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Cameron hosts USA game

It isn't Duke basketball season just yet, but Krzyzewskiville will take on a party atmosphere tonight in preparation for the U.S. Women's Senior National Team's exhibition game against Australia.

A variety of student and University organizations have come together to host pre-game events in front of Cameron Indoor Stadium that will include free food, prize give-aways, speeches from players and free tickets to all students who wish to attend the game.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m., with ticket distribution set for 6:15 and the game tipping off at 7. Alana Beard and Diana Taurasi will address the students outside Cameron at 6 p.m.

"This isn't a Duke basketball game, but we wanted to create the same spirit to bring the community together around this great program," said Kristina Johnson, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, who helped put the evening together. "One of the great stories around athletics this year is Coach K and Coach G on the national teams. With all the publicity about the other things in athletics, this is a huge thing to show how Duke is providing nationally."

The tickets, which are available to the public starting at $7, were purchased through funding provided by Trinity College and Pratt discretionary funds, the women's basketball program, the Office of Student Affairs and a personal contribution from Johnson.

Johnson said she hopes the fans provide a warm welcome back to Beard--the all-time leading scorer in Duke women's basketball history--and come out to support Blue Devil head coach Gail Goestenkors, who is serving as an assistant coach under Anne Donovan for the team.

"The idea started back in the spring when Coach G was approached to be one of the coaches on the national team," Johnson said. "She said, 'Can you help promote the game?' I said it would be my great privilege and honor.

"Students go to sports for free-what a good way to kick this off," Johnson said.

The national team's game against Australia wraps up its two-week training camp in the Triangle. The team has practiced in Cameron each day, and it has hosted open practices at Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State's home arenas.

The Australian team is one of the United States' fiercest international opponents. Australia won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, losing to America in the title game, 74-63. Its team has 11 WNBA players.

The U.S. roster is composed of an all-star mix of WNBA players as well as Tennessee forward Candace Parker, who was one of the three final players named to the squad Wednesday.

Johnson said she and the others involved in planning of the pre-game festivities expect a large crowd at the game to cheer on the national team before it leaves for Brazil to compete in the 2006 FIBA World Championships, beginning Sept. 12.

Though 1,000 tickets have been specifically allocated for students who wish to attend, Johnson said no students will be turned away from the game.

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