July 5, 2011
Utah women's basketball player Michelle Plouffe wrapped up her summer tour of Europe with the Canada Basketball Senior Women's program, as the team played at the Tournoi International de Picardie in France. Canada lost its first game in overtime to France, 72-67, moving on to defeat Belarus (61-55) before falling in a heartbreaker to Russia, 71-66 in the final game.
The tour is one of several tryout phases for players seeking a berth on the Canadian National squad that will compete in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship for Women. The winner of the FIBA Americas Championship will earn a berth in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
Plouffe talks about the second half of the trip below. Check out part one using the links above.
After a week of training camp (after our first tournament in Spain), we headed to Beauvais, France to play the next 3 games.
During this time we were really able to focus on getting better as a team and just build that on-court chemistry and smoothness that could have been better in the first phase. This week was huge for us and we really developed as a team offensively and defensively.
The first game we had was dropped to France, but was a full-out battle. With France having an extremely good (and big) lineup this year, it was critical for us to be at our best defensively. We ended up taking it to overtime and then went on to lose it in the final minutes. From our last game in Spain to this game, we improved tremendously and we were proud of that. The next game we had was against Belarus. We knew that they were a very big, long team and it was once again going to be a battle. We fought hard, and our team efforts finally paid off and we got the win. Although we knew we were improving every game and throughout training camp, it always feels good to have the result we were training for-a win! The next day we played Russia. As always, Russia has a very big team at every position and matchups and personnel was important. We had moments of lapses on defense and offense and in the first half were down quite a bit. But in the second half we came out strong, executed, and got ourselves back in the game. We were down by three in the final seconds of the game with a chance to tie it, but didn't get a good shot up before the buzzer. This game was an eye opener for us in that, if we can play our best for all four quarters, we can compete with anyone in the world. All of the players and coaching staff are extremely excited about that and about this team. We are confident that we can qualify for the Olympics in September and that is just so exciting as a player to know that we have that opportunity!
Overall, the whole trip was a great experience and instrumental in the development of our team! We can only get better from here and that is exciting because we are just beginning! I feel very proud and blessed to be able to be a part of this team. Every day is an opportunity to get better, whether I am with the team or away and I am committed to doing so. I hope that I can bring everything I've learned back to Utah and our young team!