April 27, 2009
WHITE HOUSE PHOTO GALLERY
Washington, D.C. (AP) - Championship ceremony is a White House standard for sports teams. Shooting hoops with the president, now that's something to remember.
Moments after Monday's event in front of the South Portico, President Barack Obama hustled the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team over to the outdoor half-court, away from reporters and cameras.
The president, a former high school player and avid fan who still plays pickup games, prevailed in a brief, impromptu game of P-I-G with a few of the players.
"He was pretty good from 17 feet," said coach Geno Auriemma. "His shot's a little unorthodox, but it goes in ... He's got a little bit of that swagger."
Renee Montgomery, a senior guard, said Obama only missed one shot and that he sank a final fade-away shot from off the court.
"He was all over the perimeter," said junior center Tina Charles.
After about 10 minutes, Obama walked back to the White House with his sleeves rolled up and his suit jacket slung over his shoulder.
Connecticut dominated women's college basketball this season, going 39-0 and beating opponents by an average of better than 30 points. They capped the season earlier this month in St. Louis with a 76-54 victory over Louisville. It was Connecticut's sixth national college championship and third perfect season.
"Under coach Auriemma's leadership, this Huskies program has redefined excellence again and again," Obama said. The president also praised the academic achievements of the players.
The team gave Obama a basketball signed by the players and a Connecticut jersey emblazoned with "1" and his name on the back.
"Number One -- that's what I'm talking about," Obama joked. "I will wear it when I'm playing."
Obama said that as the father of two young daughters, he especially appreciates the success of female athletes like the Connecticut team.
"My girls look at the TV when I'm watching 'SportsCenter' and they see women staring back," Obama said of the ESPN program, a personal favorite. "That shows them that they can be champions, too."