Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson will provide her take on the women’s basketball action in Rio. The 2015 All-Star can offer a unique perspective after participating in the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team Minicamp and having played for U.S head coach Geno Auriemma at UConn.
I don’t think this gold medal was ever in doubt. Going into the Olympics, USA basketball expects to win the gold medal, and that’s how hard they work, just what they prepare for. They go into every game thinking that have to play their best and get the win because they want the gold medal.
Also, they are so confident in themselves and understand the challenges that may face them. I’m so happy to see everything come together and watch them win the gold.
Getting Sue back was a big for them today. Having her leadership in the gold medal game was vital. She has the experience of being in that situation before and of course has the talent to find open people and get open shots. I’m sure they felt a little bit of a weight lifted off their shoulders when they knew she was going to be on the floor.
Although, it wasn’t just Sue. Having Tamika and Diana on the floor there was also incredibly important and I think they helped a lot too. They have so much experience with the Olympic games and the overseas style of ball that anytime the squad would go on a drought or make a mistake, those three would step up and right the ship. They just have the type of leadership experience that they know when to step up and take over.
Out of the now three four-time gold medalists, Diana in particular was the one to step up. Her scoring output did surprise me a little bit just because of how much talent that’s on the team but at the same time everyone knows what she’s capable of. She’s one of the best for a reason, and everyone knows that.
She looked great in Rio. Whether it was shooting in rhythm or getting to the basket, she’s always a fun player to watch.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this was huge for Breanna Stewart and she handled her first Olympic experience well. I was so proud of her for how far she’s come and where she’s gotten to today. Winning a gold medal at 21 years old is an incredible feat.
She’s been playing up her whole life. She’s been with USA basketball already for so many years that it’s no surprise she didn’t have any nerves in the Olympics. She knows how to play the game, and is confident in herself. This just adds another level to her game as she’s now experienced the ultimate pressure of being on an Olympic team.
From top to bottom, this United States team is one of the best ever, but it’s hard to say where they really rank because there have been so many great USA basketball teams over the years. The history of it is so deep that it’s hard to compare, but there’s no doubt that this team is up there.
Going forward there’s a really big opportunity for a lot of players to step up now and become that next generation. There’s so many players in the younger generation that have improved their game and want to be a part of USA basketball. It helps having younger players like Elena, Stewie and Brittney on this team so they can now be those leaders for the next crop of USA talent.
This march towards gold has been inspirational. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to be in that position going forward and it makes me want to work that much harder to get to that point. Seeing the joy on the faces of the women when they win the gold is just amazing. I definitely look forward to one day having that opportunity because I would be honored to be a part of it. Go USA!
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