COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Dec. 13, 2018) – After winning the 2018 FIBA World Cup with a perfect 6-0 record, the USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team today was named the 2018 USA Basketball Team of the Year.
The USA topped opponents by an average of 20.3 points per game from Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain, and the top finish qualified the USA for the 2020 Olympic Games.
“The FIBA World Cup always is an incredibly intense and competitive event, and what the U.S. team accomplished was remarkable,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “The roster was not finalized until just days before the competition, yet the USA played with great teamwork and was a joy to watch on and off the court.”
USA Basketball has presented the Team of the Year award annually since 1996.
Led by USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina) and comprised of seven athletes with prior Olympic and/or World Cup experience and five newcomers to senior-level international competition, the team earned the USA’s third-straight FIBA World Cup gold medal.
“We had a very good mix of young players in their first World Cup to experienced players,” said Staley, who was named the 2018 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. “To see the process work, which was scary at times in that we didn’t know who we would have and when we would have them, and then prepare together as a team, made it very special. They were super motivated to win every time we stepped on the floor. For us to do that time and again is incredible, because the rest of the world is catching up to us, and they’re catching up when we have less time to prepare.”
The USA featured tournament MVP Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), who was named the 2018 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) joined her on the five-player all-tournament team.
The team also included Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun), A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) and assistant coaches Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington University).
“We came together, because we had the ‘next person up mentality,’” Stewart said. “There were some people who were on the Olympic Team who didn’t come to the World Cup this year, so there were new opportunities for younger players who didn’t have as much experience playing for USA Basketball, but they stepped right up.”
The USA’s well-rounded effort featured five athletes who averaged double-digit scoring, and the USA beat previously undefeated Australia 73-56 in the gold medal contest.
Among the 16-team tournament the USA produced the top two points output, scoring 102 points against Latvia and 100 points against China, a game that saw the U.S. shoot a tournament-best 57.6 percent from the field. Further, the Americans led the field for scoring (87.7 ppg.), scoring margin, field goal percentage (.464) and 3-point field goal percentage (.359); and was second for free throw percentage (.822), rebounding margin, blocked shots (4.2 bpg.) and assists (23.7 apg.).
Prior to the World Cup, Staley led the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which featured a total of 35 athletes who took part in at least one of three training camps in 2018, to a 6-0 exhibition slate against Canada (two games), China, Japan, France and Senegal, as well as a Red-White intrasquad game.