July 9, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the fourth time in the past five years, Notre Dame senior Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) will suit up for a USA Basketball team in international competition, after the Fighting Irish All-America point guard was selected to the USA Basketball 3x3 National Team that will compete Aug. 23-26 at the inaugural FIBA 3x3 World Championships in Athens, Greece.
Diggins was named to the squad late Sunday night following the completion of the 2012 USA Basketball 3x3 National Team Training Camp/Tournament that was held earlier in the day at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. Joining Diggins on the American squad will be Bria Hartley (Connecticut), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland), with the USA team going 3-0 in Sunday's tournament, winning the gold medal game by a 21-10 count behind seven points each from Diggins and Thomas.
Diggins has extensive experience with USA Basketball, having earned gold medals with American teams at the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships (both the '08 and '09 squads were led by current Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens), and most recently at the 2011 World University Games, serving as co-captain for the latter two teams. The South Bend native collected her first USA Basketball gold medal in 2007 while playing at the USA Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs.
This year's FIBA 3x3 World Championships mark the latest step in the rapid growth of the 3x3 game in international circles, a development that began at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, when the 3x3 competition was the hottest ticket in town. Last year, FIBA held the inaugural 3x3 U18 World Championship in Italy, and has added this summer's World Championships in Greece for Senior Men's and Women's National Teams. The 24-team event, which will be held every other year, features four groups of six teams each, with each nation playing the other five in its group during round-robin play. The top four finishers in each group will advance to the knockout (medal) round.
Besides the United States, the other countries that have qualified for next month's FIBA 3x3 World Championships are: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Jordan, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Ukraine.
The rules for international 3x3 competition, although a bit more polished, are similar to those seen in pick-up games across the country. Games are 10 minutes in length or the first team to reach 21 points, scoring by ones and twos (a regular field goal is worth one point, a basket from beyond the arc is worth two points). There's also a 12-second shot clock and the team on defense must clear the ball out beyond the arc before beginning its offensive set. The games are officiated by one referee, with players limited to four fouls per game, and teams in the bonus (one free throw) after the seventh team foul, while shooting fouls are awarded one or two free throw attempts based on the location of the shot. A full rundown of the other rules for FIBA 3x3 competition can be found on the official FIBA web site at www.fiba.com.
Diggins will be the third Notre Dame women's basketball player to represent her country on the international stage this summer. Junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic) is the second Fighting Irish player who will compete in the Olympic Games (joining Ruth Riley in that historic club), as she and Team Canada head to London later this month for the Canadians' first Olympic competition since 2000. In addition, freshman guard Michaela Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) will be part of the United States roster for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship Aug. 15-19 in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
After going 35-4 in 2011-12 (posting a school record for wins in a single season), advancing to the NCAA national championship game for the second consecutive season and earning its second BIG EAST regular season title, Notre Dame will have two starters and eight total players returning in 2012-13, along with a three-player freshman class that includes Mabrey and was ranked as high as third in the nation by All-Star Girls Report (and is a consensus top-10 class by all major recruiting services). It's the 16th consecutive year that the Fighting Irish have attracted a top-20 recruiting class, with Notre Dame being one of only three schools in the country to hold that distinction.
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