’s essentially been the face of the WNBA, its best player, the one who generates its few highlights on the nightly roundups, who seizes the games down five with two minutes left, attacking, attacking, attacking until Phoenix finally wins.
This has made her an MVP. This has won her two titles with the Mercury. This has left Auriemma to laugh at the silliness of the question when asked who in the armada of stars who played for him was best. Taurasi.
But there was a price to pay; a heavy one when she was arrested in 2009 and charged by Phoenix police with an “extreme DUI” after she tested with a blood alcohol content of .17, more than twice the legal limit. She later pleaded guilty to a DUI and served a day in jail. A lesser player in the league probably would have avoided the public shame, yet since arrests are a rare thing in the WNBA and Taurasi was the league’s best player, the words “extreme DUI” hummed across the news wires. It was an embarrassment for a league trying to hard to grow.
And yet it was something else too.
“She woke up,” Meyers-Drysdale says. “She made it a positive. She turned her life around.”
Asked exactly what this meant, Meyers_Drysdale replies: “It got her life back. In how she lived away from the game.”
A lot has happened to Taurasi in the last two years. In addition to the DUI and the issue in Turkey, there was also the 2009 murder of Shabtai Kalmanovitch, owner of the Russian team Spartak Moscow for which she played four years after the WNBA season was finished. She was close to Kalmanovitch’s family, Meyers-Drysdale says.
Suddenly Taurasi, who faced so little adversity, for whom everything came easy and as a result was probably given great leeway in return, was forced to grow up a bit. This is never easy. But she began to find peace in simpler things. Once she would have raced home from practice to sit on the couch and text and tweet and email as many friends as possible, surrounding herself with a close but invisible cocoon of safe faces. Since the arrest and the stimulant test, she puts the phone and computer away, ignoring the social media she once craved.
Last year she posed nude on the cover of a national sports magazine. She did not want to do it. It was a lot of control to relinquish. Her agent asked her four times before she agreed and even then she only did so because the agent said it would be a good thing for her to do. It was only after the magazine came out and she saw the photos that she was glad she did the photo shoot.
“As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to relax a little more,” she says, insisting she is serious. “I can sit on the couch now and read a magazine or sit on the couch and have a cup of coffee.”
Which is about as much as the most intense player in the WNBA can possibly let go.
Be thankful for what you HAVE before it becomes what you HAD! NEVER SAY NEVER!