Taurasi Named To 2012 Olympic Team
USA Basketball today announced the first 11 members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team. Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is included on the roster, making this her third Olympic team after having won a gold medal at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.
Also named to the squad are two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever); 2004 Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash (Chicago Sky); 2008 Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks); as well as Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) who are playing on the Olympic stage for the first time. One slot remains for the eventual 12-member U.S. squad and the final athlete will be selected at a later date.
“I think anytime you’re choosing a team made up of the best players, not only the best players in the country, they’re some of the best players in the world, it’s very difficult to come to a team of 12. While 11 players have been selected to be a part of the 2012 Olympic Team, some really, really good players are still in the mix for that final spot,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “I think for the 11, the committee took into consideration what the competition is and who we’re going to have to beat, and put together a really incredible group of players that is not only highly skilled and competitive, they’re proven winners. You have Olympic gold medal winners, World Championship gold medal winners, NCAA champions, WNBA champions, European champions. It’s just a group of unique individuals that I’m really, really looking forward to coaching.”
In addition to the combined 10 Olympic gold medals, all 11 players have won a FIBA World Championship medal and three U.S. team members have earned USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors, including two-time winner Taurasi (2006, 2010), Augustus (2007) and Charles (2009).
All eleven athletes compete professionally in the WNBA and most continue to hone their games during the winter in China or Europe.
Auriemma will be assisted in the USA’s quest for a gold medal by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.
2012 Olympic Games
Four-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the U.S. will look to capture its fifth straight and seventh overall gold medal and extend its 33-game Olympic winning streak at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. The Olympic women’s basketball competition will be held July 28-Aug. 11 in the Olympic Park Basketball Arena (preliminary round and quarterfinals) and North Greenwich Arena (semifinals and finals).
The draw to determine the two preliminary round pools of six teams each is scheduled to be held April 28 at the FIBA Central Board meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The preliminary round, played July 28-Aug. 5, will feature a round-robin schedule and the top four finishing teams will advance to the Aug. 7 quarterfinals. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 9, and the finals will be played on Aug. 11.
Seven countries have claimed spots in the eventual 12-nation field, including host country Great Britain; the United States, which earned its berth by virtue of earning the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship; and five nations which earned the gold medal at their respective FIBA zone qualifying tournaments, including Angola (FIBA Africa), Australia (FIBA Oceania), Brazil (FIBA Americas), China (FIBA Asia) and Russia (FIBA Europe).
The final five teams will earn their spots at the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (June 25 - July 1 in Ankara, Turkey), which will feature 12 nations from each of the five 2011 FIBA zone qualifying tournaments as follows: two from FIBA Africa, including Mali (bronze medalists) and Mozambique (fifth-place finisher); three from FIBA Americas, including Argentina (silver medal), Canada (bronze medalist) and Puerto Rico (fifth-place finisher); two from FIBA Asia, including South Korea (silver medalist) and Japan (bronze medalist); four from FIBA Europe, including Turkey (silver medalist), France (bronze medalist), Czech Republic (fourth place) and Croatia (fifth place); and New Zealand (silver medalist) from FIBA Oceania.