Feb. 13, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Highlighted by a trio of two-time Olympic gold medalists and featuring a total of nine players who have won Olympic gold, 21 USA Women's National Team members were today named as finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team. The player selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee.
Three of the players selected were Olympic gold medalists from the University of Tennessee in Tamika Catchings (1997-01), Kara Lawson (1999-03) and Candace Parker (2004-08). Catchings was a USA gold medalist in Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008), while Lawson and Parker joined Catchings on the Beijing team.
"Obviously, I am excited for Tamika, Kara and Candace," said University of Tennessee Lady Vol head basketball coach Pat Summitt. "As Olympic gold medalists already, they each know firsthand the amount of work they have ahead of them to secure a spot on the team again. The Lady Vol basketball family is extremely proud of them."
Over the years, 14 Lady Vol basketball players have made 17 appearances in the summer Olympic Games since 1976.
"Now that we're down to 21 finalists, you look around and you see a group of players that have tremendous experience," said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. "(We have) players that have won (Olympic) gold medals, won World Championships, there are WNBA champions on the list, players that have won in Europe in international competition. You've got a group of players that have experienced everything there is to experience and as a coach, as someone who's been around these players, I couldn't be happier with this group. They represent the best of what the United States has to offer."
The 21 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team include: Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars), Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Rebekkah Brunson (Minnesota Lynx), Swin Cash (Chicago Sky), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Baylor University), Lindsey Harding (Atlanta Dream), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).
"When you're trying to pick a team," said Auriemma. "It's important that you don't just say, `ok, well, we're just going to get the best player and that's all there is to it.' You're trying to put together the Olympic team. So, you're trying to find players that fit together very well, that are very compatible, they complement each other's strengths, hide each other's weaknesses. So, we're going to have to decide: What kind of team do we want? What are the dynamics that we're trying to achieve? In the end, are we prepared for anything the other countries are going to throw at us and do we have something for every occasion? As we're picking the team, those things are going to be really crucial."
Headlining the finalists roster are 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medalists Bird, Catchings and Taurasi. They were joined on the 2004 Olympic gold medal stand by Cash and on the top of the podium in 2008 by Augustus, Fowles, Lawson, Parker and Pondexter.
All 12 members of the 2010 USA World Championship Team, which earned the USA's London Olympic berth by virtue of claiming the '10 FIBA World Championship, are still in the running for a spot on the 2012 team. Those athletes include: Appel, Bird, Cash, Catchings, Charles, Dupree, Fowles, Jones, McCoughtry, Moore, Taurasi and Whalen.
Bird and Catchings are three-time USA World Championship Team members, having also won gold in 2002 and bronze in 2006; while Augustus, Parker and Taurasi competed on the 2006 USA World Championship Team that returned with the bronze medal.
Twenty of the 21 athletes compete professionally in the WNBA and most continue to hone their games during the winter in China or Europe. The lone collegian is Griner, who has the chance to be the first collegiate athlete selected to a U.S. Olympic women's basketball team since 1988 (Vicky Bullett, Maryland; Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee).
Auriemma will be assisted in the USA's quest for a gold medal by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.
2012 Olympic Games
Four-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the U.S. will look to capture its fifth straight and seventh overall gold medal and extend its 33-game Olympic winning streak at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. The Olympic basketball competition will be held July 28-Aug. 12 in the Olympic Park Basketball Arena (preliminary round and quarterfinals) and North Greenwich Arena (semifinals and finals).
The draw to determine the two preliminary round pools of six teams each is scheduled to be held April 28 at the FIBA Central Board meeting in the Ivory Coast. The preliminary round, played July 28-Aug. 5, will feature a round-robin schedule and the top four finishing teams will advance to the Aug. 7 quarterfinals. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 9 and the finals will be played on Aug. 11.
Seven countries have claimed spots in the eventual 12-nation field, including host country Great Britain; the United States, which earned its berth by virtue of earning the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship; and five nations which earned the gold medal at their respective FIBA zone qualifying tournaments, including Angola (FIBA Africa), Australia (FIBA Oceania), Brazil (FIBA Americas), China (FIBA Asia) and Russia (FIBA Europe).
The final five teams will earn their spots at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (June 25 - July 1 in Ankara, Turkey), which will feature 12 nations from each of the five 2011 FIBA zone qualifying tournaments as follows: two from FIBA Africa, including Mali (bronze medalists) and Mozambique (fifth-place finisher); three from FIBA Americas, including Argentina (silver medal), Canada (bronze medalist) and Puerto Rico (fifth-place finisher); two from FIBA Asia, including South Korea (silver medalist) and Japan (bronze medalist); four from FIBA Europe, including Turkey (silver medalist), France (bronze medalist), Czech Republic (fourth place) and Croatia (fifth place); and New Zealand (silver medalist) from FIBA Oceania.
The USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee is comprised of WNBA representatives Reneé Brown, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations; Dan Hughes, head coach/General Manager of the San Antonio Silver Stars; and Chief Operating Officer/General Manager of the Indiana Fever Kelly Krauskopf; athlete representative and five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards; and USA Basketball Women's National Team Director Carol Callan.