USA Basketball (13-0) at WNBA All-Stars
(0-0) 7:00 pm EDT
NEW YORK (N.Y.) August 5, 2004 -- Part exhibition, part Olympic send-off, part training game, The Game at Radio City between the U.S. Women's Senior National Team and the WNBA All-Stars will take place at Radio City Music Hall in New York, N.Y. at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.
The U.S. team is made up of both returning Olympians and first-timers. Sparks center Lisa Leslie, Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes and Sting guard Dawn Staley will all be going for their third gold medal. Minnesota Lynx guard Katie Smith and Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith each won gold in 2000 and will be back for more.
"We’re not approaching this game like it’s an exhibition or it’s WNBA All-Stars," Swoopes said. "Right now, they’re the enemy. It’s just like going over and playing Russia or Australia right now."
The first-time Olympians on the U.S. team include Seattle's Sue Bird, Detroit's Swin Cash and Ruth Riley, Houston's Tina Thompson, San Antonio's Shannon Johnson, Indiana's Tamika Catchings and Phoenix rookie Diana Taurasi. The team is coached by four-time WNBA champion coach Van Chancellor.
"For the USA team, this is a warm-up game for them, looking for their timing and spacing," Hall-of-Famer and past Olympian Ann Meyers said. "They can still have fun. They have been together for a long time and know how to have fun and how to be focused."
The WNBA All-Star team is made up of players selected by the media, WNBA coaches and the fans. The starters, chosen by the media, will be Mercury guard Anna DeForge, Shock forward Cheryl Ford, Sun forwards Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Nykesha Sales as well as Sparks guard Nikki Teasley, who was the 2003 WNBA All-Star Game MVP.
The first five reserves, as chosen by the WNBA coaches, are New York's Becky Hammon, Detroit's Deanna Nolan, Indiana's Natalie Williams, Charlotte's Allison Feaster and L.A.'s Mwadi Mabika. Sun guard Lindsay Whalen was chosen as the sixth WNBA All-Star reserve by fans in an online ballot.
"This team that the WNBA put together for us to play is closer to what we’ll see in the Olympics," Chancellor said. "They’re small. And they have good shooters."
The U.S. National Team comes into the game has heavy favorites, but don't count the WNBA team out.
"I don't think the score will really matter, but what they are trying
to work on certainly does," WNBA analyst Nancy Lieberman said. "Would the U.S. like to win? Absolutely. Would they have a lot of explaining
to do to the casual fan if they lost? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, it's not about the score. It will be about whether they were able to execute."
After this game, the U.S. National Team will participate in a two-day tournament in Salamanca, Spain. On Saturday, the U.S. will face France on Sunday in the opener. The United States begins Olympic play against New Zealand on August 14.