Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Selection Committee Chair Explains Caitlin Clark’s Omission from Team USA

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There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days about Caitlin Clark’s omission from the United State’s Olympic women’s basketball roster. This week, USA Basketball selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti explained the decision to leave the Indiana Fever rookie off the team.

“Here’s the basketball criteria that we were given as a committee and how do we evaluate our players based on that?” Rizzotti said, per the Associated Press . “And when you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes. Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote.”

Clark’s rookie campaign is off to a strong start statistically, averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. She was named the WNBA Rookie of the Month for May.

However, there are concerns about her experience and the physicality of the game at this level. While she’s done some tremendous things on the court, she’s also averaging 5.4 turnovers and 3.0 fouls per contest.

Ultimately, USA Basketball’s selection committee decided to keep Clark off this year’s roster.

Many have argued that omitting Clark from the team is a disservice to the women’s game. There’s a belief that, with the rookie on the roster, more individuals would tune in to see the U.S. women’s team in action during the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Rizzotti said it’s not on USA Basketball to select a team in order to attract viewership.

“It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team,” Rizzotti said. “Because it wasn’t the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the U.S. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl.”

This year’s roster includes Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Kahleah Copper (Phoenix Mercury), Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Breanna Stewart (New York Liberty), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun), A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces), Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces).

While her fans were upset, Clark took the news in stride. She will use it as motivation in future years, but says she’ll continue to root on Team USA, hoping the group can bring back the gold medal.

“Honestly, no disappointment. I think it just gives you something to work for. That’s a dream. Hopefully, one day I can be there,” Clark said. “I think it’s just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully in four years, when it comes back around I can be there.”

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