By Daniel Wallace
Junior Lady Bear star Brittney Griner is off to Europe. The players who are participating in the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s National Team European training camp and exhibition games were announced Monday. Griner will join Baylor alum Sophia Young, who currently plays for the San Antonio Silver Stars WNBA team.
The team also includes other WNBA stars such as Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty). Candice Dupree and Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury are expected to join the team in Europe later this week. The team features a total of 26 players.
The team opens training camp today in Naples, Italy in order to prepare for the five-game exhibition tour that goes through Oct. 9. It will open its 2011 European tour with two games in Naples, followed by a game in Valencia, Spain. The final two games will take place in the Czech Republic and Hungary.
While in Italy and Spain, the team will face reigning Italian champion Famila Schio and Ros Casasares Valencia. In the Czech Republic, it will compete against Czech league champion ZVVZ-USK Prague. The final game will be against UNIQA-Euroleasing Sopron, the Hungarian Cup winners.
Griner is the only collegiate player on the squad. Sophia Young is a two-time All-American that helped lead the Lady Bears to a national championship in 2005. In the 2006 WNBA draft, Young was selected as the fourth overall pick by the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Griner and Young will be coached by current University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma. Auriemma has seven national championships to his credit with Connecticut and boasts an all-time winning percentage of .861 in his 26 years of coaching.