Diana Taurasi says she healthy, ready for Olympics

Team USA's Diana Taurasi competes against China in Team USA's Diana Taurasi competes against China in an exhibition women's basketball game in Seattle. (May 12, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Diana Taurasi is healthy again and raring to go.

The Phoenix star missed the Mercury’s last 16 games with a hip flexor and ankle injury, but said she is ready for the Olympics, which begin in two weeks.

“I’m feeling really good, I’ll be ready to go,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview this week. “I can’t wait to get to D.C. to start playing again.”

The Americans will train together in D.C. for two days before playing Brazil in an exhibition game Monday night. From there they will head to Manchester for a game against Britain before a five-day training session in Istanbul.

The 30-year-old Taurasi, who will be playing in her third Olympics, didn’t have any worries that she’d miss the London Games.

“No, I didn’t have any fear, I knew I’d be ready to play,” Taurasi said. “Coach (Geno Auriemma) and I have been texting each other a lot, he’s excited. Whenever we get together with the national team, it’s an exciting time. The Olympics is an amazing opportunity to show all the hard work we’ve put in as individuals.”

Despite only playing 36 minutes so far this WNBA season, Taurasi isn’t concerned that she’ll be out of game shape. Her rehabilitation began in late May with three weeks of physical therapy before moving on to a strength and conditioning stage. She didn’t get back onto the court until about three weeks ago.

Taurasi plans to use the training camp in Washington D.C. this weekend as a chance to get herself back into game mode.

The former UConn star isn’t the only member of the U.S. women’s national team who has been banged up in the early part of the WNBA season. Atlanta standout Angel McCoughtry has been sidelined since July 1 with a left knee sprain.

“I anticipate that Angel will be a full strength by the time training camp opens on Saturday,” said Dream coach Marynell Meadors, who is an assistant on the Olympic team. “She’s been rehabbing and working all week on getting her knee stronger so that she can play without pain.”

Sue Bird and Seimone Augustus also missed games in the early part of the WNBA season, but Taurasi wasn’t worried.

“People play a lot of basketball,” she said. “Sue’s taken some games, Seimone with her hip. Everyone’s missed a game who is on the Olympic team. Once we get together in D.C., we’ll be 100 percent and ready to go.”

Taurasi also wasn’t worried that the lawsuit facing coach Auriemma will be a distraction to the team’s ultimate goal of winning a fifth straight gold medal.

“We’re all old enough that we’ve been through a lot of distractions in our life,” she said. “We will keep the ultimate goal in focus and try to do our best. Everyone will be fine.”

The U.S. women’s national team opens up its Olympic play on July 28 against Croatia. Other teams in the Americans’ group are China, Angola, the Czech Republic and Turkey.

The other group consists of Australia, Russia, France, Canada, Britain, and Brazil. The Australians will be missing Taurasi’s friend and Mercury teammate Penny Taylor, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

“Penny was the glue of their national team when they won the worlds in ‘06, she was the best player at that tournament,” Taurasi said. “With her missing, it’s going to affect you. They’ll find a way to get other people to contribute. She’s disappointed, she’s worked so hard to get to the point to get to London.”

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