Danielle McCray Blogs About Her USA Basketball Experiences

June 23, 2009


Hey Jayhawk Fans!

I am starting this blog as I prepare to head to Colorado Springs for the final training camp for USA Basketball’s World University Games Team. I will playing against 14 other players who each earned a spot in this camp by competing at trials back in May.

Thursday, June 18

Today I woke up around 6:30 a.m., and headed to First Watch to have breakfast with my Mom before heading off to the airport. My flight went pretty smooth and arrived in Colorado Springs without any problems. I got registered and checked in and all that good stuff, which included getting my USA Basketball gear, and off to practice we went. Today’s practice was extremely intense as there is a ton of pressure on each of us here to play well and have our names called to be on the team.

After practice I went to dinner in the dining hall with some of my fellow training camp participants and I ran into Tyshawn Taylor. We got to catch up and he let me know he had made the men’s U19 Team. That was exciting news!

After dinner I decided to head to my room to relax and get a good night’s sleep. I had been up early and tomorrow will surely be a long day.

Friday, June 19

After the long travel day and practice, I can say it was a little hard getting up for our 9 a.m., practice this morning. Practice was again real intense and productive. We did a lot of full court drills and went though some new defensive work. After practice my body was treated with a cold tub bath, which really felt good. We all ate in the café together and took naps before our next session that was at 5:30 p.m.

When we all stretched and huddled up, Coach Charli said ” this is going to be a fun practice” which made all of us giggle. Fun to coaches is not always fun to player s. So we all were wondering what she had up her sleeve. But as practice went on it was actually fun, so next time I’ll believe her!

We scrimmaged against each other and had actual referees which was fun. After scrimmaging we did a drill called “35.” This drill consists of three players at a time, you can only have two passes and then a shot. When the shot goes up, you can not let it hit the floor. If the ball hits the floor you go to zero and each shot is worth two points or three points if you make a 3-pointer. It was real intense and nerve racking at the same time because you had to get 35 points in two minutes. The first time we had balls flying everywhere which caused long rebounds and the ball hit the floor several times and we went back to zero more than three times. The first game we didn’t get 35 but Coach Charli stopped us and said ” look guys, you can go double or nothing”, and the double meant you run six down and backs on the court as a punishment for not getting 35. Everyone looked around and at once we all said “lets go again.” The first group started off with the ball hitting the floor, but after that we all turned it on. With all this said we finally reached 35 points and didn’t have to ru,n which was a big relief.

After that drill we finished up with free-throws and ended practice. We then went to eat in the café and it was unusual because the theme today in the café was pirates day so every cook was dressed as a pirate. We even had some great dishes of food to choose from. After the café we hung out and relaxed. Day Two is down and now I am looking forward to what is yet to come.

Saturday, June 20

Sleeping in is always is great. We didn’t have practice until 11:00 a.m. Today’s practice consisted of going over our plays and our defense. It was really productive. The training and practices have been really tough and especially with this altitude. It pushes you to work extra hard. Everyone has been playing hard and competing for our overall goal which is the gold medal.

After the first practice we all crashed and took naps to get ready for our scrimmage that we had against the boys. The scrimmage was to get a feel for how well we play together and to find the things that we need to work on before we take off for Serbia. The scrimmage went okay. We did some really good things against the guys, but there are still several things that Coach told us we needed to get better at. It was fun though to play against some one different.

After the scrimmage we all went to the café to eat and socialize. This is always interesting because there is always a story that is told that gets everyone going. So far, I have been having a blast and loving this experience. I have also been checking on my teammates at Kansas to make sure things are still going well back in Lawrence, which they are. I am so excited about the chances I have been getting. I have been learning tons of new things that will help me and my team do big things next year.

Day Three is down and I feel like I’m about to pass out right now. I’m so tired, but I realize that you fans would love to know how training camp is up here in Colorado, so I did this just for you all before I hit the sack. Its 9:34 pm so this means I will keep you informed on some new stuff tomorrow. Good night fans, Danielle is officially going to bed. Rock chalk!

Monday, June 22

Drum roll please…..That’s what we were all thinking after we ate breakfast this morning. We all gathered in the “silver room” to hear the good news of who made the team. It was another jittery feeling just like it was for tryouts back in May. It was in alphabetical order so as she was reading the list I was listening for McCray. As she was getting close to my name I was getting more and more nervous, but I felt that I worked really hard to go get where I was at so, either way it was a great experience.

As the player with the last name L was called ….then Danielle McCray was called …which made my heart stopped for just a bit and relieve all the stress and pressure. I was so excited! This was one of the greatest moments of my life to have the opportunity to play on a team filled with great talent and go try to compete and bring home a gold medal.

As I write this blog today I smile hard still just thinking of it. I’m grateful that I had this chance to be here. As soon as we were able to leave the room, I immediately called my Mom and told her. She started yelling and screaming with joy, which added extra excitement for me.

Now that this process is over I’m relieved and excited. I just wanted to let you Jayhawk fans that I made the final cuts and will represent Kansas well. Until then…Rock Chalk! I will keep you up to date on all of my experiences in Serbia so stay tuned!

Danielle McCray