Sept. 19, 2005
by Benton Strong, UW Media Relations
Breanne Watson spent her summer fulfilling an honor and a privilege in her home country. The University of Washington junior is from Richmond, British Columbia and for the second time she got the chance to play on the Canadian National Development Team. She played in the same international tournament that fellow UW player Bobby Jones competed in for the United States.
Both players went to a tryout earlier in the year, Watson hoping she would get shot at making the Senior National Team. She didn't quite make it, but says that team is still a goal in her future. Instead she settled on being a starter with more experience because of her previous stint in 2003.
"It was a great experience," she said. "I think that having gone two years ago to Korea helped me feel more comfortable and I felt I could be a leader on the team."
Watson will likely be a leader on this year's UW team as well as she is a returner who averaged 8.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game last season. The style of play in the international tournament should help her become a better and stronger player in the Pac-10.
"I feel like I've becoming a way better player because of it," she said. "The biggest difference would be the physicality of it. When you go international the refs to call anything. When you play NCAA ball there are more athletes. So it's just a different style."
Being an undersized forward Watson said the international game is harder for her. She was pushed and shoved and thrown around the key all summer, but she had to learn to defend that. And to defend for everybody shooting.
"You have to get used to a 6'4" girl shooting the three," she said. "You're not really prepared for that until you actually go. I think the skill level is higher than the NCAA because that's all they do, they work on ball handling and shooting, it doesn't really matter what size you are."
What no one can forget, however, is how different the rest of the experience is from playing in the US. Watson told stories of armed guards and escorts and talked about how each country had a block that they all lived in. She said it was the same two years ago in Korea, and actually a little worse because of the rivalry between the north and south.
"There were armed guards everywhere," she said. "There was drug testing after every game. You felt like more of a celebrity because it was such a big deal."
She said that most players were able to get over any fear and really just had a feeling of wondering why there is much security. For her it wasn't that big of a deal because in the end she just got down to playing basketball.
For the tournament she averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in six games. She missed the seventh game after injuring her elbow, an injury that still won't allow her to do much playing. Her team finished 11th with a 4-3 record, respectable even though Watson believes there are a couple games her team should of won.
The USA won the tournament by crushing every team that stepped on the floor by an average of more than 40 points and beating four teams by at least 50 points.
"I had mixed feelings about playing against the US," she said. "I think it would've been kind of exciting playing against those great players, also knowing they probably would've killed us. I don't think there is any team in the world that could compete with a roster like that."
Canada was a pool with Serbia, the silver medal team, but also with Lebanon, a team that scored 50 points only once and just 19 against the Canadians.
Watson looks back on this experience and at her goals and raises it up on the bar of things she's done. She is one of many athletes that play in the US, but make trips back home to play for national teams or local teams, really for one main reason.
"For me it's a huge honor," she said. "I know a lot of people don't get the opportunity to do that. Growing up that was my goal, to make the national team. And it's a way for me to play basketball in the summer. I can't exactly get into a gym in Canada like here. It's just a different way sports are accepted. Unless you play hockey it's a different story.
"To go to the World University Games, it was unbelievable. I can't even describe it."