U.S first lady Obama poses with the Team USA women's basketball team following an athletes breakfast in London (Photo : Reuters)
Team USA’s women’s basketball team is hoping to bring their fifth consecutive gold medal at London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, as they start the tournament against Croatia on Saturday, July 28.
The team, led by Coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut, has won a medal since the introduction of women’s basketball at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Since then, Team USA has earned six non-consecutive gold medals, one silver medal, and a bronze medal. The team’s gold medal streak began, appropriately, on USA soil at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.
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The athletes will be entering the 2012 London games with a 33-game winning streak that was set back at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics when the women faced Cuba for the bronze medal.
The athletes making up this year’s squad come from eight different WNBA teams. The 2011 WNBA Champions Minnesota Lynx have three of its members playing for Team USA with forward Seimone Augustus, forward Maya Moore, and guard Lindsay Whalen.
The women’s basketball tournament features two groups, Pool A and Pool B, for the preliminary round before going into sudden-elimination games.
Unfortunately for Angola and Croatia, both entering the women’s basketball competition for the first time, Team USA is currently the favorite to dominate Pool A and ultimately winning gold. The teams within Pool B, however, feature stronger competition for Team USA, with Australia, Brazil, Canada, France Great Britain, and Russia.
Despite the strong competition in Pool B, Coach Auriemma is confident in his players, notably guard Sue Bird.
“She's not just the best point guard in America right now. Sue is the best point guard in the world right now,” said Auriemma. “She's a tremendous ball handler and passer. She just sees the game, she understands it and she understands people. She knows what she has to do to get other teammates to play their best. She's a great leader. She has a tremendous amount of credibility. And she knows what it takes to win.”
Bird, a 31-year-old from New York, is making her third Olympic appearance and has been averaging 10 points during WNBA games.
Other members from Team USA to look out for are Moore, forward Sylvia Fowles. guard Diana Taurasi, and guard Candace Parker.
Moore, the youngest in Team USA at age 23, has averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game during exhibitions leading up to the Olympics. Fowler is considered one of the breakout stars at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics averaging 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Taurasi started all eight games, averaged 10.9 points at the Beijing Olympics. For Parker, the first woman to ever dunk in the NCAA tournament, averaged over nine points per game at Beijing and is considered as the most talented forward on any team in London, according to Bleacher Report.
Team USA’s main threatfor gold might come from Team Australia, featuring fellow WNBA star Lauren Jackson. USA and Australia have faced each other for the gold medal at three prior Olympic Games.
Team USA’s Game Schedule:
USA vs. Croatia (July 28, 11:45 a.m. EST)
USA vs. Angola (July 30, 5:15 p.m. EST)
USA vs. Turkey (August 1, 5:15 p.m. EST)
USA vs. Czech Republic (August 3, 5:15 p.m. EST)
USA vs. China (August 5, 11:45 a.m. EST)
Quarterfinals: August 7 (Time: TBD)
Semifinals: August 9 (Time: TBD)
Final: August 11 (4:00 p.m. EST)
Team USA Roster:
Seimone Augutus - Minnesota Lynx
Sue Bird - Seattle Storm
Swin Cash - Chicago Sky
Tamika Catchings - Indiana Fever
Tina Charles - Connecticut Sun
Sylvia Fowles - Chicago Sky
Asjha Jones - Connecticut Sun
Angel McCoughtry - Atlanta Dream
Maya Moore - Minnestoa Lynx
Candace Parker - Los Angeles Sparks
Diana Taurasi - Phoenix Mercury
Lindsay Whalen - Minnestoa Lynx