Team USA ready for business in quest for Olympic goldJuly 27, 2012
Nearly five months have passed since USA Basketball announced its Women’s National Team roster. When the Olympic torch is lit during tonight’s opening ceremonies, the discussion about expectations will cease as the XXX Olympiad begins.
If there is any singular word that describes the USA Women’s National Team, it would be “teammates.” USA head coach Geno Auriemma, who also coaches the UCONN team, has six of his alumni on the 12 person roster, while Louisiana State University and the University of Tennessee are each represented by two players. Louisville and the University of Minnesota each have one player on the squad.
However, the comparisons go further than college. The WNBA is also well represented on the USA team with the Minnesota Lynx sending three players, Connecticut Sun and Chicago Sky with two representatives each, while the Seattle Storm, Indiana Fever, Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks each have one. That means that all 12 players have at least one teammate on the roster from either their college years or the WNBA, and that does not include overseas professional play. This Olympic team is not only talented, but used to playing together, which makes for a dangerous combination that will make them tough for their opponents to stop.
“It’s a great group of people to be around, Team USA,” said guard Lindsay Whalen. “It’s been four-and-a-half months of answering questions of what the Olympics are going to be like, so now I get to tell everyone what they’re like instead of predicting.”
The Olympics are important to these players, not because of any career enhancements they may receive, but rather because it validates that they are considered to be the top 12 basketball players that America has to offer.
“It feels great to be a part of the national team. The national team is the best of the best and just to be there for a second time is a blessing and it’s an honor to have this opportunity,” said center Sylvia Fowles. “It’s important to me because not everyone gets an opportunity like this and just to be a part of it is truly a blessing. I’m just really happy to be a part of the team.”
Forward Swin Cash echoed her teammates sentiment. “It’s the pinnacle of someone’s career, to be able to play and represent your country. I’m blessed and honored to do this, and I hope that we will be able to win gold,” she said.
Forward Seimone Augustus, who is also playing on her second Olympic team, keeps things in perspective.
“The Olympics is just an opportunity for us to be able to play against and with the world’s best players, to go and enjoy seeing other athletes in that element. We want to go and see the track and volleyball players and gymnastic athletes. It’s an opportunity to share a great experience, not only with ourselves and our families, but I have two teammates with me, so it will be a lot of fun,” she said.
Since her last Olympics in 2008, Augustus has undergone some hardships. She sustained a season-ending ACL tear during a game against the Phoenix Mercury in 2009. She was having an MVP-type year prior to the injury. Just before the Minnesota Lynx training camp opened to begin the 2010 season, she had surgery to remove fibroids, which delayed her return to the Lynx lineup. During this time, she also received word that her father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Things turned around for Augustus last year when she led her Lynx squad to their first WNBA championship, was named the 2011 WNBA Finals MVP and named to the Olympic squad earlier this year. Her triumph over tragedy makes this year’s Olympiad that much more special.
“With all the things I’ve been through, it’s going to mean a lot. To share this experience with teammates is even better. I’m excited that my family will be there to share this moment with me,” she said.
Center Tina Charles is one of those Olympic teammates that is looking forward to playing with Augustus instead of against her. Until now, they have never been teammates.
“I’ve never played with Seimone Augustus on this level before,” said Charles. “I’m looking forward to the opening ceremonies. I hope it’s everything I remember watching as a kid.”
There was one late addition to the roster when forward Asjha Jones was added to the roster when Baylor University’s Brittney Griner announced that she would not participate this year.
“For me to get the call, I was ecstatic and honored,” said Jones. “We’ve all been in the [WNBA] for a while now, so it’s going to be fun. Sue [Bird] and Swin [Cash], we spend a lot of time together. They’re like my sisters.”
So far, Team USA has dominated against their opponents in exhibition play, most of whom they will be playing again during the Pool A Preliminary Round. They sport a 5-0 exhibition record by winning games against China, Brazil, Great Britain, Croatia and Turkey. Their average margin of victory is 34 points per game.
After tonight’s opening ceremonies, the team knows that it is time for them to get down to business.
“We’re going out there and playing collectively well as a team and handling our business, and not losing our focus for why we are in London,” said Fowles.
Cash said, “My only expectations are to, one – win the gold, and two – enjoy myself and enjoy the process.”
Forward Maya Moore admits that she’s taking it all in stride while still enjoying the experience.
“To get a chance at age 23 to represent my country at the Olympics is something I’m going to be smiling about for the rest of my life,” she said. “To have Seimone [Augustus] and Lindsay [Whalen] there makes me smile, especially to come back from injuries and different trials that Seimone did. It’s really fun and there’s going to be a comfort level with those two Lynx teammates.”
Augustus gives her first-time Olympic teammates a bit of advice from someone who has been there before. “I tell them to just enjoy the moment. It’s going to be crazy. We’ve got a lot of stuff to do in a short period of time, but whenever we can, just try and enjoy the moments as they come around,” she said.
The business side of Team USA begins on Saturday when they face Croatia in preliminary round play. They will face Angola on Monday, Turkey on Aug. 1, the Czech Republic on Aug. 3 and wrap up the round against China on Aug. 5. The quarterfinals are scheduled on Aug. 7, semi-finals on Aug. 9 with the Bronze and Gold Medal games on Saturday Aug. 11.
3 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Team USA ready for business in quest for Olympic gold all information are reading then helpful in ours college competition is win. Thanks for sharing Olympic gold information.
Many thanks for the article, it was interesting and compelling. I discovered my way here through Google, I?ll return one more time :)
Many thanks for the article, it was interesting and compelling. I discovered my way here through Google, I?ll return one more time :) for more information, please visit the website: