Wednesday, June 19, 2024

USA Basketball breaks silence on Caitlin Clark’s Paris Olympics omission

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USA Basketball has officially announced its roster for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The 12-player squad for the Olympics was revealed on Tuesday, four days after it had first been leaked.

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Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark was conteroversially left out of Team USA’s Olympic rosterCredit: Getty
'When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,' USA Basketball boss Jennifer Rizzotti said

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‘When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,’ USA Basketball boss Jennifer Rizzotti saidCredit: Getty

The biggest headline to emerge from the roster reveal, which was first reported by ESPN, wasn’t who was included, but who wasn’t.

Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark, who has helped lead a surge in the WNBA‘s popularity since being drafted first overall out of Iowa in April, was left out of the squad.

The decision to omit Clark proved hugely controversial, sparking heated debates on shows such as ESPN’s First Take, as well as countless comments on social media.

Clark was graceful when first addressing the decision in an interview with reporters on Sunday.

“I’m excited for the girls that are on the team,” she said.

“I know it’s the most competitive team in the world and I know it could’ve gone either way, me being on the team or me not being on the team.

“I’m excited for them, gonna be rooting them on to win gold.”

After days of silence on the matter, USA Basketball has finally addressed the decision to not include Clark.

“When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes,” Women’s National Team Committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti told The Associated Press, via ESPN.

“Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach] Cheryl [Reeve], and then sometimes a vote.”

Stephen A. Smith tells First Take producers to put his co-stars back on screen for passionate Caitlin Clark rant

Rizzotti’s explanation came two months after she left the door open to Clark working her way onto the Olympic roster in an interview with The Associated Press, as per Fox Sports.

“You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it’s for now or the future,” she said.

“We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty, and experience.

“It’s got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It’s still not going to be fair to some people.”

It seems that Clark’s “body of work” since arriving in the WNBA wasn’t enough, having averaged 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds in 13 games for the 3-10 Fever.

While Clark may not have made the cut, fellow guards Sabrina Ionescu, Kahleah Copper, Jackie Young, Jewell Loyd, Kelsey Plum, Diana Taurasi, and Chelsea Gray all did.

The remaining stars to make the roster were forwards Napheesa Collier, Alyssa Thomas, and Breanna Stewart, as well as centers Brittney Griner and A’ja Wilson.

Paris will mark Taurasi’s sixth Olympic Games, having won gold at each of her previous attempts.

Ionescu, Copper, and Thomas will be making their Olympic debuts in France.

The selections of Taurasi and Gray were perhaps the most eyebrow raising amongst this group, with the former set to turn 42 before the Olympics, and the latter yet to have played this season.

However, Taurasi, who herself was selected to an Olympic roster whilst a WNBA rookie in 2004, believes Clark will find her rhythm and move past any disappointment she may feel in the long term.

“The game of basketball is all about evolving. It’s all about getting comfortable with your surroundings,” she told USA Today.

“College basketball is much different than the WNBA than it is overseas.

“Each one almost is like a different dance you have to learn.

“And once you learn the steps and the rhythm and you have a skill set that is superior to everyone else, everything else will fall into place.”

Clark has averaged 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds in 13 games in a tough season for Indiana

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Clark has averaged 16.3 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds in 13 games in a tough season for IndianaCredit: Getty

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