For Asjha Jones, an 'awesome' experience

Asjha Jones, for the first time in her uber-successful basketball career, was faced with a concern that many have dealt with on the playground or in high school.

"None of us have ever had to try out for a basketball team in our life," Jones chuckled as she described her USA Basketball experience. "It's a new experience having to try out and worry if they like you.

"Usually people choose you right from the beginning. They seek you out. Now I was thrown into a situation where I had to make a team. From the beginning, I didn't know what to expect. I had to pack for a month even though I might not make the team."

Jones got the gig she was one of 12 players selected to represent the United States at the recent FIBA world championship and contributed to its gold-medal win. It was a gratifying win for Team USA, which settled for bronze at the 2006 worlds.

"It was much better than I expected," Jones said. "Right from the beginning (training camp), it was awesome. Just being around everyone. It was almost a reunion with UConn. We had coach (Geno Auriemma) back. We had CD (UConn assistant Chris Daley) for training camp. Shea (Ralph, a former Huskies player and current assistant) was there. There were UConn players (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tina Charles, Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi). It was like a blast from the past. Just being around (Auriemma's) system again, it was awesome.

"Being part of the best team in the world, that's an awesome feeling. I had to stop myself from walking around with the gold medal on. ... Every once in a while, I almost have to pinch myself."

Jones averaged 12.5 minutes, 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in the team's nine games.

Jones said she feels good physically. She had surgery last February to remove debris from her left Achilles' tendon, an injury that forced her to miss the final 11 games of the 2009 Connecticut Sun season. She missed the first four games of this summer's Sun season and struggled to regain her form. It wasn't until late in the year that she played and looked like her usual All-Star self.

"I've been feeling well since the Sun season was over," Jones said. "I had 10 days before training camp started, so I put my feet up and rested until then. I felt pretty fresh going into training camp. It helped when you only played a few minutes here and there. That was our biggest luxury playing with USA Basketball you played at most 20 minutes a game. Your bench (was deep) and you played 12 players. Other teams played seven or eight. ... That definitely helped players like myself that had nagging injuries."

Jones doesn't plan on playing overseas during the WNBA offseason. She spent the last few seasons playing for Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg, but has chosen to give her body the rest it hasn't had since she graduated from UConn.

"I should be dying to get back to the game after this break," Jones said. "I've told some people that I don't know what's going to happen in December. If I think I need to play around Christmastime, I'll think about it if the opportunity is there. Right now, I don't forsee that.

"If I need to get ready for the summer, I'll do that."

n.griffen@theday.com

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