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Seimone Augustus says UConn has outsized hold on women’s basketball


A new women’s sports podcast has hit the scene, with Kate Fagan and Jessica Smetana bringing a magazine-style podcast that enters sports “through the side doors of pop culture and comedy.”

The podcast offers up a mix of interviews, skits and discussions that offer up a different viewpoint on women’s sports and “those who have critiqued them.”

First up as a guest on the podcast is none other than four-time WNBA champion and current Los Angeles Sparks’ assistant coach Seimone Augustus. At roughly the 14:30 mark of the podcast, Fagan and Augustus get to talking about the Team USA basketball process, the protection players are under as part of the team and the Olympics snub of Nneka Ogwumike, which was hotly contested amongst basketball circles.

“Once you’re under that USA Basketball shield, they’re celebrating you more than anything,” Augustus said on the podcast.

“Everybody heard the buzzing about Nneka and what happened,” she continued. “But you didn’t hear it at the Olympics, you didn’t hear it during the exhibition games. You didn’t hear it throughout that time. It was just like, let’s focus on celebrating the women more than anything.”

Still Augustus says that more of those hard discussions need to happen in regards to USA Basketball.

“Nneka isn’t the first and she probably won’t be the last in those situations,” she said, adding that as a former player she wants to see the process improve and for the basketball talent to have a greater say.

“Everybody can agree that Nneka was a player that, her talent is definitely there, has been there and will always be there. But for whatever reason, that particular situation didn’t allow for her to be a part of that team.”

Fagan then gets into how, while there is plenty of scrutiny on the men’s side of the game, not enough people understood on the women’s side why Ogwumike did not make the team. At times, Fagan feels as though this can be attributed to UConn’s influence on the women’s game.

“I don’t know that there’s another program in any sport that has as much influence at every level of a sport,” Fagan said. “I don’t think Alabama football has an outsized influence in the NFL. Yeah, they’ve got a lot of players, but I look at UConn and I’m like, the power of UConn at every different level and where it gets you? I don’t think there’s another model like that across sports.”

“Haven’t seen it,” Augustus said. “Like you said, there’s a lot of [Alabama] players in the NFL, but not to the point where it’s kind of controlling the system and the flow in which certain organizations or entities operate. UConn has definitely had a stronghold on those situations.”

Still, Augustus asserts she wants to see the whole process leading up to Olympic selection addressed — not just UConn’s so-called stronghold on the game of basketball.

“The issue that needs to be addressed is the process,” she said. “What is the process? Why does it vary or change for certain players at certain times in certain moments?

“Because this is the second time that Nneka’s going through this, [2016] was the first time in which, same identical thing: didn’t miss a camp, didn’t miss any assignment, showed up for every event. Everything that is always asked of us was done.

“So, what am I supposed to do when the line is moved and it’s like, ‘oh well you didn’t do that much, you wasn’t popular enough.’ I didn’t know popularity was a part of the thing. I thought it was talent. I thought we were basing it on what I was able to bring to the team. But, you know, depending on the player. Depending on who, when, where, it’s your personality. It’s your hair. It’s your attitude.”

You can listen to more of the podcast, and the discussion about Team USA and UConn, here.