LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It's not every day that your coach calls you, at least for that day, the best player on the best team in the world.
So Wednesday was special for Angel McCoughtry, the former University of Louisville All-American who leads the WNBA in scoring but is relishing her role off the bench as an energizing agent for the US women's basketball team in the 2012 London Games.
Against Turkey, the US was plodding along and even fell behind by a point. Then McCoughtry entered, and shifted the game into another gear. The US pulled away for an 89-58 victory.
McCoughtry rebounded, got to the free-throw line, defended, pumped her fists and eventually finished with a team-high 18 points.
"From the minute (McCoughtry) stepped on the floor to when the game ended she was the dominant player," US coach Geno Auriemma told The Associated Press.
In the post game news conference, he said, "Angel McCoughtry was the difference in the game today, without question."
Said US teammate Candace Parker: "Angel had a hell of a game."
McCoughtry is shooting a lights-out 73.3 percent from the field in the Olympics, averaging 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
It's not difficult to see how much the games mean to her. Playing on a team of Olympic veterans, perhaps she gets an edge from some of her first-time exuberance.
But for those of us who watched her as a freshman in college, where every foul call drew a pout, every instruction from the coach drew an eye roll and the slightest adversity could distract her from her game, to see her as the key energizing influence on the US women's Olympic team is rather remarkable.
It's rare that you get a such good seat for such a personal and career trajectory.