Tari Phillips Competes for Spot on USA Squad
"This will continue to get us ready for the Olympics," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor. "It'll give us an opportunity to evaluate more players and give us a look at different styles of play. I understand that some of the teams we'll play in Europe have WNBA players and that'll make the games more of a challenge. All of this will be good for us in our training for the Olympics."
"It's very important that we compete against these teams that play the international style of basketball," said USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee chair Renee' Brown, WNBA Vice President for Player Personnel. "It's very important that our players get together and learn Van's style of coaching and learn about each other as a team. We have a mix of veterans and rookies and the Committee's hope is that this training will continue to help them build the team chemistry they need in order to compete at the highest level."
Following the March 19-28 European Tour and after a short break, the available USA core members, as well as hopefuls to be announced, will regroup for the final training session at the 2004 NCAA Women's Final Four in New Orleans, La., on April 2. Following the Final Four, the USA team will continue its training through April 13 at sites to be announced.
Following the April training, the U.S. team members will break for the WNBA season and reconvene on Aug. 3 to complete their pre-Olympic training at sites to be announced.
Chancellor is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). The nine previously announced core group members of the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team include Sue Bird(Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars), Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles Sparks), Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx), Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets). The nine internationally experienced athletes are expected to represent the United States at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, August 13-29.
The U.S. will be without the services in Europe of its All-World center Leslie, who had a prior commitment, and Milton-Jones, who suffered a torn ACL (right knee) on Feb. 22. Staley, who is the head coach at Temple University and did not train with the team during it's February camp, will join the United States upon the completion of her collegiate season.
The available U.S. core members, along with Swin Cash (Detroit Shock) and Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock), who were on the U.S. team for its three games against Cuba; 2002 FIBA World Championship gold medalist Tari Phillips (New York Liberty), Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) and Michelle Snow (Houston Comets), will begin play in Poland. After a practice on March 19, the U.S. will face the Polish National Team on March 20 in Gdansk Staroguard at 1:30 p.m. (all times local), and on March 21 the U.S. will go up against 2004 EuroLeague member Lotos VBW Clima in Gdynia at 4:00 p.m. Following the pair of games in Poland, Swoopes will return to the United States due to a prior commitment.
The USA will be hosted twice by 2003 European Championship silver medalists Czech Republic, March 23-24 in Brno, with both contests tipping-off at 5:00 p.m.
The United States will face its final European competition in Hungary. Playing in Pecs against 2004 EuroLeague member Mizo-Pecsi VSK on March 27 (time TBD), the U.S. will close its European tour against the Hungarian National Team in Budapest on March 28 (time TBD).
All five of the USA team candidates participating in the European tour have previous USA Basketball experience. In helping the U.S. to its 3-0 record in Cuba, Cash, in her first USA Basketball appearance, averaged a team third best 8.7 ppg. and second best (tie) 5.0 rpg., while Riley contributed 5.0 ppg. and 4.3 rpg.
Phillips was a member of the 2002 USA World Championship Team that earned the gold medal in China and collected the 2002 Opals World Challenge title prior to the Worlds. Phillips also earned a bronze medal at the 1993 World University Games and a silver at the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival. Riley, who was a 2002 USA National Team hopeful and participated in the squad's spring training, was a member of the 1998 USA Basketball Select Team that finished 7-1 against national teams from Puerto Rico, Poland and Spain, and returned to USA Basketball the following summer to help the 1999 USA World University Games earn a silver medal. Snow collected gold as a member of the 2000 USA R. William Jones Cup Team, while Tangela Smith earned silver at the '97 Jones Cup and also won bronze at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Competing in Russia this season is Snow, who averaged 15.0 ppg. and 11.4 rpg. for Moscow Dynamo, which has clinched a berth in the 2004 Europe Cup Final Four. Phillips has played professionally in Europe since 1992 in Italy, France, Spain and Turkey, and competed for Levoni Taranto in the Italian league during the 2003-04 season.