Charles, Jones not looking ahead to Olympics
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)
Asjha Jones is already having a big year.
The Connecticut Sun forward earned Euroleague Final Eight MVP honors and last month became the final player selected for the U.S. Olympic team.
The 31-year-old, who won two national championships at UConn, opened her 11th WNBA training camp Tuesday, and said there is not much more left on her basketball bucket list.
''There's only two more things to accomplish for me, that is to win it all here and to win a gold medal in the Olympics,'' she said. ''Other than those two things, I think my career has been pretty good.''
Jones, who averaged over 13 points and six rebounds for the Sun last year, is expecting to make a run at both remaining goals this summer.
But with the Sun coming off a 21-15 year and a first-round playoff loss to Atlanta, she and fellow Olympian Tina Charles say their focus now is on the WNBA season.
''As an athlete and as you mature, you know where to put your priorities,'' said Charles, who averaged almost 18 points and 11 rebounds last season for the Sun. ''When July roles around, then my focus will be on the Olympics and what Coach (Geno) Auriemma expects out of me and my role on that team.
''And then when August gets back, my focus is back on the Connecticut Sun.''
Jones and Charles will take a break for just a couple of days later this month to join their Olympic teammates in Washington. They will be back a week before the May 19 season opener in New York.
Sun coach Mike Thibault, who was an assistant on the 2008 Olympic team, said he doesn't expect the games to become much of a distraction.
''Once you're into our season, I don't think you think about the Olympic stuff until it gets a little bit closer,'' he said. ''The biggest distraction for them is going to be logistics and getting family over there and all of that. But USA Basketball is really good about helping the players get those kind of logistics taken care of.''
Connecticut is not the only team with multiple players leaving for London. Minnesota has three players on Team USA, while Chicago also has two. Seattle and Atlanta also have more than one player in the Olympics, and there are players from the U.S. and abroad missing time from nearly every team in the league.
Thibault said he plans to treat the break like a college bowl game, giving his players the first 10 days to rest, the second 10 days to start getting back in condition, and the last 10 as another training camp.
''Probably the down side for us,'' he said, ''is that you have two key players for us who won't be here in your practices the last 10 to 12 days before we restart.''
But guard Kara Lawson, who won a gold medal in 2008, said she's not worried about Charles and Jones missing that time.
''As WNBA players, we're used to weird seasons and this happening every four years,'' she said. ''The main thing is that if you are injured it gives your team a chance to rest up and get healthy.''
Jones, who has battled Achilles problems, said she worries about getting injured, but is more concerned about the toll the WNBA season will take on her body, rather than the extra weeks she will spend in London.
''When it comes to the Olympic team, how many minutes am I really going to play,'' she asked. ''I mean no one's going to play a substantial amount where they are worn out, beat down. I know Coach Auriemma knows better than to try to (wear out) people in practice.
''He knows better than that. Who has time for that?''