MYSTICS' BEARD, HARDING ADDED TO 2010-2012 NATIONAL POOL

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 3, 2010) -- Twelve internationally experienced players, including one Olympic gold medalist, have been added to the 2010-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team roster, USA Basketball today announced. The 12 athletes bring the pool of players from which the 2010 USA World Championship Team and, should the USA qualify, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected to 20.

All 12 athletes have prior USA Basketball experience and include Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (University of Connecticut), Shameka Christon (New York Liberty), Candice Dupree (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (University of Connecticut), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx). Player selections were made by the five member USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.

“As always, any time I'm associated with USA Basketball it’s an honor and privilege that I don't take lightly. It’s an opportunity to play and do something amazing for our country. It is the pinnacle of women's basketball,” said Beard.

The athletes join previously announced USA National Team members and two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); as well as ’08 gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury).

“This is one step closer to accomplishing my dream. Being a part of the national team gives me the opportunity to compete at the highest level and play with some of the best players in the world,” added Harding.

As was the case over the last quadrennium, the USA team will be fluid and athletes will be added progressively to the USA National Team roster. It is expected that the official 12-member 2010 USA World Championship Team and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, should the USA qualify, will be comprised of players from the 2010-12 USA National Team.

Among the additions are two USA Basketball honorees. Charles and Wiggins were the 2009 and 2007 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, after helping U.S. teams earn two gold medals each. Charles in 2009 collected gold with the USA World University Games Team and earned her second gold of the year as the only collegian on the USA National Team in the UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational. Wiggins in 2007 helped USA teams earn gold at the FIBA U21 World Championship and Pan American Games and was an alternate on the USA National Team that competed in the FIBA Americas Championship.

Including the 2004 Olympic gold medal earned by Cash and the 2006 FIBA World Championship bronze medal earned by Beard, the 12 additions to the USA National Team boast of a combined 32 gold medals, three silver medals and three bronze medals. Some of those gold medals include the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship (Cash); FIBA U21 World Championship (Beard, Whalen - 2003 / Wiggins - 2007); FIBA U19 World Championship (Wiggins - 2005 / Moore - 2007); 2007 Pan American Games (McCoughtry, Wiggins); FIBA Americas U20 Championship (Christon, Whalen - 2002 / Montgomery - 2006); and the FIBA Americas U18 Championship (Beard - 2000 / Wiggins - 2004 / Charles, Moore - 2006).

Assisting Auriemma through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno and Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom.

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 gold medals (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).

The U.S. will look to capture the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will be held Sept. 23 – Oct. 3 in Brno, Karlovy Vary and Ostrava, Czech Republic, with the gold medal winner earning a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Sixteen nations have qualified to compete in the FIBA World Championship. The USA has been placed in Group B, and will face France, Greece and Senegal in the first round of games. The 12 remaining national teams were distributed as such: Group A includes Australia, Belarus, Canada and China; Group C consists of Brazil, Mali, South Korea and Spain; and Group D is comprised of Argentina, Czech Republic, Japan and Russia.

The preliminary round will be played Sept. 23-25 utilizing a round-robin format within each preliminary round group. The top three finishing teams from each group will advance to second round play, with the top teams in Groups A and B merging into Group E and the top teams in Groups C and D forming Group F. The twelve teams qualified for the second round, which will be played Sept. 27-29, will feature six teams in each group and each team will play the three new teams in its second round group. Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the second round will advance to the Oct. 1 quarterfinals. Semifinals are slated for Oct. 2, and the finals will be contested on Oct. 3.

First and second round games for Groups A and B will be held in Ostrova, while Brno is the first and second round site for teams in Groups C and D. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be held in Karlovy Vary.

Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in ‘10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee is comprised of WNBA representatives Reneé Brown, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations; Dan Hughes, 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 Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan.

FIBA World Championship

The FIBA World Championship has been contested essentially every four years since 1953, and the United States captured the first two gold medals before the beginning of the Soviet domination of women’s basketball was kicked-off at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture four of the next five World Championships (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002). The only other nations to break into the gold medal column at this event are Australia, the defending world champion, and Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take the top spot that year.

The USA owns a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 88-21 record at the event. In 2006, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. fell 75-68 to Russia in the semifinals, but rebounded to take host Brazil 99-59 in the bronze medal game and finish with an 8-1 record. Australia earned the gold after defeating Russia 91-74 in the final contest.