Asjha Jones had a very insightful remark about Geno Auriemma when she was in Prague last month on the USA national team tour of Europe.
The 1.91m power forward/center is one of the many in the United States squad to have played for the coach at the University of Connecticut.
Jones, now 31, was asked how USA boss Auriemma's coaching style had changed from when she played for him nearly a decade ago at UConn.
"In college, he was dealing with kids and now he's dealing with adults," she said.
"Now (as USA coach), he has to ease up a little bit and can't be so critical.
"I think he's much more relaxed."
Auriemma does smile a lot when he’s with the United States.
Jones is one reason why.
She was a positive influence on the American team that won the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women.
It was Auriemma’s first tournament as the national team coach.
He had Jones coming off the bench early in games at the World Championship in the Czech Republic and she ended up averaging 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Always reliable, Jones was solid, if not spectacular.
In the EuroLeague Women of late, however, Jones has been spectacular.
Jones has scored 19, 24, 25 and 21 points in her first four games with Rivas Ecopolis in Madrid.
In the club's last two games, a come-from-behind home victory over Sparta&K Moscow Region Vidnoje on October 26 and Wednesday night's win at in-form Lattes Montpellier in France, Jones had 10 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
Jones, who also competes in the WNBA, is playing as if this season is a little more important than all the others.
She knows that a solid showing with Rivas will strengthen her chances of making the Olympic team.
When she was playing and practicing with the USA in Prague, Jones was relaxed but also very serious.
She has a lot riding on this year.
"I'm not the youngest person out here so for me it might be my last opportunity to make the Olympic team," she said.
"So that would be very important for me and my family."
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images