Guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have been named to the US Women’s Olympic Basketball Team for the fifth time, while six are first-time Olympians in the roster.
The US team of twelve, announced on Monday morning, will take part in the Tokyo Olympics, which will take place from July 23 to August. 8 – in pursuit of the seventh consecutive American gold medal in the sport. Dawn Staley of South Carolina, a player on the 1996 team that started this series of gold medals for the US women, is the coach of the Olympic team.
One of her former Gamecocks stars, striker A’ja Wilson, is among the first to take part in the Olympics. Wilson was the 2020 WNBA MVP for Las Vegas.
For the states. For the story. For the gold.
Our team is aiming for seven consecutive Olympic gold medals @ Tokyo2020
– USA basketball (@usabasketball) June 21, 2021
The others slated to compete in their first Olympics are Washington security guard Ariel Atkins, Minnesota striker Napheesa Collier, Phoenix security guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, Las Vegas security guard Chelsea Gray, and Seattle security guard Jewell Loyd . Wilson and Loyd were both on the 2018 FIBA World Cup winning team.
Seattle’s Bird and Phoenix’s Taurasi, former teammates at UConn, join a small group of five-time Olympians in basketball. Others on the women side who did this were Teresa Edwards from the US and Adriana Moises from Brazil. Among the men were the Spaniard Juan Carlos Navarro, the Brazilian Oscar Schmidt, the Australian Andrew Gaze and the Puerto Rico Teófilo Cruz.
“It’s just been a great journey when you think about playing for so long,” said Taurasi. “We’re trying to pass it on to the next generation. Focused on what we need to do to get home with gold. Tremendous competition like no other because of COVID, the delay in the Olympics. We’re really focused on getting gold.” win.”
Minnesota Center Sylvia Fowles has been selected for her fourth team, and Washington Center Tina Charles will be on her third Olympic squad.
Phoenix Center Brittney Griner and Seattle striker Breanna Stewart, who are on their second Olympic team, round off the US elections.
The two most prominent players who were on the 2018 World Cup team but are not on that Olympic squad are Washington striker / guard Elena Delle Donne and Los Angeles striker Nneka Ogwumike, both former WNBA MVPs. Delle Donne was on the 2016 Olympic team, but Ogwumike wasn’t selected that year, in her MVP season when she won a championship with the Sparks. Ogwumike was also not selected in 2012, her rookie season, when she was number 1 at Stanford. Ogwumike is the only MVP in WNBA history who was not called to an Olympic team.
Delle Donne missed all of last season and hasn’t played this season due to back problems. Ogwumike, president of the players’ union executive committee, played in the WNBA bubble last season and has played five games this season; On June 3, it was announced that with a knee sprain, she would be out for four to six weeks.
A Sparks spokesman said Monday that Ogwumike’s injury has since been viewed more optimistically than that it might only be three weeks out. While Delle Donne’s absence was expected by the Olympic team – she hasn’t played a game since the WNBA final in October 2019 – Ogwumike’s omission is more controversial. Especially since Taurasi – most recently on May 21 – failed with a sternum injury.
“It really breaks my heart that Nneka is not on this team,” said Staley. “I mean, if we had to make a decision in a month … I’m sure it would be healthy. I know this is one of the things she wanted to do. She came to every training camp, she was a great voice in our training camp and our trainings, we will definitely miss Nneka.
“I feel for the players who have been with us for the last three or four years [as part of the senior national team pool] and didn’t make the list. It’s nothing against what they are … just hard to come down to 12. We do this every four years and it gets more difficult. “
Even so, Staley said she loved the combination of experience and youth on the team. Bird, 40, and Taurasi, 39, are the oldest. Atkins, Collier, and Wilson are the youngest at 24; Atkins and Wilson will be 25 years old during the Olympics. Diggins-Smith, who turns 31 at the Summer Games, is the oldest player on the team to make her Olympic debut.
“You need a pretty good mix, especially if you want to win a gold medal today and also boost the future,” said Staley. “I think it’s enough to win a gold medal. We just have to use our last training camp before we go to Tokyo.”
This camp takes place in mid-July in Las Vegas and includes competing with a team of other WNBA stars in the All-Star Game on July 14th and exhibitions against Australia on July 16 and Nigeria on July 18.
“USA basketball has never been in a better place,” said Staley, who won three Olympic gold medals as a player and was assistant coach for two other Olympic championship teams. “I am honored to coach such a great collection of talented women, both those who have been called to the team and those who have given their all over the past few years but will not be with us in Tokyo.
“The fact that some of the players who won’t wear this summer would be competing for another country is testament to their talent and what USA Basketball has done to build a program that our female athletes put on every day New promotes. “
Staley’s assistant coaching staff includes three WNBA characters: recently retired Seattle head coach Dan Hughes, Minnesota head coach and GM Cheryl Reeve and Connecticut team president Jennifer Rizzotti.
The U.S. Olympic Team Selection Committee is chaired by U.S. Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan and includes former Olympian and current Minnesota Lynx assistant Katie Smith, WNBA league director Bethany Donaphin, Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller, and UConn- Coach Geno Auriemma, of the 2012 and ’16 Olympic teams.
The US women open the preliminary Olympic round on July 27th against Nigeria, then against Japan on July 30th and France on August 2nd. Teams that advance to the medal round will compete against each other in the quarter-finals on August 4th. The semi-finals are on August 6th. the bronze medal game on August 7th; and the gold medal game on the morning of August 8th (in the US, it will be on the night of August 7th at 10:30 am ET).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.