The U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team ended its week of Smith Center practices Wednesday night with a medal ceremony. No one could say that these soon-to-be Olympians are leaving anything to chance. It certainly seems likely that practicing such a moment will prove to be time well spent.
Starting Sept. 24, the National Team’s bus sat outside the Smith Center a few hours almost everyday, as the stars inside the Smith Center worked through drills and scrimmaged against former GW players, GW staffers and students.
The National Team is made up of basketball superstars Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Cynthia Cooper, Teresa Edwards, Yolanda Griffith, Chamique Holdsclaw, Lisa Leslie, Nikki McCray, DeLisha Milton, Katie Smith, Dawn Staley, Natalie Williams and Kara Wolters.
After practice Wednesday, the top pick in last year’s WNBA draft and Washington Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw expressed satisfaction at the week’s work.
“Really good practices this week,” she said. “When we didn’t practice real hard, we had slip-ups, and we heard about it.”
Holdsclaw was not overwhelmed by the Smith Center, but had kind things to say.
“Whatever the facilities, you adapt to it,” she said. “You know, when you go overseas, they’re a lot worse than this. This is definitely upper-echelon.”
Holdsclaw was happy that practices were held in her newly adopted hometown.
“I’m in my comfort zone here,” she said. “I get to sleep at home. I just leave my car at the hotel and get on the bus.”
In addition to the women’s stars, the Smith Center welcomed back some familiar male faces for the scrimmage team, including former GW point guard Alvin Pearsall, who from 1990 to 1994 became GW’s all-time assists leader. GW grad Shawnta Rogers broke his record last year.
“It’s been awhile (since I played on this court),” Pearsall said. “I try to get back here. I moved back into the area two years ago. It’s good to be a part of the GW basketball family. I try to come to as many games as I can. I wish the team all the success in the world.”
For Holdsclaw’s part, she saw some of what made Pearsall a star during the early 1990s rebirth of GW basketball.
“It’s great to get the guys in here,” she said. “They’re definitely gonna be faster than you.”
The U.S. Women’s National Team now heads to Hartford, Conn., to play a WNBA all-star team in the Hall of Fame Game Saturday.