Aug. 17, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Looking to continue its unprecedented run of four consecutive Olympic gold medals, USA Basketball today announced that eight of the athletes who helped the U.S. capture a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, will return to the red, white and blue as members of the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team. Forming the initial USA Women's National Team roster are three former Lady Vols in Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks). The trio all earned gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Joining them are two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); as well as '08 gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury). Player selections were made by the five member USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee.
As was the case over the last quadrennium, the USA team will be fluid and athletes will be added progressively to the
2009-12 USA National Team roster. It is expected that the official 12-member 2010 USA World Championship and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams, should the USA qualify, will be comprised of players from the 2009-12 USA National Team.
"Naming these eight players was not that difficult of a decision to make, I'm sure, because those eight were truly instrumental in winning the Olympics in Beijing," said 2009-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team head coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut. "As long as they want to play and maintain their level of play, I can't see them not being on the team. I'm excited about the fact that their experience and their knowledge of what it takes to win a gold medal is going to help me tremendously as we move forward.
"I'm looking forward to the training camp this fall. I know not all of them are going to be there, I would presume, because a few of them will be playing in the championship series in the WNBA. I understand that, but just to be around them to let them get a feel for me, it will give me an opportunity to evaluate what they can do, what they do well. It'll help me put them in a position to be successful. I'm really looking forward to that. And not just with the eight players that we're talking about, but also the players who will be added to finish off the training camp roster. It'll be an exciting time for me and I hope it's an exciting time for all of them."
Additional athletes and coaches will be invited to participate in the USA's first training camp, which will be held this fall (dates and site TBA) at a later date.
In addition to their Olympic experience, the eight named players have competed extensively internationally for USA Basketball. Bird and Catchings are two-time USA World Championship team members; while Augustus, Taurasi and Parker were on the 2006 USA World Championship Team, and Pondexter was an alternate for the 2006 USA World Championship Team.
In all, Augustus has captured five golds, one silver and one bronze medal in international competition; Bird and Catchings own six gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal each; Fowles has three golds and one silver medal to her credit; Lawson helped USA teams earn three golds, two silver medals and one bronze medal; Parker has three golds and one bronze medal; Pondexter owns a total of six gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze; while Taurasi lists four golds, one silver and two bronze medals on her USA Basketball resume.
Augustus suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee on June 17 and will not actively participate with the team in the fall, however, she is expected to attend the training camp.
In the past dozen years, the highly successful USA Basketball Women's National Team program, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, has posted a 63-1 slate in major international competitions, winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), two FIBA World Championship golds (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).
The USA Basketball Women's National Team will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in the Czech Republic); if necessary the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD); and if the USA qualifies, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games (July 26-Aug. 12 in London, England), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.
The U.S. will first look to capture the title at the 16th FIBA World Championship, with an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in `10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament; and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
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 and 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.
Quotes from Tamika Catchings
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), 2008 & 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2002 World Championship Gold Medalist, 2006 World Championship Bronze Medalist, 1997 U19 World Championship Gold Medalist.
What does it mean for you to be named to the USA Basketball Women's National Team again?
"What an awesome opportunity. I am so honored to be a part of the USA Women's National Team and look forward to representing my country again."
You've been playing for USA Basketball since high school. What motivates you to keep coming back?
"The thing that motivates me to keep coming back is being able to wear the red, white and blue, and compete for my country. Plus, the chance to play with the best players in the world is something that no one would turn down."
When you were on your first USA National Team in 2002 at the '02 World Championship, you were the youngest player. Now you're going to be the most tenured on the list. What have you learned from some of the now-retired veterans that you can pass along to some of the younger players and how do you see your role changing as the veteran of the team?
"I have learned a lot about leadership, about what it means to represent your country, sacrificing for the team, and being able to put aside your own individual accomplishments to put forth the best for the USA. I know for me being able to come in and watch the vets such as Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley helped me along my road to becoming a vet on this upcoming team. The biggest thing I see myself bringing is that leadership aspect. I think that the players that I have been able to play with, along with the player that I am becoming can help bring the best out of each other, and allow us to continue the tradition of USA Basketball."
Are you excited about getting back on the court with some of your 2008 USA teammates?
"Excited is not even the word to describe how I feel about getting back on the court with some of my 2008 USA teammates. I can't wait to get everyone together, and to start putting together the next team that will carry the torch on from here."
Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs), 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist
What does it mean for you to be named to the USA Basketball Women's National Team again?
"I'm excited for another opportunity to get a chance to play for a spot on the team. It's an honor to be chosen, and to have the chance to compete for a position for a competition (FIBA World Championship) I've never had the chance to play in before. That's exciting. It will be a new experience for me."
Are you excited about getting back together with some of your 2008 Olympic teammates?
"Oh yeah. That was a lot of fun. The chemistry our group had together and the way we really sacrificed to come together as a group, to play with one another, we had a lot of fun. Over the last couple of years it was a lot of fun every day to get in there and practice with the greatest players in the world."
After your experience in Beijing, are you more motivated to try and make the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympic teams?
"Absolutely. It's addicting. You get that chance to be a part of a special group of people. You don't get that opportunity very often in your career. To get another shot at it, to get another chance is something I'm really looking forward to. The pool, as we grow together, work together, as we continue to improve, the whole process is something that is really exciting. It was really fun to be a part of the last time. From where we started to where we ultimately got to was great to see."
What are your thoughts on playing for Geno Auriemma?
"I've had the opportunity to obviously play against his teams in college and I've had the opportunity to work with him in the stuff I've done with ESPN. I'm excited to be a part of a group of players with a coach who has been so successful in whatever he's done. He's shown a great ability to motivate players and to get great players to play very well together. I'm excited to be under his tutelage and continue to grow and learn as a player."
FIBA World Championship
The FIBA World Championship has been contested essentially every four years since 1953, and the United States captured the first two Worlds gold medals before the beginning of the Soviet domination of women's basketball was kicked-off at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture four of the next five World Championships (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002). The only other nations to break into the gold medal column at this event are Australia, the defending world champion, and Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take the top spot that year.
The USA owns a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 88-21 record at the event. In 2006, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. fell 75-68 to Russia in the semifinals, but rebounded to take host Brazil 99-59 in the bronze medal game and finish with an 8-1 record. Australia earned the gold after defeating Russia 91-74 in the final contest.
Already qualified for two of the 16 slots are host Czech Republic and the USA as defending Olympic champions. The 14 remaining spots will be decided through FIBA Zone (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania) qualifying tournaments in 2009.
The 16th FIBA World Championship format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play with four groups comprised of four teams each. The top three teams from each preliminary group advance to form two second round groups consisting of six teams each. Each team's results from its preliminary group carries over to the second round standings and each team will play the other three teams in the second round group whom they have not previously faced. The top four teams from those two groups will advance on to the medal round, and the gold medal game will be played Oct. 3.
|2009-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team Roster|
|5||Seimone Augustus||F||6-1||179||04/30/84||Minnesota Lynx||Louisiana State||Baton Rouge, LA|
|6||Sue Bird||G||5-9||150||10/16/80||Seattle Storm||Connecticut||Syosset, NY|
|10||Tamika Catchings||F||6-0||166||07/21/79||Indiana Fever||Tennessee||Duncanville, TX|
|13||Sylvia Fowles||C||6-6||200||10/06/85||Chicago Sky||Louisiana State||Miami, FL|
|7||Kara Lawson||G||5-9||165||02/14/81||Sacramento Monarchs||Tennessee||Alexandria, VA|
|15||Candace Parker||F/C/G||6-4||172||04/19/86||Los Angeles Sparks||Tennessee||Naperville, IL|
|4||Cappie Pondexter||G||5-9||160||01/07/83||Phoenix Mercury||Rutgers||Chicago, IL|
|12||Diana Taurasi||G/F||6-0||172||06/11/82||Phoenix Mercury||Connecticut||Chino, CA|
|Head Coach: Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut|