Saturday, August 23, 2008

Storm Predicts the Gold-Medal Game

After Friday's Storm practice, I surveyed several players and Head Coach Brian Agler on their picks for the gold-medal game of the Beijing Olympics between the USA (and Sue Bird) and Australia (and Lauren Jackson).

"You think I'm really going to pick Australia?" noted one American Storm player in response. OK, that's fair. Still, I was interested in the responses - and center Kelly Santos, who played against Australia in Beijing, is an unbiased observer. Still, she picked the U.S., and so did everyone else besides Agler, ever the diplomat, who didn't really pick either side but observed that the game would be very close just like the FIBA Diamond Ball warm-up tournament championship assuming Penny Taylor is able to play and play well.

"Obviously, I think the U.S. is going to win it," said Tanisha Wright, who wished good luck to Jackson and former teammate Suzy Batkovic. "No reason they shouldn't be able to finish it out strong."

Camille Little reiterated her hope that Bird gets gold and Jackson silver, saying she expects a good game but the U.S. to pull it out.

As for Santos, she gives the USA's post players the advantage in terms of size, but says that's somewhat offset by the skill of the Opals' posts. Santos thinks that Australia should like to push the tempo. Still, the U.S. will "probably" win.

Yolanda Griffith had the funniest response, saying directly that if the USA loses tomorrow, all the work the team has put in will be for naught. Griffith, a gold medalist in 2000 and 2004 as a member of those U.S. Olympic teams, doesn't see why this squad should lose.

Agler gave the players their choice about how to handle practice, scheduled against the Seattle broadcast of the gold-medal game. They decided to leave the practice at regular time, then watch a replay of the broadcast, having already learned the outcome.

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