Side by Side Rivals

By Jeff Lippman - July 18, 2007

Let me set the record straight once and for all.

Tennessee and Connecticut are rivals. The players who make up their rosters are not.

When USA Basketball held the Pan American Games team training camp at American University in Washington D.C., it brought together some of the best players from all over the nation onto one roster of 12 individuals with the same goal. Winning the gold medal for the colors red, white and blue.

So when the 2-3 zone that the Pan Am team will utilize often has a familiar back line of Nicky Anosike, Charde Houston and Alexis Hornbuckle, those players never let their school colors get in the way of team unity.

Anosike and Hornbuckle are members of the national title-winning Tennessee Lady Vols, while Houston, along with Pan Am team member Mel Thomas, play for Geno Auriemma and Connecticut.

Their coaches may not always see eye to eye and the annual meeting was just canceled by Tennessee for reasons that fans of the series don't understand, but the players are adamant that not now, nor have they ever, had any ill feelings towards the players on the opposing team.

“We all get along," said Hornbuckle of her Connecticut teammates. "I think the fans make it more of a non-social rivalry than it really is. We have always been friends.”

And UConn's Houston agrees saying: "I think it is amazing, just because they both cover a lot of ground and they both make up for other people’s mistakes. Just being able to play with them, as opposed to playing against them, it is just great in itself. This is about us going down to Brazil and winning a gold medal."

Want more proof that any perceived rivalry is just a myth? Chew on this little tidbit.

Hornbuckle will be rooming with Thomas in Rio, and Anosike will be with Houston.

And yes, they can all get along.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:50 AM on July 18, 2007

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