Houston Roundball Review: Women's Hoops

This is The Houston Roundball Review's (www.TheHRR.com) blog to discuss women's basketball. The HRR began in 1994 and has been media credentialed to cover college and pro hoops since 1997. Member of the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Maudess Fulton is Back

Averaging 5.8 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game plus shooting an icy 34.8% from the field plus 62.2% from the foul line are not impressive numbers for a player expected to make a major contribution to a team's success. Comparing those numbers to these numbers -- Played in all 33 games, starting 25... Scored a career and game high 19 points against Baylor Nov. 30... Double figures in points in 11 games... Grabbed six rebounds on Nov. 26 vs. Auburn... Dished out a season-best five assists against Kent State Dec. 4 -- seems like I'm describing two completely different players.

Not at all. Meet Rice Owls wing player Maudess Fulton. The first set of numbers Maudess produced last season while the better set of numbers were from Maudess two seasons ago. What happened? Let her tell you.

"I'm in my fourth year; however, I redshirted; so, I'm using my third year of eligibility."

For those who don't know, why are you using the redshirt?

"Oh, because I tore my ACL in my left knee the beginning of my sophomore year; but, it's doing much better now. No brace. No brace."

If you don't mind, I'm going to take you back to the injury. Tell me what happened.

"Well, it was actually an exhibition game; and, I was going up for a lay-up -- a left-hand lay-up -- and something happened while I was in the air. Something crazy happened to my leg; and, I just fell. And that was all she wrote. It was a long process to come back; but, I'm doing much better now."

A lot of players, when they've torn their ACL, have said they heard "a pop". Did you hear that "pop"?

"I didn't hear a pop."

What did you think was wrong with your leg when it happened?

"Actually, I thought I could play again; but, it didn't work out like that. The trainer told me, " 'No we're going to have to check it.' " Then, they said that I tore my ACL; and, I really didn't even know what that meant because I've never really been seriously injured before. I realized soon, though, that I would be out for a whole year."

Last season, you played with a brace on the knee. What was that like?

"I got used to the brace; but, it was always constricting. It always felt heavy; and, I feel so free without it now. I feel so much better. I'm glad to be rid of the brace."

Many people who follow basketball believe it usually takes two years for a player to recover fully from an ACL injury to return to being the player they were before the injury. Do you agree with that belief?

"I do. Last year, I thought that I was myself; but, this year, the second year, I know for sure I'm playing like I did before the injury. I agree with that. Two years is a good amount of time. I really feel like I'm healthy again."

Are you going to be playing with anything on your left knee this season?

"No! I am done! The doctor told me I can get rid of that brace; so, I'm done."

Where is the brace?

"It is in my room, under my luggage, somewhere."

So, you kept it? You're not going to throw it away?

"I just threw it in the corner; and, I forgot about it. I could throw it away; but, I believe the trainer told me not to throw it away; so, I'll think I'll hold onto it."

For the people who haven't seen you play, describe your game.

"I guess you could say I'm a slasher. I like to create off the dribble. I like pull up jumpers. I think I'm a versatile player. I play defense. I like defense. That's pretty much it."

What parts of your game would you like to improve?

"I think I can improve my shooting percentages. I was want to be as accurate as possible. Definitely my three-point shooting and just catch-and-shoot. I like coming off the dribble a lot; so, maybe more catch-and-shoot and three-point shooting."

Which state were you were born and why did you decide to attend Rice University?

"I was born in New Jersey. I chose Rice because the coaching staff was one of the ones that recruited me heavily. I pretty much went with the team that showed me the most interest. When I came on my visit to Rice, I had no idea who they were; but, just the atmosphere and the way the coaches and the team treated me drew me in. When I went on other visits, I didn't feel the same type of atmosphere; so, I really went with how I felt about the team and the players."

What other schools recruited you?

My only other visit was Ohio State. I had a lot of letters; but, for some odd reason, I narrowed my choices down pretty quickly to those two schools."

Wow! That's a big difference. Ohio State is a Big Ten powerhouse; a known school and Rice is a Conference USA sort of middle-of-the-pack program. Why Rice?

"Honestly, I wasn't thinking which school would give me more tv time. I was thinking 'This is where I'm going to spend the next four years of my life and I'm going to be developing as a person; and, I want to be around people who have a genuine interest in me.' Not to say that Ohio State wouldn't have; but, I just felt Rice was more of a family. I wasn't interested in how many tv appearances I was going to have or 'are we going to make it this far in the tournament'. I believe any team can be successful; but, I was just more interested in a team atmosphere."

What did you do this summer?

"This summer I, basically, just worked out. I did a lot of running. I did a lot of open gym playing with guys which helped me get my quickness and my speed back. Also, I lifted weights to get stronger."

Guys. Does that mean you worked out with John Lucas or you worked with other guys?

"No. Actually, I went home to New Jersey. I played at the Y. I played pick up games. When guys don't know who you are, they don't take it easy on you; so, they play hard and they don't want a girl to embarrass them. I played against some really good guys; and, they pushed me to get back to where I wanted to be."

Expound on the difference between playing against guys and playing against girls.

"It's a big difference. Guys are so much stronger and so much faster which requires you, as a defender, to move your feet that much faster; and, when you make your moves, they have to be sharp and quick. You can't dilly-dally because guys will definitely take advantage of you. It's just a different level and a different speed to the game; and, playing against the guys helped me to get my speed and quickness back."

Do you have a favorite basketball player?

"Girls or guys?"

Both.

"Well, Cynthia Cooper was my favorite women's player. Of course, she's retired now; but, she still is my favorite player. Guys...I like Allen Iverson."

That's an interesting duo. Why Cynthia Cooper?

"Her game was so smooth to me. She could do it all. She could shoot the three. She could drive in the lane. She won. She made her team win. I like all those facets about her."

And, Allen Iverson? Please don't tell me it's because of his eyes or because you think he's cute.

"Well, that, too; but, since I'm from Jersey and Philadelphia is like 30 minutes away; so, I always saw him on tv and his game is great. He was an easy person to like."

Have you thought about the fact Rice is going to play Prairie View (December 28 at PV) this season which means you'll be facing your idol Cynthia Cooper?

"That's right! I forgot! I didn't even put that together. She's only been there like two years or so. I didn't even think about that. That didn't even cross my mind."

Well, what are your initial thoughts right now?

"My initial thoughts are I'm going to be a little star-struck. I'm going to have to shut it down until after the game; and, hopefully, we'll win so after the game I can walk up to her and say, " 'Oh, Cynthia Cooper!' " But, I'll try not to be star-struck during the game. I'll be very excited to meet her. Definitely!"

How has open gym gone so far this month?

"It's going pretty good. I think we're going to be better than people expect us to be. I know we're young; but, we have some players with experience and they've shown the younger players leadership. I think our young people are getting into the swing of things. We're going to be good."

Do you follow the WNBA?

"I do. I do. I don't want every single game. I know who's on what team; and, I watched the championship. It was good, too."

Do you hope to play in the WNBA after your Rice career?

"If the opportunity was awarded me, yes; but, there are other things that I'm interested in like working in the retail field. I'm interested in being a retail buyer. That's one of my goals; and, you don't get to do those things when you play basketball. It would be interesting to pursue other passions of mine."

Does that mean you don't want to play basketball as professional?

"No, I would play if I were given the opportunity."

Overseas?

"Possibly. I haven't really thought it about much to tell you the truth."

Is that because you have two years of basketball left at Rice -- this year and next year?

"Exactly. I'm preparing to get a job; but, if I did have a chance to play professionally, I definitely would give it some consideration."

Any thoughts about playing your home games at another place (Houston Baptist University's Sharp Gym) this season?

"It will be interesting; but, I believe, as a team, if we don't let that distract us -- having to play so few games at home -- I think we'll be fine."

What do you expect from the team this season?

"I expect big things. I really do. The older players are dedicated to us being good. I think we're going to be good. We have players who are ready to step up."

Meaning a trip to the NCAA Tournament?

"Yeah. I think we have a shot."
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Swoopes Recovering from Back Surgery

The handful of people who remain paid HRR members knew Sheryl Swoopes was still bothered by injury a short while ago; but, this news from the Comets' organization really confirms it:

Houston Comets forward and four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes had surgery on September 26 to remove the disc between her third and fourth lumbar vertebrae. She is currently recuperating in the Dallas, TX area and her outlook is good.

Swoopes was previously evaluated for a bulging disc in her lower back – an injury that sidelined her for all but the first three Comets games of the 2007 WNBA season.
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Owls' Berezhynska Ready

Many women's college basketball fans may not know Valeriya Berezhynska; however, I urge you to get to know Val this season. Val, 6'4, will be a senior center for the Rice Owls in 2007 - 2008. In my opinion, Val should be one of the top players in Conference USA this season; and, her skill level is good enough for her to become one of the best post players in women's college hoops in 2007 - 2008. I'm talking about her averaging a double - double (maybe 18 and 12 -- points and rebounds) this season. The potential is there; but, it's up to Val to produce on the court. Val told me she's ready to dominate this season.

"I stayed here the whole summer. Lifted (weights). I worked out on my own. I tried new stuff -- yoga; training in the pool; working out with (John) Lucas and Orlando Woolridge; and doing stuff on my own. That was pretty much the whole summer. Plus, I went to summer school. I took three (hours) in May and six (hours) in June, July."

How difficult was it to work out and go to school?

"It wasn't that bad. In May, it wasn't that hard at all because I only had one class. In June and July, I had night classes. I worked out from 7 in the morning to noon; then, I had work; then class. I had two jobs, too."

What is motivating you to work so hard?

"Because Rice is a smaller school known for academics and our level of competition isn't necessarily top level, I feel we don't get the opportunity to be challenged every time we play; so, in order to get better and get to the next level I had to work out and play against the guys. Plus, last summer, I went 1 on 1 against DeMya Walker (forward for the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA); and, I was trying to post her up and I could not move her. I ended up posting up at the free throw line. She had just had her baby; and, I felt so bad because "this pregnant lady is just pushing me around". After that session, I decided it was time for me to start lifting weights. I have not missed a day of weight lifting since. I love to play basketball; so, I want to be the best I can be."

How did you hook up with Coach John Lucas (former NBA player and NBA head coach)?

"One of my teammates used to work out with Lucas; so, that's how I met him. He told me I could come work out with him. Ever since then, I've been working out with him."

What were those sessions like because Luke is a tough guy; and, he doesn't mess around; so, what was that like?

"It was quite different; but, I liked it. I didn't mind the yelling because I knew he would get me better. Plus, I knew playing guys that are bigger and stronger than me would get me better. It was an opportunity that not everybody gets; so, I had to do what I had to do and make the best out of it."

Did the guys treat you differently? Did they respect your going against them this summer?

"I believe they always tried to take it easy against me at first; but, after I scored on them, they got yelled at so they toughened up. But, then nobody played me extra hard because if I did score on them when they're playing extra hard then they'll look really bad.

However, when I played against 'Big Baby' (Glen Davis from LSU, now a rookie with the Boston Celtics), he told me I would not get the ball at all; and, I pretty much didn't."

What help did you get from Orlando Woolridge?

"He was in charge of working with the post players at Lucas' sessions; but, after those sessions finished, he (Woolridge) called me and told he was working out at Brentwood Baptist Church's gym and he told me I was welcome to come there and work out."

Have you noticed a difference in yourself after all of these workouts?

"I haven't had a chance to play against other girls; so, I couldn't tell you."

Have you seen a difference in your body?

"I feel like I've gotten stronger. It's easier for me to establish my position near the basket; but, I still feel like we haven't had enough different competitions in the open gyms. I think I've gotten better; but, I haven't proven it to myself, yet, (because the season hasn't started)."

What do you think you do well?

"I think I'm a lot better under the basket. Going up; fighting for the ball; and going for more offensive rebounds. Everything down low is better. My shot, my mid-range shot, has gotten better, too. I think that's what I've improved the most."

"One of my main goals this year is to avoid foul trouble because we have a very young team and Emery (Carter) is still not full speed (after tearing her ACL last season); so, it's going to be really hard this year. We can't afford to get into foul trouble or get anyone else hurt out of the starters -- especially in the post. So, staying out of foul trouble is definitely a main focus for me this year."

Well, you're a senior this season and the main post option; so, have you thought about what your role on the team is going to be this year?

"Definitely. I want to be a better role model for the freshmen and everybody younger on the team. I remember when I was a freshman and I looked up to Michelle (Michelle Woods); Lauren (Lauren Neaves); and Annie (Anne Peck) and whatever they did I had to do. I want to make sure the freshmen follow my example and get something out of basketball as well as off the court, too."

What are your expectations for yourself this season or is all about winning for you?

"Winning is my main concern. Of course, I'd like people to see improvement in my game; but, I want to win. Having a double-double average would be nice; but, I'd like to average more minutes. I know Coach (Greg Williams) will play me more minutes; but, it's about me not fouling out of games."

"I just want to win conference (Conference USA) and have a great season and do something with myself afterwards."

How good can the team be this season?

"Our team can go far. I'm expecting nothing less than a conference championship. We've been so close every year it's frustrating to not win it. But, if everybody stays healthy -- I just hope nobody gets hurt -- we can accomplish what we set out to accomplish which is to win a conference tournament championship. Injuries have really hurt us in the past."

What would you like to do after Rice?

"Play basketball. Ideally, I'd like to play basketball in the States with Kadie (senior point guard Kadie Riverin) on the same team. She's my favorite point guard that I've ever played basketball with. We have developed a great bond on the court since we've been at Rice. We know what to expect from each other."

Kadie told me she believed you're "going to dominate everybody" this season. What are your thoughts on that comment from her?

"I'm ready. I'm ready. There's no question about it. We'll see when the season comes."
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Monday, September 24, 2007

USA on NBATV Live

Though I don't have NBATV, this is good news for women's basketball fans:

Fans will be able to catch all the
2007 USA Basketball Women's FIBA Americas Championship Team action live on NBA TV during the Sept. 26-30 Olympic qualifier, played in Valdivia, Chile.

The USA opens against Cuba on Sept. 26 at 3:00 p.m. (all times CDT), followed by a 12:30 p.m. tip-off against Jamaica on Sept. 27 and closes preliminary round play against Canada on Sept. 28 at 3:00 p.m.. The top two teams in preliminary Group A, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, and Group B advance to the Sept. 29 medal semifinals (3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.), both of which will air on NBATV. The gold medal and the right to play in the 2008 Olympics, will be contested Sept. 30 at 3:00 p.m.
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Ags Named Preseason Top 10

Here's yet another reason while I'll cover the Texas A&M Aggies as much as I possibly can in 2007 - 2008:

Texas A&M Earns Top 10 Billing

The link includes the rankings of the three polls, too.

Preseason polls are out which means college basketball season is almost here.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

16 sites for 1st and 2nd Rounds

Friday afternoon, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee announced that beginning in 2009, the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship will feature 16 pre-determined first- and second-round sites with four teams assigned to each in order to enhance the student-athlete experience and attendance.

The committee will solicit bids and select eight additional first- and second-round sites for both the 2009 and 2010 championships.


(Memo from The HRR to the city of Houston, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority; UH and Rice athletics -- make a bid.)

The committee also revised the bracketing principles to provide more flexibility to assign teams to sites in closer geographic proximity. The revision eliminated the principle that stated “the first three teams must be separated from a conference,” but maintained that conference teams will not meet until the regional final game. All other principles will be applied while placing teams in the bracket.

“The Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is committed to the growth of the game and the championship,” said Judy Southard, senior associate director of athletics at Louisiana State University and chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. “We will continue to work with membership groups to assess, identify and provide answers to our future growth initiatives. All of these changes will help tremendously in this regard. ”

2009 dates and sites (as of 9/21/07)

2010 dates and sites (as of 9/21/07)
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Snow to Have Foot Surgery

Off-season news from the Houston Comets:

Houston Comets center Michelle Snow will undergo surgery on her left great toe tomorrow morning at the Roger Clemens Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Memorial Hermann. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tom Clanton will perform the surgery.

During the procedure, Dr. Clanton will use an arthroscopic approach to evaluate possible injury to her joint surface prior to removing a painful bone spur.

Typical recovery time is approximately 2-4 months depending upon the extent of injury to the joint surface. Snow will be evaluated on a regular basis by the Comets medical team and her timetable will be adjusted as needed.

Snow completed the 2007 season – her sixth with the Houston Comets – with averages of 10.8 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game in 34 starts.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Owls Schedule

Greg Williams, Rice Owls women's head basketball coach, announced the 2007 - 2008 schedule for the team today.

Take a look at the
schedule (in .pdf).

With Autry Court renovations in full-swing and due to be completed in time for the 2008-09 campaign, Rice will play its "home" games at Sharp Gym on the Houston Baptist University campus.


After an exhibition contest against HBU (Nov. 1), the Owls spend four consecutive weekends on the road with trips to the Winthrop Classic (Nov. 9-11) along with games at Cal State Northridge (Nov. 16) and UCLA (Nov. 18).

Rice concludes the non-conference slate with trips to Furman (Nov. 30), Wake Forest (Dec. 2), Prairie View A&M (Dec. 28) and Baylor (Dec. 30). Sandwiched in-between those four road games are home tilts with former Southwest Conference and WAC rival TCU (Dec. 6) and Rider (Dec. 20) before Rice heads into its third season of Conference USA play.

Check out the full release.

As I wrote regarding UH Coach Joe Curl announcing UH's '07-'08 schedule, ...Get Your Tickets.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

UH women announce 07-08 Sked

I've known about a few of the non-conference match-ups (re: Duke, LSU, Middle Tennessee, etc.) for a few months; but, today, Joe Curl, Houston Cougars women's basketball head coach, announced the team's 2007 - 2008 schedule.

UH hosts Middle Tennessee on Monday, November 19, at 7pm.
LSU comes to Hofheinz Thursday, November 29, for a 7pm tip-off.
Duke comes to the HOF Friday, December 28, for a 7pm tip.

Take a look at the
2007 - 2008 schedule.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ags versus Team USA

It's safe to assume I'm planning to attend this game on November 11:

Texas A&M hosting the U.S. Women's Senior National Team

I'm hoping to see the Aggies play a lot this season.
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Sunday, September 02, 2007

O Canada


Rice Owls women's basketball players Kadie Riverin and Tara Watts would have an easy time discussing the topic "What I did during my Summer vacation..."

This summer, the two of them represented their native Canada during international women's basketball competitions.

Both played on Canada's Under 21 Team in the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship held in Moscow, Russia; then, both went their separate ways as Riverin played for Canada in the World University Games held in Bangkok, Thailand. Watts played on Canada's Under 19 Team in the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship which were held in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Both young women enjoyed their time on the teams and both of them hope to continue playing for Team Canada in the future.

"When I was in grade 10, I got involved in this program called CP that's run across Canada," said Riverin describing the process of her joining Canada's National Teams. "There's about 30 to 40 girls involved in each regional program. Playing on the provincial teams, you gain recognition. It was either that year (grade 10) or the year after, I got invited to a tryout and I made the team and ever since then I've being playing for Canada. I started on the junior team and I've worked my way up. I've done U21; the University Games; the next is the National Team."

In order to qualify for the National Team, Riverin has to "train really hard this year"; however, Canada's team still needs to qualify for the Olympics which means beating teams such as Cuba and Brazil in regional competition.

Tara Watts got involved in a similar way as Riverin; however, Watts started in CP in grade eight. Watts practiced every week "all through high school" in British Columbia. She tried out for the provincial teams in the summer; and, she made those squads. She earned invitations to the open tryouts and the invitational tryouts in Ontario and she beat out nearly 70 players to earn a spot on the 12-player roster.

Riverin and Watts helped Canada's U21 team finish sixth in the Under-21 competition while Watts and her teammates on the U19 team finished ninth in Slovakia. Riverin and her teammates on the World University Games' team finished seventh in Bangkok.

The sixth place finish in Russia was the best finish for Canada in an Under 21 women's hoops world competition.

Watts said the competition and the level of play in Canada is improving because "the girls a couple of years younger than me are learning so much more technical skills than the older players who didn't have CP and all those training programs. So, it's definitely getting a lot better and we're competing a lot harder."

"Russia was interesting," Watts said. "It was different than anywhere I've ever been. We were in a hotel with all the other teams. We had to travel at least 20 minutes to the gym. Usually, it could be up to an hour though. We had a police escort -- there and back. We all had to eat in the same cafeteria. Our meal was a white fish; spaghetti noodles; beef balls; cut up tomatoes and cut up cucumbers -- for breakfast (lunch and dinner)."

To break up the monotony, the girls brought peanut butter and ate peanut butter on bread with bananas.

The two weeks they were in Russia they had two days of training before their first game. During the tournament, Canada played Belgium; Russia; France; Mali; China; Australia; and Brazil. Canada defeated Mali; China and Brazil; split with Belgium and lost to Russia; France; and Australia.

Watts described Riverin's performance in the U21 as "awesome!" Tara added "Kadie played pretty much the whole game. Nobody could stop her on the other teams. She was our leading scorer a couple of times. She pretty much drove to the basket and nobody could stop her."

Watts' playing time went from 20 minutes to about five minutes toward the end of the competition; but, she was okay with it because "it was a good experience nonetheless".

Playing for the U21 team was "a good experience," said Riverin. "Russia was a little different. We were staying in not the greatest part of town; so, we weren't really allowed outside the hotel much. It was fun to play against all the teams; and, we did better than we've ever done at that age group. We got to see how we match up against the top teams in the world like Australia."

In the now three plus years I've known Riverin, she's very modest -- almost shy -- on and off the court. She described her play for the U21 team as "all right".

"I handled the ball well. I didn't take too many shots. I"m still working on my jumper; so, I was focusing on other things and trying to be a leader for the team and get people shots where they like to shoot the ball."

Without a doubt, playing international basketball is very different than competing in Conference USA.

"It's much more physical," Riverin stated. "You're allowed to get away with a lot more; and, the players are way more physical. It's a faster game. I liked it. You have the eight-second rule to get the ball across half court."

KG w/ Kadie and Tara. Courtesy Rice Owls Athletics.

After playing in Moscow, Riverin participated in the World University Games in Thailand which she described "as an amazing experience. It's a tournament similar to the Olympics -- it's the second biggest competition -- next to the Olympics. We stayed in an athletes village. There were about 120 countries participating and everyone stayed in the village."

This team was a little older than the Under 21 team; and, they didn't have as much time to train and prepare. Despite that team consisting of more veterans, Riverin still started. She said the team played games at a slower tempo in order to take advantage of their big post players.

"We finished seventh. We had a chance to go top four; but, we lost to Poland with four seconds left by two. That was a shot to the heart because there were two girls from UTEP (C-USA rival, Texas-El Paso) playing for Poland; but, our finish was still the best Canada has ever done at the University Games."

Watts played for the Under 19 Team in Slovakia; and she said the training camp was the "hardest training camp I've ever been to. We did two practices a day for three hours each. We had one afternoon off. The coach was very intense; but, we were really prepared when we got to Slovakia. I thought the tournament their was a better experience than in Russia. We were in every game until late in the fourth quarter. The competition was great. The team just clicked. We got along really well. Our hotel was located five minutes from the gym so we could walk there if we wanted to watch other games. We were five minutes from the shopping center which was close by; so, we went grocery shopping or clothes shopping at any time of the day. Compared to Russia -- where we were pretty much not allowed to leave our hotel -- we had so much more freedom. Overall, it was so much fun."

Watts thought she played well in Slovakia; but, "the coaches got on me all the time about not shooting the ball and they told me if I didn't shoot the ball I'd be sitting on the bench; so, I finally started shooting the ball. (Tara heard similar words from the Rice coaching staff repeatedly during her freshman year last season.) I took the ball to the basket more and tried to learn to be a little bit more selfish."

Watts hopes to bring the team's intensity and the ability to bond to her Rice teammates in 2007 - 2008.

"If every one can bond as well as we did in that two or three weeks in Slovakia," Watts commented, "If Rice can do that, there's no way we can get down on each other after a loss. If I can get every one to play that hard, then you know you've done your best. Learning to take open shots; make the extra pass; or do the little things are things I can bring to Rice this season."

Since Canada has moved from the Under 20 team to a development team, Watts is uncertain what she'll do in the near future; but, she will tryout for the development team.

Playing in these competitions helped Riverin prepare for her senior season at Rice. "I got my confidence up handling the ball. I felt no pressure when I had the ball in my hands."

Though Riverin is entering her senior season at Rice, she has begun thinking about her professional basketball career.

"I hope to continue to play. Either here in the States or overseas. I'd like to make the WNBA; but, also go overseas. I need to be aggressive; be a leader; and probably get a little stronger and a little bigger."

Riverin doesn't have a preference of playing overseas; however, France would be nice because she can speak French. "Russia, I don't know. I'd go. If they wanted me, if it was a good team and I was going to get good training and improve; then, I would take it. I'm not really thinking about the money. I just want to play basketball."

Watts hasn't made up her mind yet regarding her long time basketball career because she's hoping to go to medical school. However, she'd also like to play overseas; but, she's uncertain if she can put off med school for a little while.

According to Riverin, Rice Owls fans should be excited for the upcoming season. "I think we're going to do very well. We have strong players coming back. Val (Valeriya Berezhynska) has been training very hard this summer. She's gotten very strong. I think she's going to dominate everybody. We have key guards coming back. I think we're going to be just fine."

Watts added, "We've got five freshmen coming in that look pretty good so far. Lot's of key players coming back. We're going to compete hard."

With the 2007 - 2008 college basketball season quickly approaching, Kadie Riverin and Tara Watts hope to build on what they experienced this summer representing their native land.
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