As the United States (3-0) gets set to take on its next test in Canada (3-0) on Friday afternoon in Rio, here’s everything you need to know leading up to tip-off.
Spreading The Wealth
With a roster loaded with talent and scoring potential at every position, United States head coach Geno Auriemma preached ball movement prior to his team’s journey in Rio. Thus far in the Olympics, his team has granted his wish.
The United States has 90 assists on 125 made baskets, an incredible 72% clip. Team USA is led by Sue Bird, who has 16 assists and just one turnover, but it has gotten contributions up and down the roster, with six different women totaling double-digit dishes. Additionally, six players are also averaging double-digit scoring as well.
Canada, who is only allowing 67.6 points per game, will have its hands full with the United States, who has scored over 100 points in each of its three games in the Olympics.
Star-Filled Second Unit
Team USA comes at it’s opponents in waves and they really are 12 deep.
For example, the second and third leading scorers for the United States are Breanna Stewart (13.7 PPG) and Angel McCoughtry (11.3 PPG), and neither of them have started a game in the tournament. In fact, Stewart is only averaging 13 minutes per game, meaning she is scoring over one point per minute and shooting an incredible 75% from the field. The WNBA favorite for Rookie of the Year is also having a tremendous first trip to the Olympics.
Other decorated bench players for the United States include 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and three-time gold medalist Tamika Catchings.
Battle Of Unbeatens
It’ll be a Group B showdown on Friday as the two unbeaten teams square off in Rio. While the United States, seeking its sixth straight gold medal, is heavily favorited, they’re far too experienced to think they can walk over Canada.
Their leaders know the Canadians will be tough, as Diana Taurasi said as much in her interview during the United States men’s win over Australia on Wednesday night.
Achonwa vs. WNBA Foes
Canada’s Natalie Achonwa will square off against so many of her WNBA peers on Friday afternoon in Rio.
The Indiana Fever center will also be facing her WNBA teammate Tamika Catchings, whom she has played alongside all season in Catchings’ farewell tour of a final season.
Achonwa scored seven points in nine minutes against Senegal, her highest scoring output of the Olympics thus far. She has been used sparingly but possesses the skills to make an impact in limited minutes.
Student, Meet Teacher .. And Former Teammate
When Canada’s Kia Nurse looks towards the United States sideline, she’s going to see a familiar face on the bench in Auriemma.
After all, she has played for him at UConn for two seasons, winning a National Championship both times. Nurse’s familiarity with his offensive and defensive schemes may help Canada a bit, but perhaps talent may trump insight at the end of the day.
Nurse will also be facing her former UConn teammate Stewart, who has since become a star for the Seattle Storm. It’s a small world, especially in the world of professional women’s basketball, where the cream of the crop generally go to the same schools and enter the WNBA and compete internationally.