Quartet represents USA at games in China
Eric Prister | Friday, August 26, 2011
Just weeks before workouts are set to begin for the Irish, four players earned a unique opportunity to represent the United States at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China.
Fifth-year forward Tim Abromaitis represented the Irish men, while junior guard Skylar Diggins, senior guard Natalie Novosel and fifth-year forward Devereaux Peters represented the women.
The men’s team was knocked out of medal contention in the quarterfinals with a loss to Lithuania and failed to reach the podium, but Abromaitis said just being a part of the team helped boost his confidence going into the 2011-12 campaign.
“Unfortunately we didn’t win the gold medal like we wanted to, but it was a great team and a fun experience,” he said. “It was great to experience China and see the culture a little bit. It helps [my confidence] a lot, just knowing that you can play with the best players out there and being able to beat a lot of good teams out there too. I think it definitely has me ready for the season. I’m in good shape right now, and I just can’t wait for the games to be here.”
Abromaitis averaged just over six points and four rebounds per game for Team USA, which finished with a tournament-best 7-1 record. The sharp-shooting Irish forward said he had to adjust his role slightly to fit in as a part of Team USA.
“With the team I was playing a little more of a big-man role,” he said. “My job was more getting rebounds, setting screens, doing dirty work like that. But when you’re playing basketball, it’s all the same, so I just tried to fit and do what I could to help the team win.”
He also hinted the role change over the summer might lead to an adjusted role on the Irish squad this season.
“With losing Ty [Nash} and Carleton [Scott], somebody’s going to have to step up inside,” Abromaitis said. “Obviously we have big guys with Jack [Cooley] and Mike [Broghammer] and Tom [Knight] and those guys, so we’ll see what happens with my role this year, but it was good to experience having to play a little differently and see if I can carry that over.”
The women fared much better in the World University Games, outscoring opponents by an average of 45 points per game on their way to gold. Diggins had an impressive tournament, averaging 12 points per game and a tournament-best five assists per game. Peters, who was the only Irish player not in the starting lineup for the women’s Team USA, led the team in bench scoring with 10 points per game.
“I think it was an amazing experience,” Diggins said. “It’s always a blessing and an amazing opportunity when you have a chance to put on this uniform and be able to go represent your country in a different country in a such a huge deal like the World University Games. The people of Shenzhen were amazing hosts. They did a great job of setting up the facilities and everything was top of the line, and the people there were the nicest people I’ve ever met. Being able to go over there and win a gold medal, playing against really good teams and being able to share it with these two women [Novosel and Peters] ⎯ my teammates were just amazing.”
Diggins said winning gold also gave her and her Notre Dame teammates extra motivation to improve upon last season’s magical run, which ended in a 76-70 loss to Texas A&M in the NCAA National Championship game.
“We were the bride in this tournament, and we were the bride’s maid last year, so hopefully we can come back and do something great,” she said.