15 May 2012

Quick hits from USA Women’s Basketball press conference

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

Coach Geno Auriemma and May Moore discuss the Women's Basketball team's chances for gold at the summer games.

Youth movement

With five newcomers on this year’s national team, USA Women’s Basketball Head Coach Geno Auriemma had to orientate a new bunch of young Olympians in Friday’s Training Camp in Seattle.

“In three days I think we’ve accomplished a little bit,” Auriemma said. “We’ve learned a little bit too. We got our philosophy out there.”

The team had its first scrimmage on Saturday. Auriemma expects the intensity to pick up as the days draw closer to preliminary competition.

Geno’s crew  

Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore will be competing in her first Olympic Games in London. She joins six other former University Of Connecticut Huskies.

Moore, the youngest player on the roster, says being on the National Team is “a dream come true.”

“I think if you look at the roster top to bottom, it’s unmatched,” Moore said. “It’s all the players I grew up with: Taurasi, Catchings, Sue Bird … players like that. It’s really a dream come true.”

As an Olympic newbie, Moore has stepped back and watched the veterans guide the team, learning the ways of top world competitors.

“I try to take it all in. I’ve got some great players to learn from,” Moore said. “And when my number is called and Coach Auriemma puts me in, I want to make sure I’m bringing energy and doing all the little things necessary to win games.”

Where’s Britney Griner? 

Baylor basketball star Britney Griner has been all over the national headlines. She dominated opponents with her tremendous size and athleticism. Her college basketball career concluded with a national championship win with the Baylor Bears. But the nation’s leading rebounder and shot blocker is nowhere to be found on the 2012 Olympic roster. Auriemma said it was Griner’s decision not to be a finalist.

“She was part of the group we were going from, but she took herself out of the pool and asked not to remain eligible to be selected for the Olympic team,” Auriemma said. “It’s unfortunate for Britney, but at the same time this team is an incredible team that not enough people  know about or pay attention to.”

Had Griner not taken herself out of consideration, Auriemma says her chances were “pretty good.”

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

15 May 2012

Dwyane Wade undecided about playing in Games

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

In a year when injury concerns and offseason surgeries are shaking up Team USA’s Olympic roster, another integral player may be missing come tip-off time in July. According to NBA.com, Dwyane Wade has mixed feelings on playing in the 2012 London Games. The Miami Heat guard cites his health as the reason for his indecision.

“I’m just going to see how I feel,” Wade said. “This is about being healthy—I think, for all of us, going into the summer healthy—and taking it from there.”

At 30 years old, Wade has reason to be concerned about wear and tear on his body.  The all-star guard has dealt with several minor injuries during his last two seasons in the NBA. Wade has been a member of the last two USA National Teams, winning gold in 2008 and bronze in 2004.

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo believes the team will be prepared if Wade decides to sit out for the Games.

“You could, today, probably come up with 10 or 11 that look pretty solid unless something happens,” he said. “Wade’s one of those guys, but if he feels like he doesn’t have anything left or doesn’t think he can go, then we’ll make a decision as to who replaces him. We do have a lot of flexibility because we have guys who can play so many positions.”

Wade’s uncertainty is more bad news for Team USA, which has already seen Lamarcus Aldridge, Chauncey Billups, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love,  Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose crossed off the roster due to serious injuries this season. Lakers Center Andrew Bynum will also be missing the Olympic Games, opting to have offseason knee surgery in Germany.

“We’re going to have to have guys step up,” LeBron James said last week. “Dwight is a big part of our team. We was looking forward to having D-Rose on our team at the point guard. So we’re going to have to have guys step up in training camp and relish the opportunity.”

The U.S. will still have plenty of talent left. Recently, University of Kentucky Forward Anthony Davis and Oklahoma City Thunder Guard James Harden were added to the finalists’ roster.  The Americans will still have some of the best players in the world in Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant on their squad. Carmelo Anthony and Russel Westbrook will also load those wing spots.

Colangelo remains confident that Team USA can claim gold in London this summer, despite all the injuries.

“When we went to Beijing, we had one gold medal winner in the room, and that was Jason Kidd,” he said Sunday. “Now, we have, what? Eight or nine from the two teams? And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch. They’re all indoctrinated. They all know what to expect.”

The final 12-man roster for the USA Men’s Basketball National Team is expected to be announced on July 7 or 8.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

14 May 2012

First Lady looks to Olympic hopefuls to inspire kids to get active

By Emily Thompson | BSU at the Games

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to the media at the 2012 USOC Team USA Media Summit.

Journalists representing media outlets from all over the country only applauded twice during the three-day 2012 Team USA Media Summit—when First Lady Michelle Obama walked on stage and again when she left the stage.

The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced a collaboration with the First Lady and her Let’s Move! Campaign, a program dedicated to combating childhood obesity. The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) solicited commitments from several USOC National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to work to get 1.7 million children involved in beginning-level sports.

Two-time Olympian Natalie Couglin, who admitting to being very nervous, announced the First Lady, saying, “America’s youth are this country’s greatest asset, but they need our help. The more we can do to expose kids and children to the Olympic and Paralympic sports, the better off we’ll all be.”

When First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage, she told the stories of a few of this year’s Olympic hopefuls and explained the role that the Olympic and Paralympic Games played in her childhood.

“One of my happiest memories center around watching the Olympic Games on TV when I was a little girl, cheering on Mary Lou and Nadia, Paul Lewis and so many others. And like so many young people, I was awed and inspired by those athletes.”

The First Lady will also be leading the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer. “So when I’m sitting in that stadium in London, cheering on Team USA, I’ll be thinking about all those young people cheering them on at home,” the First Lady said. “I’ll be thinking about the power of the Games to truly inspire a generation.”

She also discussed the importance of getting children involved in entry-level sports. “Sometimes all it takes is that first lesson, or that first clinic, or that first class to get a child excited about a new sport,” the First Lady said. “All it takes is one opportunity, and once they’re engaged, that’s when coaches and instructors can step in and become mentors. That’s when discipline and teamwork can become daily lessons. That’s when being active can become a lifelong habit.”

Emily Thompson is a senior magazine-journalism major at Ball State University covering feature stories for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at@ekthomposon2410@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

14 May 2012

Quick hits from USA Men’s Basketball press conference

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

The roster deadline

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed the final 12-man roster for USA Men’s Basketball will be named on July 7, a day after the National Team holds its training camp in Las Vegas, Nev. The United States Olympic Committee extended the deadline after injuries eliminated four finalists from consideration.

“We know exactly where we want to be,” Colangelo said. “But we need to take inventory of what status our players have.”

Anthony Davis and James Harden added to Olympic roster

Colangelo confirmed the additions of University of Kentucky forward Anthony Davis and Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden to the 2012 Olympic Finalists roster. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks if Davis makes the cut he will bring a defensive presence to the team.

“Davis is a very unique player,” Krzyzewski  said. “He can help us defensively because of his shot-blocking ability. He doesn’t need the ball. We want someone who can run, and he’s an outstanding athlete.”

Davis’ promotion to the team is a bit controversial. The NCAA National Champion athlete has yet to play a game as a professional. He is projected to be taken No.1 overall in this year’s NBA Draft.

When asked about a potential new rule that would set a 23-and-under age limit for Olympic basketball competition after London, Colangelo dodged the question.

“There’s a time and place for that discussion,” Colangelo said.

If the rule were in effect now, it wouldn’t just be Davis who would miss the cut. Of the 18 remaining men’s basketball finalists, only seven would qualify.

“The big guys” 

Coach K said the biggest concern for Team USA in the 2012 Olympic Games would be “the big guys”.

“We’re not deep in that part of the pool,” Krzyzewski said.

The Americans will be thin inside with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum missing the Games.

Howard had season-ending surgery on his back and won’t be ready for London. Bynum won’t be making the trip either, opting to have off-season knee surgery in Germany. It’s the same knee surgery his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant had last summer.


Team USA’s lack of a post presence could be exposed against Spain. The Spaniards are loaded inside with Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will play a dynamic role off the bench.

“Spain would be a concern whether we had all of our big men,” Krzyzewski said. “But there are a lot of ways to play the game, and what we did in 2008 and ’10 is try to personalize what we do for the group we have. Hopefully, our personalization is better than theirs.”

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

14 May 2012

Summer Games: maybe Coach K’s last

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

USA Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Monday that the 2012 Olympic Games in London will “probably” be his last.

Coach Krzyzewski speaks to media at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas.

The 65-year-old coach made the announcement at the United States Olympic Committee’s Team USA Media Summit in Dallas, Tex. USA Men’s Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo sat by his side as he uttered the news.

“I think this is the last time,” Krzyzewski said. “I hope we can win the gold medal.”

The legendary basketball coach says he still wants to be involved with the USA Basketball program in some capacity, but you won’t be seeing him on the sidelines calling plays.

“I’ll always be a part of the program and want to be a part of the program,” he said. “(Jerry Colangelo) has been the architect of something that our country needed in developing a culture and we’ll see what type of continuity we have.”

Krzyzewski doesn’t believe his departure will have as much of an impact on the National Team as another USA Basketball leader’s will.

“The biggest loss that we would have is whenever Jerry (Colangelo) steps down. His vision for this has been spectacular.”

Colangelo says he’s leaning toward coming back to USA Basketball after the 2012 Games.

Krzyzewski has been a prominent figure in the United States for international basketball throughout his career. Since taking the position in 2005, ‘”Coach K” has comprised an overall record of 36-1 in international competition. He is credited with reestablishing the U.S. National Team to the forefront of international basketball, seizing gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

10 May 2012

Students and advisers take part in Team USA Olympic Media Summit

By Kait Buck | BSU at the Games

Students and advisers from BSU at the Games will join national media, First Lady Michelle Obama and some of the most well known Olympians when they travel to Dallas May 12 through 15 for a unique opportunity to attend the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) 2012 Team USA Media Summit.

Athletes answer questions at a past Team USA Media Summit. Photo courtesy: USOC

USOC has hosted the Media Summit each Olympic year since 1988 as an opportunity for journalists to conduct interviews and photo sessions with Team USA’s top Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. The three-day event includes press conferences, roundtables and special television and radio interview sessions. The USOC expects approximately 120 athletes to participate in this year’s summit.

Among the participants are former Olympic gold medalists such as 16-time swimming medalist Michael Phelps. Several athletes whom BSU at the Games team members are in contact with for stories will also be in attendance, including David Boudia (Diving), Mary Killman (Synchronized Swimming), Kayla Harrison (Judo), Alexander Massialas (Fencing), medalist Tim Morehouse (Fencing), Eric Shanteau (Swimming) and Errol Spence (Boxing).

First Lady Michelle Obama also will attend to launch her Let’s Move! initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity. She is collaborating with the USOC to use the inspiration of the Games as a call to action for a healthy, active lifestyle for American children.

BSU at the Games advisers Ryan Sparrow and Chris Taylor will travel to Dallas with a group of five students—sophomore Emily Barker, telecommunications; junior Josh Blessing, journalism and telecommunications; junior Pat Boylan, telecommunications; sophomore Brandon Pope, journalism and telecommunications; and senior Emily Thompson, magazine journalism. Taylor, Blessing and Barker have already arrived in Dallas for advance production work on stories prior to the summit.

“I’m hoping to boost my interviewing skills and do some networking at this conference,” Pope said. “I’m also looking forward to taking in the atmosphere of a big-time sports-media event. We’ll be shoulder to shoulder with the big names in journalism.”

Pope is covering Team USA Fencing athletes Massialas and Morehouse and hopes to speak with them at the event.

“This is a relationship business, and we will have a tremendous opportunity to cultivate existing relationships and build new ones while in Dallas,” said Taylor, BSU at the Games sports team adviser. “I am excited to represent Ball State, our program and our students at a national media event like this.”

Follow the event through the eyes of our staff on Twitter @bsuatthegames and Facebook.com/bsuatthegames. Visit our website www.london.bsuatthegames.com for stories, blogs and photos from the summit.

For an event schedule and full list of participating athletes, visit the USOC website.


Kait Buck is a senior public relations and history major at Ball State University. Follow Kait and the BSU team at @keightbuck@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

07 May 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama to attend Team USA Media Summit

USOCThe United States Olympic Committee  announced First Lady Michelle Obama will join U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls at the USOC’s 2012 Team USA Media Summit in Dallas on May 14 to announce a commitment to get more American children active in support of her Let’s Move! Initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity.

Last week, Mrs. Obama spoke at the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Warrior Games and this summer she will lead the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The first lady is working to turn the inspiration of the Olympic Games into action by getting more kids healthy and active.

“We’re incredibly honored to have Mrs. Obama join us in Dallas to celebrate the accomplishments of America’s finest athletes and announce new ways we can all work together to increase access to sport for young children,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “The Let’s Move! Initiative is an important one and something the entire Olympic family in the United States is eager to support.”

The Team USA Media Summit is a three-day opportunity for print, broadcast, internet and photo journalists to conduct interviews and photo sessions with Team USA’s top Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls just months prior to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The USOC has hosted a Media Summit each Olympic year since 1988. Previous host cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Houston, New York City and Salt Lake City.

BSU at the Games members Josh Blessing, Emily Barker, Pat Boylan, Brandon Pope and Emily Thompson, along with instructors Ryan Sparrow and Chris Taylor, will be attending the Media Summit in Dallas. 

Updates from the event will be available at www.london.bsuatthegames.com, www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames and through Twitter @bsuatthegames.

Courtesy USOC Media Relations