Sept. 14, 2012
LOGAN, Utah - Two new Utah State women's basketball players have taken their talents overseas in recent weeks, competing in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3-on-3 tournament.
Freshman forward Stephanie Bairstow (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) will be playing for Australia in the Under-18 bracket of the 3-on-3 World Championships tournament later this month in Madrid, Spain.
Senior guard Cristal Turner (Scunthorpe, England) who comes to Utah State from Oral Roberts University, played in the older division of the same tournament at the end of August in Athens, Greece.
The two players each took a few minutes to talk about the experience of playing in the prestigious tournament.
Stephanie Bairstow: Tell us about the tournament and how you got involved: "It's like the World Championships for 3-on-3 except for we all represent Australia. A couple months ago they called me to see if I wanted to play in a national 3-on-3 tournament. I went to that in Sydney, then at the end of that tournament they had a panel of coaches watching us who selected a team of four players for this one as well as a coach. We'll all go to Spain on Sept. 24."
Have you played with your teammates before? "One of them is from my team. Neither of us expected to make it since our team came in third. The other two are from Victoria, which was expected since they are good."
How many Australian teams are in the tournament? "There's the 18 and under team, which is mine. Then the older team is playing in Argentina and they're there now."
How are you feeling about this upcoming season at Utah State?
"I'm really excited. I've lived in this environment before, like at the Australian Institute of Sport, so I'm used to moving away from home to play. I'm really excited about this team because they play my style of game. I think we'll be good."
What is it like to work with and play for Coach Finkbeiner? "He's so funny! He's very laid back and you can joke with him without having to be too serious. At the same time, he's very helpful. I haven't really trained with him yet, but I can already get a sense of what he's like and it's good."
Cristal Turner: Talk a little bit about playing in the tournament and the experience you had: "It was a great experience. It's the first time they've done anything like it, so just to be a part of that was incredible. We did really well. We were in a really tough group with Spain, Russia, Turkey, Romania and Jordan. To be able to get out of that group was an achievement. We made it to the top 16 and then got knocked out by Hungary when we lost by three. We should have beaten them, but we just didn't play well that game. Even to come in the top 16 was great."
What was the format of the tournament? "There were I think 24 teams from all over the world. I played with three other British girls. I've played with two of them for the last 5-10 years on national teams and stuff, and I actually went to college with, so we played together the last few years."
How was Athens? "I actually lived there when I was little, but I didn't remember it, so it was great to be back. It's incredible there. There's so much history there. You could see the Acropolis from where we played. The venue we played at was some historical building. They put the courts in front of it and then would raise it up so it was just overlooking Athens."
What are some of your favorite experiences from playing in this tournament? "It was just cool to be around some of the players that were there. We had some of the great college players. Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame) was there, Chiney Ogwumike (Standford) and a couple of the girls from UConn were there. Even on the men's side they had Olympic players and world champions. For them to even be around us was incredible."
What are your goals for the upcoming season at Utah State? "As a team, our goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament. We want to do well and have a good season."
Utah State women's basketball will begin official workouts on Oct. 4 as they prepare for their exhibition season-opener against New Mexico Highlands on Nov. 2.
Fans can follow USU women's basketball and Utah State athletics at http://twitter.com/USUAthletics, as well as on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/USUAthletics.
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