Odyssey's Third Blog From China
2:10 P.M., THURSDAY, AUG. 18, 2011
Shezhen, China- Well, we had a late game tonight, we played at 8:30 p.m. and the gym was an hour away this was the first game where we had to travel far away.
We won again, defeating Finland, the final score was 96-30. I did not play because I am having knee problems again, my knee started hurting a couple days ago and it has been bothering me ever since. The doctor said it's nothing too serious but I'm trying to take it easy. We play in the semi-finals game tomorrow night against Australia. It should be a really good game, I am getting myself ready for that game and should be able to play tomorrow night.
Only a couple of days left, almost to the gold!
Note - The medal quarterfinal win advances the U.S. squad to the 2011 World University Games semifinals, where it will face a strong and also unbeaten Australian (4-0) side on Aug. 19 (8:30 a.m. EDT).
Odyssey's Second Blog From China
9 A.M., MONDAY, AUG. 15, 2011
Shezhen, China - We are now 2-0 we played Slovakia today and we won 114-63. I had 10 points but I had a lot of great assists!
As long as I'm out here I don't think I will ever get used to the time change (China is 11 hours ahead of Texas time). Needless to say, it took everyone a while to adjust to the time change. We're getting better but it's been a process. Every day the time is getting away from me and I never realize it until the day is almost over. When I first got out here the time went by sooooo slow now it's kind of speeding up and that's what I like.
We play Great Britain next (Aug. 16, 6 p.m. China time) then quarterfinals follow on Aug. 18, semis on the 19th and the finals are Aug. 21.
Once again I'm enjoying myself and I am having fun. The people from the other countries are so friendly.
Here are some quotes from Odyssey (courtesy USA Basketball) after the USA's victory over Slovakia. She tallied 10 points, one rebound, five assists and three steals in 20 minutes of action.
Odyssey Sims (Baylor University)
On tonight's game:
I thought we played well. We still have a lot to capitalize on, but two games into the tournament we are improving. We are getting better each game, and that is all you can ask for.
Did you feel like you came close to 40 minutes of focused basketball?
We still lost concentration at times - giving up on the end of plays and not switching on screens, stuff like that - but for the majority we played really well.
You've had two big wins. Will this team be ready as you play tougher competition?
We have been preparing for tough competition, and we will be ready for whoever we play. We just have to go out there and do our best and compete.
Odyssey's First Blog From China
10:00 A.M., SATURDAY, AUG. 13, 2011
Greetings from China!! Well, it has been a busy week out here from the day we got here up until now.
We have had one hour practices and they have been going pretty well, earlier this week we scrimmaged Brazil and smacked them by 30. We didn't play our best game though, I'm just excited to start playing tomorrow against Brazil. It should be more of a challenge than the scrimmage was.
We attended the opening ceremonies and they were pretty spectacular. I'm enjoying meeting the athletes, trading pins and hanging with my teammates.
We went to watch our boys as a team and they won, they played against Mexico and won by 40.
Overall I'm having fun right now. China is very HUMID!!!!
More later, O
Odyssey's Travel to China
10:45 A.M., THURSDAY, AUG. 11, 2011
Courtesy USA Basketball
Most people look at a cross-country flight as a long travel day. That doesn't even come close to what the 2011 USA Basketball World University Games Teams did over almost a 30-hour span. After beginning to load their respective buses from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., at 4:30 a.m. (MDT) on Mon., Aug. 8, the men's and women's teams rolled out of town and up to Denver.
Following a short delay, the squads flew to San Francisco and then onto Hong Kong. By the time everyone landed in China, the travel day was already about 24 hours long ... and counting. After gathering along with several swimmers outside customs, everyone went through a special "Universiade" passport control lane, gathered luggage and then walked through another special customs lane dedicated to the event participants.
Then it was time for a bus ride to the border, where everyone off-loaded the buses, went through another customs control area to leave the Hong Kong territory and about 50 yards later, pushed bags through customs at the official mainland China boarder. Then it was onto the third bus of the day and a short while later the World University Games village loomed large in the distance.
Again the teams unloaded their buses, dragged the bags off, got a brief introduction by U.S. delegation members, and then finally made their way to their home away from home for the next few weeks.
From door-to-door the process lasted just under 30 hours. With no complaints. Everyone, bleary-eyed from getting just a few hours here and there on the plane, was very excited about the prospect of living in a village with thousands of other athletes from the U.S. and around the world.
"I think someone said the name of the day was `patience,' said University of Notre Dame guard Natalie Novosel. "You never know what you're going to experience with the travel. It's always unexpected so you just have to go with the flow. Once somebody to get irritable, it's easy for a lot of people to get irritable. So everyone was trying to keep a good attitude about it and everyone did the best they could. Overall I think everyone did have a good attitude, a good experience and we made it here safely and that's the biggest thing."
The next 24 hours were just as much of a whirlwind and this is where the two teams' paths went separate ways to accommodate their different practice schedules. The USA women, after getting into the dining hall around midnight, met again for breakfast at 9:00 a.m., then went to a delegation briefing at 10:00 a.m., met for lunch at 1:00 p.m., went straight to a press conference that put them back at the village about 3:30 p.m., then got taped an hour later and headed off for a scrimmage against Brazil at 5:35 p.m.
Following the scrimmage, the team returned `home,' turned in their practice gear, went to dinner and made it back in time to Skype, instant message and email their family and friends back home before sleep took over and sent them into dreamland for their second night in the village.
"I thought (the scrimmage against Brazil) was really good," said USC grad student Jacki Gemelos. "It was a really good test for us to lead us into the actual game on Sunday morning. It was a good day to kind of get the airplane out of our system and things like that. They were a pretty good team and I think we did really well tonight. We were rusty and tired and things like that, but it's definitely going to prepare us for Sunday morning."
Any normal person might look at a schedule like that and have a few comments about it taking too long, being tired, having not a lot of free time, etc., but not the members of this team. Everyone is very excited about the experience looming ahead of them - and not just because of the basketball competition. There are too many cultures to explore, experiences to be had and lifelong friendships to forge for the USA Basketball coaches and athletes to be anything but excited.
4:20 P.M., WEDNESDAY, AUG. 10, 2011
Courtesy USA Basketball
Baylor University rising sophomore Odyssey Sims arrived in Colorado Springs, Colo., in late May hoping to snare one of the 12 spots on the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team. At the tail end of trials, Sims was called up to train for a session with players two to three years older. Unfazed, Sims took to the court and distributed accurate pin-point passes to the athletes vying for a spot on the 2011 USA World University Games Team.
Sims was just as impressive in that session as she was during her freshman year at Baylor, where she aided the Bears to a 34-4 record, the Big 12 Tournament and regular season titles and the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. After averaging 13.1 ppg. and 3.1 apg. and being named an All-America honorable mention by The Associated Press and Women's Basketball Coaches Association, Sims beat out 24 other top collegians in earning a spot on the 2011 USA World University Games squad. The team, which has been practicing at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs since July 31, will look to defend the USA's gold medal during the Aug. 14-21 women's basketball competition at the WUGs in Shenzhen, China.
Sims can't wait to travel to China, which will be her second trip out of the country. "I went to the Bahamas last year with Baylor. That was a great experience and I'm looking forward to another one."
Some of her on-court toughness can be attributed to the pick-up games with her brothers.
"They're very physical," she said. "Sometimes I quit because they were fouling me too much. It was really competitive."
So, how does she feel about being the youngest player on the floor? "I just take it as a pride thing. Having the opportunity to be out here, this is great for me. Playing up, everyone's two years older than me. Being the youngest, I can learn from everyone on the floor. Knowing that when I turn the ball over and make mistakes, we can learn from each other and that gets me better. I like playing up. It just feels great."
She first picked up a basketball when she was about five and hanging out at one of her two older brother's games. By eight, Sims was signed up to play organized hoops. By her senior year of high school, she had earned all-state all four years and was tabbed the WBCA/State Farm National High School Player of the Year. And by the end of her freshman year, she was on her way to earning a spot on her first USA Basketball team.
Unsure why her mom picked the name Odyssey, the moniker definitely portends a long journey and hopefully one that ends with a gold medal in China later this month.
USABasketball.comsat down with Sims to find out how training camp was going, what it was like to make the team, and other topics of conversation.
What was it like when you were named to the team?
It was exciting. Being the youngest, not knowing what to expect, it was just a great feeling. I was happy all day.
Was it a relief?
Yeah and now I can concentrate mainly on being myself. Everybody's coming out of their comfort zone and working with one another so we can be a great team and get the gold medal.
You originally tried out for the USA U19 World Championship Team. Did you follow that team in its gold medal run?
I heard about it, but I didn't really follow it. I couldn't watch it because I didn't have FIBATV, but I heard that they won the gold. We all actually watched the championship game and I was really happy for them.
Do you feel any extra pressure to win gold, given the USA's gold medal streak?
No, we just have to go in and be ourselves. Me and Skylar (Diggins), we just have to lead the team. When things aren't going great, we have to know what to do. In pressure situations try to get the ball in the right hands, find open people and create opportunities.
How did you get started playing basketball?
My oldest brother, when he was in high school, I was really little. I just picked up a basketball and started shooting on the side a little. Then, my momma got me into an AAU team when I was eight. I've been playing AAU since then.
Both of your brothers played basketball in college. Did you have some competitive family games?
I don't like to play against them because they cheat a lot. But, when we did play, they're very physical. Sometimes I quit because they were fouling me too much. It was really competitive.
How excited are they for you being able to play for USA Basketball?
Real excited. It's a great opportunity. Not everybody gets a chance to be here. Just to be here and know that I'm going across the water to represent my country, my team, my family, where I'm from and everything, it's just a great feeling.
Do you feel that you do belong with these older, more experienced players?
I just take it as a pride thing. Having the opportunity to be out here, this is great for me. Playing up, everyone's two years older than me. Being the youngest, I can learn from everyone on the floor. Knowing that when I turn the ball over and make mistakes, we can learn from each other and that gets me better. I like playing up. It just feels great.
What have you been doing off the court?
We all go eat together, then everybody's in each other's rooms, talking, watching TV, just stuff like that.
Do you feel that getting to know each other off the court will help your on-court chemistry?
Yeah, definitely. You have to have chemistry on and off the court. If you don't have it on the court and off the court, it doesn't really help because it's going back to square one. This is a great team. I'm honored to be with this group of girls and our chemistry is getting better each day.
You've held a job bagging groceries. Can you tell me what you learned from that?
It was either my junior or senior year of high school and I did it for a few months. I wanted to see what it was like to have my own money, so my momma couldn't be like `well, you can't buy this because it's not your money.' I just wanted to see what it felt like. I wanted to learn how to manage my money, so that when I do have a job later I'll be able to do it and not spend it all in one place.
And were you able to manage it wisely?
At first I wasn't. I went to the mall like every other day. But, as I progressed I got better and I learned how to save my money. I would buy things in smaller increments and not in large amounts.
You said that San Diego is where you'd want to live if you could live anywhere. Why San Diego?
It's just beautiful. California itself is beautiful. I don't know. I'm not sure, when I went there I liked the city, I liked the scenery, I liked everything.
Your favorite all-time player is Allen Iverson, have you tried to pattern your game after him?
When I started playing basketball, I wore No. 3 and he was the main reason why I picked No. 3. I felt like he was little and I was little, so I felt like it was one little person and another little person. I like how he played off screens, everything, his entire game was awesome. Since he doesn't play anymore I still go watch clips so I can learn from him.
In which track & field events did you compete in high school?
In eighth grade through my junior year, I was going to run my senior year, but I got hurt. I did the 800, mile, 4x200, 4x100, 4x400, 400, long jump ... and that's it.
What have you been learning out here?
This is a good group. We've been feeding off of each other. Everybody's from different spots, everybody's known for being the star on their team. Now, we have to learn to work without the ball. That's something that's going to be a key factor, moving without the ball, learning that the ball's not always going to be in your hands in the game.