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Archive for Saturday, August 21, 1999

KU WOMEN RETURN FROM INTERNATIONAL GAMES

August 21, 1999

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Kansas women's basketball players Jaclyn Johnson and Lynn Pride both recently played for international traveling teams.

While Jaclyn Johnson racked up the frequent-flier miles, Lynn Pride had to settle for prestige.

Johnson, a junior on Kansas University's women's basketball team, might have had a nicer summer trip than Pride, but Pride, a KU senior, had the honor of being one of just two collegians on a pro-dominated all-star team just a rung below the women's Dream Team.

Johnson's trip with the Big 12 All-Stars took her for a week-and-a-half stay in Finland and Sweden. Pride, meanwhile, played for the United States team in the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.

"Her trip sucked," Johnson said with a laugh. "Canada? At least I got to leave the continent."

But Pride -- whose all-whatever team appearances already had taken her to Mexico, Brazil, China and Taiwan -- didn't mind staying in North America for a change.

"I was excited it was right up north," Pride said. "A lot of countries' customs and ways of living can be hard to adjust to. Canada is so Americanized, that wasn't hard at all."

Getting adjusted to a team dominated by pros wasn't easy for Pride. Texas' Edwina Brown was the only other player on the U.S. team with college eligibility remaining.

"At first it was intimidating," Pride said. "(Coach) Nell Fortner talked to me beforehand. She had a lot of confidence in me. She told me just to do the things I was capable of doing. I realized I had to play my game."

That seemed more than enough to leave her mark on USA Basketball. Pride was the team's third-leading scorer with 12.9 points per game, and she averaged a team-high 30.9 minutes. She also led the team with seven rebounds per game.

"I never thought I'd lead anything on a team of this caliber," Pride said. "I just played my game. It's a great confidence boost, knowing I can have success on a team like this."

The team had some success, too, going 4-3 and winning the bronze medal -- in a tournament dominated by the Brazilian and Cuban national teams.

"We were sort of disappointed," Pride said. "With another week of practice, I think we would have won. But we only had a week to work with each other. It was real basic. There's only so much you can do in a short period of time."

Pride -- an All-America candidate -- expected to play with former KU All-American Angela Aycock, but Aycock was signed by the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury just before she was to report to the USA Basketball training camp.

"I was disappointed, but it was a happy-sad feeling," Pride said. "I was sad I didn't get to play with her, but I'm happy she got the opportunity. I wanted her to be a part of it."

Johnson, meanwhile, was tickled to be a part of the All-Stars' barnstorming trip.

"It was great," she said. "I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself. I learned I don't always have to be uptight to play. I play better when I'm just goofing off."

Johnson was the All-Stars' third-leading scorer with 11.2 points per game. She ranked fourth with 4.5 rebounds but also had a team-high 25 turnovers for a team that went 5-1.

"We practiced three times before we went over," Johnson said. "We weren't exactly firing on all cylinders. But 5-1 isn't bad since we only practiced three times. The first three games, we didn't play as well as the last three."

Maybe the grueling tourism took its toll.

"All we did was sightsee," Johnson said. "(OSU coach Dick Halterman) let us do whatever we wanted. We saw all these beautiful castles in Sweden, and we had a guide in Finland showing us around. We'd sightsee, then we'd play. They were like, 'Have a good time. This is a free trip, girls.'"

Johnson said she was determined to sample the local cuisine.

"They eat a lot of fish," she said, "a lot of salmon. I did try it all -- then I went to McDonald's."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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