Selecting five Olympians who have captured a combined eight Olympic gold medals, USA Basketball today announced the 12 international veterans who will represent the U.S. at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will be held Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in Ostrava and Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. The player selections, made by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee, were announced following a two and a half-week training camp that included four exhibition games.
Named to the 2010 USA World Championship squad are two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); 2008 Olympic gold medalist Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky); 2004 Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash (Seattle Storm); as well as top-tier international newcomers Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (University of Connecticut), and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
In addition to their Olympic experience, Bird and Catchings have played in a pair of FIBA World Championships, winning gold in 2002 and bronze in 2006, while Taurasi was also on the 2006 USA World Championship squad; and each member of the USA team has won at least one gold medal on a previous USA Basketball team.
"The process has been unbelievably difficult. It's taken a lot out of us, the committee, coaches, staff," said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "It was probably the most difficult time that I've had as a coach in 35 years. When you have to say goodbye to players as committed to USA Basketball as Kara (Lawson) and Seimone (Augustus) have been, it's very, very, very difficult. But there's so much uncertainty in our post players position that we had to make some very difficult decisions. I think the team that was picked is a terrific team. It's a terrific group of kids and the next nine games will give us an opportunity to prove that."
"This was an extremely difficult decision for the committee to make," said USA Basketball Women's National Team Director and USA Selection Committee member Carol Callan. "After four exhibition games and the scrimmage against the Czech Republic, we believe we have selected the 12 players who will make the best team to be competitive at the World Championship. These players fill various needs that this team has in terms of the international styles of play that we will face in the Czech Republic.
"Players not selected have been and remain a vital part of the USA National Team program and we appreciate the effort they gave throughout our training camps in helping the USA prepare for this important competition. Again, it was not an easy decision to make. Any combination of the 14 finalists would make a formidable team, which is why this was such a tough decision to make."
The USA opens World Championship play against Greece on Sept. 23 at 6:00 p.m. (noon EDT) and all of the USA's games will air live on NBA TV. The U.S. will tip-off against Senegal on Sept. 24 at 6:00 p.m. (noon EDT) and close out preliminary round play facing France on Sept. 25 at 3:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m. EDT). Fans can also watch live streaming of all FIBA World Championship games at FIBATV.com.
Should the U.S. finish among the top three in its preliminary round group and advance to the second round, they will remain in Ostrava and play Sept. 27-29 against the top three Pool A finishers, which includes defending world champ Australia, Belarus, Canada and China. The medal round will be played in Karlovy Vary, with the quarterfinals scheduled for Oct. 1, the semifinals on Oct. 2 and the medal games played on Oct. 3.
Earning a 3-1 slate in its four exhibition games, two in the U.S. and two in Spain, the USA also scrimmaged the Czech Republic in Brno on Sept. 20.
Assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach/general manager Marynell Meadors.
Finishing 8-1 and in possession of the bronze medal at the 2006 World Championship in Brazil, the U.S. will look to capture the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and earn the automatic qualifying berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in '10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
In the past dozen years, the highly successful USA Basketball Women's National Team program, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, has posted a 63-1 slate in major international competitions, winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), two FIBA World Championship gold medals (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).
The FIBA World Championship for Women has been contested essentially every four years since 1953, and the United States captured the first two gold medals before the beginning of the Soviet domination of women's basketball was kicked-off at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture four of the next five World Championships (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002). The only other nations to break into the gold medal column at this event are Australia, the defending world champion, and Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take the top spot that year.
The USA owns a record seven gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 88-21 record at the event. In 2006, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. fell 75-68 to Russia in the semifinals, but rebounded to take host Brazil 99-59 in the bronze medal game and finish with an 8-1 record. Australia earned gold after defeating Russia 91-74 in the final contest.