Skylar Diggins

Skylar Diggins reflects on getting cut from World Championships team

Leave a comment

Skylar Diggins met with U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan and coach Geno Auriemma in September in France to receive news common in sports but unusual for a player of her stature.

You didn’t make the team.

Diggins, an All-American at Notre Dame and All-Star with the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock, was one of three cuts following the U.S.’ exhibition loss to France on Sept. 21, six days before the World Championships. Diggins didn’t play against France, the U.S.’ first loss since 2011.

The cuts brought the U.S. down to 13 players. One more player was cut later that week to reach the roster maximum of 12. The Olympic roster chosen next year is also a maximum of 12.

“We have the best players in the world competing to be on the best team in the world,” Diggins said while in New York for NBA All-Star weekend. “It’s going to be challenging. There’s only 12 spots, and there’s way, way, way more than 12 players who could be deserving of those spots.

“The committee chose what they wanted. For me, it’s all about that experience. I have many years with USA Basketball, many great experiences. Any time they call on me, I’m going to show up and try out to make a team.”

Diggins, a guard, tried out for the team following her second professional season and a WNBA Most Improved Player award.

The guards who made the team included Olympic champions Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen as well as Odyssey Sims, Diggins’ teammate with the Tulsa Shock who was coming off her rookie season.

The U.S., without Diggins, won the World Championship in Turkey to clinch a 2016 Olympic berth.

Asked if there’s anything Diggins wanted to say to or show Auriemma in future camps before the Olympic team is chosen, she said no.

“I’m going to continue to be myself,” Diggins said. “I learned a lot from the vets out there.”

In September, Auriemma spoke to the difficulty in selecting a 12-player team among the U.S. talent pool. And that was without the injured frontcourt players Tamika Catchings, Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker.

The final four players cut — Diggins, Stefanie Dolson, Kayla McBride and Jantel Lavender — were all 25 and younger.

“They’re young pros with not a lot of international experience, and they’re all playing positions that are difficult to crack into the lineup,” Auriemma said in a press release, before Lavender was the last cut to accommodate Brittney Griner. “Every one of those players that weren’t chosen will be a huge part of USA Basketball going forward. It’s just like so many before them, this is not the right time.”

Though Diggins played for a rival of Auriemma’s Connecticut in college, they embraced following Diggins’ final Notre Dame game, a 2013 NCAA Tournament semifinal defeat to UConn.

“He told me not to let this game define my legacy and said I have done more for the sport than some people who have won four national championships,” Diggins said then, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Diggins’ third WNBA season starts in June.

Australia’s Lauren Jackson thinks about retiring from basketball daily

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!