Wednesday, June 19, 2024

U.S. Olympic women’s basketball roster named to seek record-breaking gold in Paris

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USA Basketball announced its 12-player Olympic women’s roster for Paris to seek a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

Diana Taurasi, who turned 42 on Tuesday, was named to her sixth Olympic team, putting her in line to become the oldest Olympic basketball player ever and the first female basketball player to compete in six Olympics.

“I still want to play at a high level,” Taurasi said in April when asked why she came back for another Olympic run. “I’m still willing to put the time into train and, to me, basketball’s everything. It’s my whole life. I know a lot of people always want to be something else. I don’t.”

The team also includes 2022 FIBA World Cup MVP A’ja Wilson, Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart and Brittney Griner, who like Stewart goes to her third Games.

In Tokyo, Griner scored 30 points in the final win over Japan, the second-highest total in an Olympic game in U.S. women’s history.

Napheesa Collier, Chelsea Gray and Jewell Loyd also return from the Tokyo Olympic team, which ran the U.S. win streak in Olympic play to 55 games dating to 1992.

The American women are currently tied for the longest gold-medal streak in any Olympic team sport with the U.S. men’s basketball team, which won seven in a row from 1936 through 1968.

Last fall, Wilson said there was “tons of pressure” to extend the streak.

“I guess the pressure reliever is knowing that it’s not just me,” she said. “We’re not in it just for myself. It’s my teammates as well, and we lock in more than ever when it comes to playing in the Olympics and for one another and for gold.”

Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young made the team after taking gold in the first Olympic women’s 3×3 tournament in Tokyo.

The Olympic rookies are Kahleah Copper, Sabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas.

Thomas, 32, will be the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s basketball rookie in history, breaking Asjha Jones’ record from 2012.

For the second time in history, an Olympic roster includes four players from the same WNBA team: the two-time WNBA MVP Wilson, Gray, Plum and Young from the Las Vegas Aces.

Last year, the Aces became the first team to repeat as WNBA champion since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002.

In 2016, the team had four players from the Minnesota Lynx (Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen).

The U.S. head coach is Cheryl Reeve, who also coaches the Lynx.

NCAA Player of the Year and WNBA No. 1 overall draft pick Caitlin Clark did not make the team.

Clark has never played a senior national team game and missed the chance to participate in her first senior national team camp in April due to a scheduling conflict with her Iowa Hawkeyes playing in the Final Four that week.

No woman has made the Olympic team without prior senior national team experience since at least 1992.

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

The U.S. women open Olympic group play July 29 against Japan in a rematch of the Tokyo Olympic final. The quarterfinals are Aug. 7, the semifinals Aug. 9 and the gold- and bronze-medal games Aug. 11.

All of the U.S. Olympic basketball rosters have been announced. The women’s 3×3 (roster here), men’s 3×3 (roster here) and men’s 5×5 (roster here) were all announced earlier this spring.

Diana Taurasi played her first game for the U.S. senior national team on April 9, 2004.

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