Professional tournament elevates Chapman defense

Playing professional athletics are a dream of college competitors everywhere, but this nearly became a reality for last year’s women’s basketball team. Nine players returning this season and four graduating seniors competed against professional basketball clubs in an international tournament in Taiwan. After raising $33,000 in a span of three months, the team went abroad to compete in the 34th William Jones Cup July 7-11.

Storming through the 2012 season’s gates with a commanding 5-1 record, Head Coach Carol Jue thinks the trip constructed a well-oiled machine in this year’s Panther squad.

“The trip really gave the team a chance to prove they could play in my system,” Jue said. “Being together 24/7 for seven days allows you to get to know your teammates in a different way, where they bond and go to battle for each other in a foreign country”

The six teams (from India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the United States) all met in Taipei this summer for the tournament, and Chapman represented the U.S. The Panthers went winless with a 0-5 stint, but Jue believes it was about more than winning.

“It was about not giving up, hustling and seeing if we could make plays against pro teams,” Jue said. “And we did.”

Senior guard Emily McCoy said the trip helped her mentality, allowing her to bond with her teammates heading into her last season as a Panther.

“When you learn to travel with people you grow closer,” she said. “Our defense has come a long way, and we picked it up quicker because of the tournament this summer.”

Having missed out on the trip as an incoming freshman this year, guard Lauren Sato thinks the team has shared the experience with everyone in the program regardless of who went to Taiwan.

“They don’t make us feel bad for not going, but instead they help us get better with the wisdom they gained,” she said. “I can tell that there is serious chemistry from playing together before the season.”

Jue continues to run her signature high intensity defense that forced 30 turnovers from George Fox University last week. She said the system is not easy to learn or execute.

“You’ve got to be in shape and believe in what I’m selling, which is defense,” Jue said. “Our offense is our defense and we want to be in your face all the time. We try not to give opponents any offense.”

In the five games against top-level competition, the team tested its ability to establish a strong defensive front with this exhausting approach.

“It was like having a second season,” Jue said.

Jim Chen, Jue’s close friend and a referee for the International Basketball Federation, gave Chapman an invite to the William Jones Cup. The trip was funded solely from team fundraising events such as the Cherry Blossom Festival – a fundraising event held in the Piazza where the team sold homemade chow mein and fruit cups with donated ingredients from local markets – and multiple garage sales.

“It was very hard to raise the money,” Jue said. “I forgot I was a coach for a while. I was focused more on getting money out of my friends, which I hate doing.”

Due to NCAA restrictions, the team is only allowed to take such a trip every three years. But given the team’s experience this summer, Sato anticipates the prospect of going later in her college career.

“It’s definitely something I would look forward to,” Sato said. “When we come back, it would be something we could always look back and reflect on.”

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