Six Olympic Gold Medalists Among 11-Member Team Set To Participate In WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game
Named to compete in the game for USA Basketball were: Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty) . “This training camp is the first and only opportunity that I’m going to have the chance to be with the majority of the players that were in the last Olympics that were a part of our core group,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who will guide the USA National Team through 2012. “So whatever amount of time we have, it’s going to be used in the best way that we can. We’ll get a chance to see how they interact with each other. They’ll get a feel for me, and I’ll get a feel for them and we’ll play the game and go from there.
“I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to coach them and to get a feel for them in game situations,” Auriemma continued. “So, I’m really excited. Some of them I haven’t seen play yet, and I really haven’t had a chance to see some of the guys that I had coached before. I haven’t had a chance to be around them since they graduated, so all-in-all I think the Stars at the Sun game will be great opportunity for me, and it’s a great opportunity for them as well.”
Bird was the top vote getter in the online fan balloting and was joined on the list of fans’ top 10 favorites by Cash, Catchings, Parker and Taurasi.
Additional USA National Team members confirmed to attend the July training camp are: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Shameka Christon (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
USA National Team hopefuls Jayne Appel (Stanford University), who attended the team’s first two training camps, but was injured and unable to participate, Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever) and Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty) will practice alongside USA National Team members in the hopes of being added to the squad at a later date. Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx) are injured and unable to participate in the training camp.
Available USA team members will begin practice at 5:00 p.m. on July 8 at Connecticut College, with media availability to precede practice from 4:30-5:00 p.m. On July 9 the team will open its practice, held at the Mohegan Sun Arena, to the public at 2:45 p.m. U.S. players who do not have to immediately return to their WNBA teams following the July 10 game, will remain in Connecticut to scrimmage the Australia National Team on July 11 at 11:00 a.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The USA versus Australia scrimmage is not open to the public.
As the head coach at the University of Connecticut, Auiremma has led the Huskies to seven NCAA championships, including the 2009 and 2010 titles. In his first stint as head of the national team Auriemma led the U.S. to a 3-0 slate against a trio of Europe’s top professional teams at the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg Invitational.
This marks the second time a USA National Team will go against a team comprised of WNBA standouts. Prior to the 2004 Olympic Games the U.S. faced a team comprised of WNBA players in an exhibition game at Radio City Music Hall. In an exciting send-off for the U.S. team that eventually captured gold in Athens, the USA was led in the 74-58 victory by Lisa Leslie’s 15 points.
Auriemma will be assisted through the 2010 FIBA World Championship by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors. 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).