Mercury Guards Among Gold Medalists Named To 2009-12 USA Basketball Womens National Team

Posted: Aug. 18, 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 Womenís National Team. Forming the initial USA Womenís National Team roster are two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); as well as í08 gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury). Player selections were made by the five member USA Basketball Womenís 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.

ďNaming these eight players was not that difficult of a decision to make, Iím sure, because those eight were truly instrumental in winning the Olympics in Beijing,Ē said 2009-12 USA Basketball Womenís National Team head coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut. ďAs long as they want to play and maintain their level of play, I canít see them not being on the team. Iím 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.

ďIím 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. Itíll help me put them in a position to be successful. Iím really looking forward to that. And not just with the eight players that weíre talking about, but also the players who will be added to finish off the training camp roster. Itíll be an exciting time for me and I hope itís an exciting time for all of them.Ē

Additional athletes and coaches will be invited to participate in the USAís 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 Womenís 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 Womenís National Team will compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 23 Ė 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 Ď10, 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 Womenís National Team Player Selection Committee is comprised of WNBA representatives Reneť 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 Womenís National Team Director Carol Callan.