Getting To Know Senegal
After winning the 2015 Afrobasket, the Senegalese women will be playing with pride for their country in just their second Olympic appearance as a basketball team.
The US will be focusing their attention on the captain of Senegal, Aya Toure, a 6-foot-1 shooting guard/small forward who was the 2015 AfroBasket MVP. The 33-year-old also won MVP in 2009 so she will be looking to put on a show for the fans in what may be her last Olympics. Senegal beat Cameroon 81-65 to capture the 2015 AfroBasket title behind Toure’s 17 points. Even with no WNBA players, the Senegalese squad will be giving their maximum effort in an attempt to upset the juggernaut US team.
Who Will Start For The US?
As head coach of the team Geno Auriemma has the enviable position of having too much talent and depth on the team to make for an obvious starting five like many other countries will have.
“We’ve started a different five in every game that we’ve been on this trip. Will we settle on a five when we get there (Rio)? I don’t know. I’m not sure. The circumstances might dictate. So right now, I like the fact that everyone of them feels that tonight could be me.” The United States technically had four different starting lineups during their exhibition games but there were four mainstays who started each game: Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Tina Charles.
The fifth spot saw Sylvia Fowles start against the Select Team, Elena Delle Donne start when playing her homecoming at University of Delaware, UConn legend Breanna Stewart took her turn when the team played Canada in Connecticut and Tamika Catchings got the start at MSG in what may be her final game there barring a Playoff series against the Liberty.
Each player offers their own strengths and a safe bet is that the lineup will change based on the opponent. If the team needs to go big then Fowles offers offense and defense on the interior and size compared to Catchings who offers her overall veteran experience and versatility to play with any lineup. Delle Donne also could be be very valuable as a super-sub who provides the team with an instant scoring spark whenever they need it.
Will Chemistry From WNBA Carry Over To The Olympics?
Developing chemistry on the basketball court can be difficult for any team that isn’t given the proper amount of time, even a team as talented as the United States. With just a few weeks to practice and play in exhibition games, the US will be relying on the inherent chemistry of a team which has lots of WNBA connections.
The Minnesota Lynx are well represented with four players: Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles. Their experience winning the 2015 WNBA Championship will be a boost whenever any combination of these players share the floor. Moore, Whalen and Augustus also were on the Lynx for their titles in 2011 and 2013 so their understanding of each other cannot be underestimated.
WNBA legend Sue Bird joins her fellow Storm teammate Breanna Stewart to form a lethal pick and roll combination for opposing defenses. Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury are two of the best players on the planet, and will look to build off momentum from the Olympics into a Playoff push in the last 10 games of the season.